Thursday, August 2, 2007

South Africa: Football and Culture

I found this post on the popular website.

We all recognize soccer for the beautiful game that it
is. And for its power to unite a country as in Cote
D'Ivoire and inflame passions between countries, in El
Salvador and Honduras (The Soccer Wars).

But it is also the one sport that has seen an intimate
connection and is intertwined in the struggle against
apartheid and South Africa's freedom.

The polarization in the races between the White
Afrikaaners and the Blacks, Indians, and the Coloreds
was reflected in the choice of sports. Cricket and
rugby for the colonials and soccer and boxing for the
indigenous. The formation of the Orlando Pirates in
the 1930's and in the next decade their rivals, the
Moloka Swallows saw the first organized attempts at a
soccer league for the blacks. It was a form of escape
from the grinding poverty and regular harrassment of
the police. The muddy grounds of the squatter camps
and a ball, was all you needed. And the migration of
thousands of people to the outskirts of Johannesburg,
Durban, Cape Town looking for jobs provided the
audience and the players. The British form of soccer
was soon transformed and Africanized by incorporating
traditional customs practised by the Zulus, Xhosas,
Ndebeles, and the Coloreds. Soccer became a dynamic,
protean form of entertainment and social release for

The 1950's and 60's saw soccer being thrust into the
forefront of apartheid politics. The White colonials
made it impossible for the indigent population to
secure playing fields. This led to the resistance of
many workers to the strict control of their lives
through the colonial and capitalist demands of the
white overlords with respect to their wages, working
hours, and social practices. In 1951 Africans,
Coloureds, and Indians came together to form the South
African Soccer Federation, which opposed apartheid in
sport. 1961 to 1966 saw the rapid expansion of teams
under the anti- racist South African Soccer League.
Their efforts to isolate the apartheid regime led to
the succesful international sports boycott of the
world with South Africa from 1961 to 1992 until the
fall of apartheid.

With this development, FIFA welcomed South Africa back
into world soccer on 3 July 1992. On 7 July 1992, at
Durban's King's Park stadium, South Africa played its
first official international contest in three decades.
An integrated national team, nicknamed Bafana Bafana
(Zulu for The Boys'), defeated Cameroon 1-0, thanks to
a Doctor Khumalo penalty kick.

The world will see the new South Africa in WC 2010.
Implicit in this, is the world's recognition that
soccer played a transformative role in ending decades
of apartheid rule and providing succour to thousands
of people during those dark days.

A wonderful comment on the impact the game can have.

For an in depth look at soccer and its role in ending
apartheid, read Dr. Peter Alegi's thought
provoking book 'Laduma! Soccer, Politics and Society in
South Africa' (Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu
- Natal Press, 2004).

Has anyone read it? Please post opinions.


emmanuel uduma said...

its amazing what this beautiful game of soccer has done for the world and its refreshing also to read about how it redifining south Africa. as we look forward to 2010, there is no doubt in my heart that its going to be the greates ever!!

bathmate said...

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Anonymous said...

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thank you.