Sports in Africa

Past and Present

Gerard Akindes, Tarminder Kaur & Todd Cleveland



Since the late nineteenth century, modern sports in Africa have both reflected and shaped cultural, social, political, economic, generational, and gender relations on the continent. Although colonial powers originally introduced European sports as a means of “civilizing” indigenous populations and upholding then current notions of racial hierarchies and “muscular Christianity,” Africans quickly appropriated these sporting practices to fulfill their own varied interests. This collection encompasses a wide range of topics, including women footballers in Nigeria, Kenya’s world-class long-distance runners, pitches and stadiums in communities large and small, fandom and pay-to-watch kiosks, the sporting diaspora, sports pedagogy, sports as resistance and as a means to forge identity, sports heritage, the impact of politics on sports, and sporting biography.


A long-overdue project by scholars committed to building African sports studies as a humanities subject. It presents close studies of sports like cycling, surfing, track and field, ultra-marathoning, and weightlifting, which are often neglected in favor of bigger and more popular sports such as soccer, rugby, and cricket. Scholars of social history, nationalism, popular culture, social anthropology, media, and cultural studies will appreciate this book.—Sean Jacobs


Gerard Akindes is a senior program specialist with the Josoor Institute in Qatar.

Tarminder Kaur is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Anthropology, University of Johannesburg.

Todd Cleveland is an associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas.