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Traditional African Sports that Should Feature In The Olympics

Posted by Walter Gido on

Traditional African Sports that Should Feature In The Olympics

Many African sports have survived through the centuries. However, their structure and practice have continued to evolve. Today, there are lots of young Africans that are talented in traditional African sports. Indirectly, they are the custodians of these sports. Without the regular contests, these sports may have become extinct.In 2020, the Olympics committee announced that they would be incorporating traditional games in the competitions and many African sports qualify to be on their list.

 Kwepena is a popular game in Kampala, Uganda. This traditional African sport is mostly played by girls. The yard game is fun and widely enjoyed across the slums. The players take turns to dodge a soft ball usually made of plastic which are hurled by their opponents. In an attempt to make the game accepted by the Olympics, Simon Tumukunde, a sport developer, defined the court dimensions and introduced the regulation balls. To further grow the audience of the standardized game, Tumukunde is organizing competitions among schools and company staff. According to historians, the original game was played in West Africa. At that time, it was one of the drills used by fighters training for battle. Instead of soft ball, the players used rocks which often strikes a fatal blow.

Many African traditional sports appear to have an occasion tied to them, especially farming seasons. Nguni is a traditional sport from South Africa which was staged mostly by the Nguni herders. The game features two fighters who play defense and offense until one wins.Points for this game is usually rated by which body part was hit using the stick. The opponents perform several stances during the game, which lasts for up to five hours. When done in a controlled environment with defined rules, this game is entertaining to watch.

Donkey racing is a popular sporting event that happens in the Kenyan coastal town, Lamu. It attracts huge crowds of people who come to cheer their favorite riders. Also, the sport is common during the fiesta of the annual Maulidi, thereby bringing the people together.The sport is played by a rider who hops on the back of a donkey and nudges it to run for the finish line as quickly as it can. As these animals are domesticated and used primarily as a means of transportation, they are adequately adapted for this African sport.

Among the Betsileo people of Madagascar, bull riding is a tradition they use to pass culture across generations. The game is a rite of passage that is meant to signal that a man is ready to be a responsible society member. For the thrilling game, participants need to be physically fit.This is because when an angry bull is released from a cage, the man will attempt to hang on it for as long as possible. The winner is the one who manages to mount the bull for the longest time. Interestingly, the prize is a bragging right, nothing more. 

Laamb is an ancient wrestling game from Senegal that started as a recreational activity during harvesting periods. Furthermore, it resembles Dambe from Nigeria, only that wrapping arms with ropes is absent. Laamb takes place between two masculine men whose objective is to throw the opponent to the ground by lifting him up and over, usually outside a marked area. As a sporting activity that competes at the national level in Senegal, we feel it would be a great addition to the Olympics. This traditional African sport will surely add flavor and diversity to the Olympics. 

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