African Cultural Sports: Preserving Local Sports In The Era Of Globalization


Last year at the Rio 2016 Olympic games, African teams managed to overcome a bucketload of challenges to cart away a historic 45 medals. It was definitely Africa’s most successful showing at the Olympic games.

Those 45 medals made up only 5 percent of the overall medal count in the Olympics. Put beside European teams which carted away the largest share of 48 percent of the medals or even the Americas who walked away with 22 percent, Africa’s 45 historic medals begin to seem less and less impressive.

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There are, of course, a number of factors that greatly limit the showings of African teams at the Olympics some of which include poor training facilities and severely limited funds.

Just as important a factor to consider, however, is the actual number of Olympic sports that with these hindrances African teams have a chance of excelling at. Olympic sports such as gymnastics, hockey, judo, taekwondo, badminton, fencing and the equestrian events would hardly be expected to serve up African champions.

How do all these Tie into African Cultural Sports?

International sports and sporting events or competitions can therefore prove to be a very tiny space for African athletes. The struggle to compete on these international stages have, however, ensured that Africa’s local sports or African cultural sports have continued to die away. Wrestling, tribe hunting and even board games that were practiced by African tribes have lost a great deal of popularity even in their own localities.

African cultural sports

To be fair, activities like tribe hunting were dissuaded on grounds of conservation when the game animals being hunted like lions or elephants were in danger of going extinct.

Moves are being made to recover African cultural sports

One of such moves was the collaboration between Addis Ababa university and Semera university to organize and put on an international conference and photo exhibition to revive cultural sports in Africa. The conference held in January and eleven well-known cultural sports games of Ethiopia were in the display.

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Ethiopia was also selected in January to be the seat of the ongoing African Cultural Sports Association. Ethiopia was chosen because it is a seat for many embassies and international organizations.

Cultural tournaments that showcase African cultural sports would work towards preserving local sports and putting them on a wider stage.