Games and Recreation

In addition to team sports introduced from Europe young people and adults in all regions of Africa also engage in activities that are indigenous to their region. For example, historians of Africa report that wrestling was traditionally a sport enjoyed in many parts of Africa. Similarly, running and jumping events were common in many parts of Africa prior to time of European colonial rule.

Of course young children in many African cultures, just as children in the U.S. and Europe, often engage in games of fantasy and games of imitation where they pretend adult roles.

Dance competitions were and continue to be very popular in many African societies. We don’t often think of dance as sport, but traditional African dances demand athletic prowess, physical skill, a great deal of stamina, and are often competitive.

Individual recreational sports such as tennis and golf are also popular in many African countries. However, just as in the U.S. participation in these sports is limited to those who can afford the equipment and the time and fees required to regularly play tennis or golf. Never the less, African countries have produced world-class tennis and golf players. For example in the 1980s and early 1990s Yasek Noah from the Cameroon was one of the leading male professional tennis players. And a number of years ago Gary Player from South Africa was a major money earner the international golf circuit.

wrestling1
Wrestling match, Zinder region, Niger. @ Africa Focus, University of Wisconsin-Madison

wrestling2
Wrestling match, Nubia Mountains, Sudan. @ Africa Focus, University of Wisconsin-Madison

jumping
Young woman participation in a jumping competition, rural Sierra Leone. @ Africa Focus, University of Wisconsin-Madison

skateboard
Boys on homemade skate-boards, Banjul Gambia. @ Africa Focus, University of Wisconsin-Madison

kiteflying
Kite flying in Freetown, Sierra Leone. @ Africa Focus, University of Wisconsin-Madison

oware
Playing Oware in Ghana. @ Africa Focus, University of Wisconsin-Madison
(This game is widely played in Africa. In Zambia it is known as cilolo, in East Africa as mbao, in Ethiopia and Eritrea as ghebeta, and in Nigeria as ayoo.)

pingpong
Playing ping-pong in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. @ Africa Focus, University of Wisconsin-Madison

player
Gary Player. Famous South African golfer

noah
Yannick Noah, professional tennis star from the Cameroon