Sport, culture and society in Tanzania from an African perspective : a study in historical revisionism
Despite the significance of sport in the modern evolution of the societies of Africa, until recently, there has been a lack of academic interest in the extent of its assimilation into the fabric of these societies. In contrast, this is a cultural history of sport in Tanzania. It involves both cultural continuity and change, of shifting ideologies over time in response to political stimuli, and of the social processes of diffusion, assimilation, alienation, rejection, adaptation and restoration of culture. The thesis examines the place of sport in Tanzanian society in precolonial, colonial and post-colonial periods. Underlying this approach is a revisionism that permits the exploration of sport from a Tanzanian and an African perspective. The consideration of the pre-colonial period traces the different types of physical activities of early eastern Africa and explores their functions in the lives of the indigenous peoples. Then follows a discussion of the arrival of the Arabs and t heir role in the spread of Islam in later eastern Africa and considers the negative attitudes towards sport that resulted from this Islamisation. Next is the review of the German colonisation of the country and the Teutonic introduction of Western education into German East Africa. Hand in hand with this education went marching drills, parades and German gymnastics which have become significant components of school sport in contemporary Tanzania. The crucial contribution of the British imperialist to modern Tanzanian sport in the form of team games, athletics and gymnastics in the shape of 'adapted Athleticism', is then described and analysed. Finally, sport in independent Tanzania and its association with nationalism, modernisation and globalisation is scrutinised. The central argument of this thesis is that modern sport in Tanzania has been a consequence of a multifaceted evolution embracing three distinct periods of the country's history and three disparate legacies: indigenous, Islamic and European, but that it was the British middle class colonial educationalists, more than others, who were responsible for the sport of modern Tanzania. Thus, in independent Tanzania, as in many other developing countries in Africa, modern sport has become clearly associated with Western culture but now, in addition, is linked to nationalism, modernisation and globalisation. The thesis concludes with the argument that Tanzania keenly aspires to integration into the world of global sport but at the same time searches for a distinctive identity by utilising Tanzanian 'sport', past and present, as an integral part of education and as an important ingredient in her culture.