n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - The changing phases of Physical Education and sport in Africa : can a uniquely African model emerge? : physical education - : physical education

Volume 16, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


Africa has a rich tradition of culture, history, sport and social institutions. Various countries throughout the continent have demonstrated these. The rich traditional games, plays, dances and arts of the continent have stood the test of time. They were used for various purposes-socialization, initiation, ceremonies, recreation, etc. Archaeological discoveries continue to associate the continent with the origin of man, including physical culture. The practice of physical education is deeply rooted in the cultural fabric of various ethnic communities who developed physical prowess as an integral part of the traditional process associated with practices such as food gathering, hunting, pastoral activities, inter-tribal conflicts, etc. These cultural activities were grounded in traditional education wherein physical prowess was highly revered. These historical practices mark the first phase in the evolution of PE in Africa. The second phase is characterized by the contact with the "western world" which marked the beginning of the erosion of the traditional education and the establishment of colonial and missionary models of education that regarded the indigenous physical activities as primitive, immoral and anti-Christianity. Western (colonial) formalized PE and Sport placed emphasis on military drills, physical training (PT) formalized activities and training of teachers. As many African countries were colonized by various western powers, a number of PE syllabi which emphasized the above skills were introduced to the respective countries; for example, the 1933 syllabus was introduced by Britain to all her colonies. The striking element of this (colonial) system of education was the lack of relevance to the cultures and values of indigenous African populations. In third phase attainment of independence by most African countries resulted in significant developments in education (i.e. concerning PE and Sport) which was aimed at restoring those dignities and values which were repressed, maimed and destroyed during the colonial times. Most African countries redefined their education, including PE and Sport. Specifically, PE contributed to sport development and the emergent of the continent as a sport power. However, no discernible pattern of PE and Sport emerged. It was the story of old wine in a new bottle. The post-independence period and the last decade of the 20th Century marked the fourth phase in the evolution of PE and Sport wherein the disciplines experienced serious setbacks following the prevailing socioeconomic challenges around the world. Several PE and Sport programmes collapsed due to lack of funding. Yet Africa (and indeed no country) did not still evolve a discernible pattern or model of its own. The 21st Century PE and Sport in Africa is still a replica of the colonial and post-independence model. The political changes on the continent did not lead to any concomitant changes in the structures of PE and Sport. This article discusses the above phases and concludes that for PE and Sport to succeed in Africa, there must emerge models that are uniquely African. They must be developed in Africa by Africans and for the benefit of Africans. Any model which continues to follow either the western or oriental models may not be sustainable.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error