De Nederlandse Vereniging voor Afrikastudies (NVAS) is een nationaal netwerk van en voor Afrika-deskundigen en liefhebbers in Nederland. De NVAS wil de publieke belangstelling voor Afrika-onderzoek in Nederland bevorderen en actuele informatie aanbieden.
This year NVAS held its Africa day in partnership with the School of Governance at Utrecht University (research area Sport & Society). The organisers were NVAS members Kirsten Langeveld, David Drengk and Froukje Krijtenburg with Frank van Eekeren of the UU School of Governance. In the audience were several professional athletes from Africa, other interested individuals from Africa, students interested in Africa from up North (Groningen), Africanists from various parts of the Netherlands, and many others with a passion for Africa.
The main question that was addressed during this day was how sport can be used as an instrument for positive social change in Africa. Other questions focussed on the interconnection between history, politics and sports relating to the problematic transculturation of surfing among black Africans in South Africa. Other themes discussed were sports and economy, and the role of indigenous games in African societies in the process of the formation of identities. In fact, the focus was both on sports and games in Africa, traditional board games to be precise.After the welcome and opening words of NVAS president Dr Felix Ameka and School of Governance Frank van Eekeren, keynote speaker professor Cora Burnett in the Department of Sport and Movement Studies of the University of Johannesburg passionately talked about sport as a catalyst for social change. In collaboration with the German government and co-funded by the European Union, she is involved in a project that focuses on using football for development. Promoting social and organisational skills by participation or volunteer work, sports have made it possible for many deprived youngsters in South Africa to enter the labour market, professor Burnett argued. Additionally she underlined the importance of sport in creating self-awareness, developing a positive self-image and a social identity among poor youngsters. Her conclusion was full of hope: sport can and will indeed empower young people worldwide including those in Africa.
The researchers Uroš Kovač and Mark Hann of the ERC-funded Global Sport project of the University of Amsterdam focussed on wrestling in Cameroon and Senegal respectively. On the whole, they appeared to share Burnett’s opinion. Uroš conducted fieldwork in the Anglophone Southwest region of Cameroon, where he studied traditional wrestling matches of the Bakweri people. He found that the social networks of the wrestlers gives them a positive social identity. The wrestlers are highly respected in society for their sport achievements. This finding reminded me of Okonkwo, the main character in the novel Things Fall Apart by the late Nigerian (Igbo) writer Chinua Achebe. In this novel, Okonkwo wins a wrestling contest from the strongest Igbo man in his village, nicknamed ‘the Cat’. Once Okonkwo defeated this presumably unconquerable man, he becomes a hero. The wrestling game helped Okonkwo to build a reputation as a strong and masculine figure in contrast to his feminine and weak father. Okonkwo wants to be disassociated from his father and his career as a wrestler helps him to reach his goal. Wrestling is thus both empowering in the fictive literature of Nigerian societies and in contemporary Cameroon and Senegal. The anthropologist Uroš Kovač reminds us that, like everywhere else, sport in Africa has its roots in the sacred spheres of life rather than the profane. In the past, wrestlers were often members of secret societies with an indigenous religious orientation. Today, young wrestlers are less interested in joining these secret societies and especially the Pentecostals among them stress the secularity of the wrestling sport. For them, it is essential to detach their sport from all indigenous religious characteristics due to its clash with their Pentecostal beliefs. They believe that wrestling is not a traditionally oriented but a modern sport. The behaviour of these Christians enhances our insight on how modernity and the profane are negotiated in sports.
Keynote speaker Frank van Eekeren closed the day with a lecture on the positive and problematic aspects of sport as a catalyst for social change. He stressed that Mandela’s maxim ‘sport has the power to change the world’ has so far not been academically supported. Sport can indeed have a positive impact on the lives of people including those in Africa, but sports are not a religion. Sports can include and empower people and increase their social capital as professor Cora Burnett demonstrated. However, it can also exclude and disempower them as Glen Thompson demonstrated in his history of black surfing. Sport can unite and divide, increase one’s health or cause injuries, create hope or cause despair. It is, therefore, most important for sport scientists not to evangelise sports but respectfully observe and analyse the traditional African games and sports and the transculturation of global sports in Africa.
Dr Louise Müller, temporary University Lecturer ‘Images of Africa’, Leiden University
Did you join us at the Sport in Africa Day or are you curious what it was like? Check the photo gallery on the next page to share (again) the experience of a scientifically stimulating, entertaining and fun day.
On the occasion of the NVAS Sport in Africa Day, the African Studies Centre Leiden has compiled a web dossier of the literature and documentaries in its library . Check out here a fascinating collection of articles, books and films!
Op het Afrika-Studiecentrum in Leiden is ter gelegenheid van de Sport in Afrikadag op 15 oktober 2016 een kleine tentoonstelling te zien van ‘Sport op postzegels van Afrika’. De tentoonstelling is samengesteld uit de persoonlijke collectie van Ton Dietz, directeur van het Afrika-Studiecentrum.
Daarnaast geeft Ton Dietz speciaal voor deze Afrikadag een interessant en onderhoudend historisch overzichtje van Afrikaanse sportpostzegels geïllustreerd met bijzondere voorbeelden. Lees het hier.
When: NVAS Africa Day 15 October 2016, 10.00am – 6.00pm
Where: Utrecht University School of Governance, Bijlhouwerstraat 6, Utrecht
PROGRAMME download the programme here.
Registration: To register please send an e-mail with a filled-out registration form (inschrijvingsformulier) to firstname.lastname@example.org (please click on the underlined link). The registration fees are €15 for students, NVAS members and ABv members, €25 for non-members. Fees are payable before October 10th (extended registration date). Registration includes a varied and interactive programme, lunch, lively discussions, drinks and snacks.
Travel directions: click here
About the Sport in Africa day Sport is used increasingly as an instrument for positive social change in Africa. But what exactly is it that sports (can) do and to what degree, and how can they effect change? Are some sports more likely to be effective means for socio-economic advancement? And if so, why is that? These and other questions will be addressed during the 2016 NVAS Africa Day. Organisers are Frank van Eekeren (Utrecht University School of Governance, research focus area Sport & Society); Kirsten Langeveld (NVAS), David Drengk (NVAS) and Froukje Krijtenburg (NVAS)
Dates: 19 & 20 May 2017 [when NVAS celebrates its 20th anniversary]
Venue: The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Johanna Westerdijkplein 75, The Hague (5 minutes walking from train station Den Haag HS)
Organizing committee: Anneke Breedveld (NVAS), Jos Walenkamp (HHS), Jan Jansen (NVAS), Marlies van der Wee-Bedeker (NVAS), Beer Schröder (EP-NUFFIC)
Partners: NVAS, HHS, EP-NUFFIC
Language: English (French and Dutch on demand)
Outcomes: 1. Reviewed book with selected contributions on the theme of the conference; 2. Communiqué on the conference for policy makers, practitioners and consumers of education in Africa. Continue reading
Bachelor student Vera de Regt heeft de Antropologie fotowedstrijd gewonnen 2016. De foto van voetballende schoolkinderen werd genomen in Tanzania. De jury prees de foto om het optimisme dat zij uitstraalt en de empowerment van vrouwen. De tweede en derde plaats waren voor Jule Forth en Faye Han.
On Thursday June 2nd, the Centre for International Conflict – Analysis & Management celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. NVAS members are kindly invite to join in the celebrations. Stathis Kalyvas and Bertrand Badie will speak about ‘Images of the Enemy in the 21st century’. Their remarks will be followed by a public debate with the audience, moderated by Petra Stienen. Continue reading
ILA2016 BIENNIAL CONFERENCE JOHANNESBURG
Participation of Young African Scholars at the Biennial Conference ILA, Johannesburg, 7-11 August 2016 Continue reading
Programme Point-Sud Workshop
Sahelian Identities in Times of Crisis, Past and Present
Date and Place: Bamako, 10-14 December 2016
Recent years have witnessed growing interest in Sahelian societies as they confront the effects of various forms of violence, internal and external, that have disrupted or modified the way individuals and groups relate to each other and conceive of self. The aim of the proposed workshop is to provoke a critical reflection around ongoing socio-political processes in the Sahelian region, particularly in Mali and by linking them to historical and political configurations that have given shape, and continue to give shape and form to the Sahel as a geographical, a political, a moral as well as an ideological field of enquiry. Continue reading