Exercising ‘Race’ Through the Coronation Physical Training Competition

  • FJ Cleophas
  • FJG van der Merwe
Keywords: Coronation Competition, Physical training, Race


During the last decade of the 19th and first two decades of the 20th century, the Cape Colony education authorities employed an instructional method known as physical training or physical training drill. This investigation expands on two previous studies that explored the Coronation Physical Training Competition (1902-1906). The low number of entries indicates that the Education Department was not serious in drawing a mass of learners to the competition. This article investigates the racial considerations behind this. The competition was organised in a post South African War (1899-1902) period where the education authorities asserted British racial superiority through their concern with race. The Coronation Physical Training Competition fitted into this agenda. Despite betrayal by the English during the post South African War negotiations, Black political movements and individuals continued seeking means to prove themselves loyal subjects of the King. Black schools therefore had no problem with competing in the Coronation Competition as second-class citizens. The education authorities held two Coronation competitions under the same banner. The competition was not only divided racially but differed in quality, favouring Whites.

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0379-9069