Contexting an ad hoc athletics unity in Natal, 1945-48

  • Francois J Cleophas


This article examines the history of track and field athletics in Natal, South Africa, during the period 1945-1948, placing organised Black sport at the core of the narrative. The official (White) version of this athletics history is ignorant of the complexities of Black sport. This complexity includes a broad range of issues that link athletics to local and international politics, education, community, inadequate facilities, marathon running sponsorship and women. The study covers a historical time period when domestic and world events, in particular India’s looming independence, influenced South African Indian leaders to be politically assertive, as their economic and residential liberties were threatened by a racist regime. This political assertiveness coincided with the Durban Indian Athletic and Cycling Union (DIACU), agitating for a national controlling body, the South African Amateur Athletic and Cycling Board of Control (SAAA&CBOC) that paralleled other sport, such as cricket and soccer. Relying largely on the newspaper, The Leader, the result is a fascinating account of how Indian political activity in Natal influenced athletics and the formation of the SAAA&CBOC.

Keywords: Athletics; Black unity; Natal; Politics

South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation, 2013, 35(2): 15-35

Author Biography

Francois J Cleophas
Department of Sport Science, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, Republic of South Africa

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0379-9069