Fitness The African Way

Most people may play sports for fun or to keep shape. Besides it is good for mental and physical health. In many African countries sports helps push the participants to become better. Starting earlier on in life can help in developing and maintaining the necessary skills and physical functions needed for an active lifestyle into old age. Besides it is good for mental and physical health. Some indigenous sports in Africa include

Eunoto and Adumu Maasai Jumping Dance

Eunoto is a Maasai ceremony in Kenya where a junior warrior is promoted to a senior warrior. This is also the time they are allowed to choose a wife. Women are also present at the ceremony as spectators giving the warriors motivation. Adumu is an important part of the eunoto ceremony. This is the traditional Masai jumping dance performed by men who form a circle where one enters inside and jumps as high, smooth and as elegant as possible. This dance requires serious athleticism because of its competitive nature. Some men have jumped up to 80 centimeters high! The higher the jumper gets, the better and faster their chances of acquiring a wife faster.


Donkey Racing

Every year donkey racing sport is held in Lamu a Kenyan island. The activity which occurs during the Lamu Cultural Festival is a tourist attraction in an island with no car due to narrow streets that make it impossible to navigate a vehicle. The races are competitive with talented riders racing the entire length of the town while spectators cheer them on. The winner takes home a prize and much sought after title. This is a centuries old sport and requires a special set of skills.


Dhow Sailing

The Swahilis of Lamu island in Kenya are not only good at making dhows but also sailing them. There are frequent dhow races here with the winners receiving significant honors. On the race day, top captains gather in their dhows along the old town Shela shores of Lamu for the competition. The event which is preferably held from July to April for the perfect winds has the waters off the coast of Lamu crowded by up to 15 racing dhows. Islanders as well as tourists cheer their favorite captains on in an exercise that is physically draining due to the coastal heat. However, this centuries old tradition is facing a threat from modern engine boats.


Kgati is a traditional South African game where players skip and jump over a rope. The sport is also known as Ntimo or Ugqaphu. It involves two players holding the skipping rope on each end, while the third player skips in a variety of ways while chanting and singing. There can be more than one skipper. The rope passes under the skipper and over their heads. Traditionally it was played by girls but now attracts players from all genders.




This sport originates from the Betsileo community in Madagascar. A mpasavika rides an irate bull by grabbing its hump behind the neck and holding on tightly for as long as possible as it tries to throw him off. This old tradition is dangerous but an integral part of allowing boys to prove their manhood. No awards are given at the end of the day just crazy respect. Like the Maasai Adumu dance, one of the tournaments aim is to win the hearts of women.


Nguni Stick Fighting

Nguni stick fights are a martial art traditionally practiced by teenage Nguni herdboys of South Africa. Each combatant is armed with two long sticks, one of which is used for defense and the other for offense. The fight can last up to five hours where opponents score points based on which part of the body is struck. It is considered a violent sport and in some instances participants have died in the cause of the game. In the past, it was used to train for war but over time it became a sport similar to fencing. Shaka Zulu was a practitioner of this sport.


Dambe Boxing

This is an ancient form of boxing linked to the Hausa of Northern Nigeria. Participants travel to different villages at harvest time and challenge those of the butcher class to duel as festival entertainment. The stronger hands of both fighters are tied with rope and they try to strike the opponent with punches and kicks until one person drops to the floor. This is known as “killing” the opponent. The sport was traditionally practiced as a way for getting ready for war as alluded by the techniques and terminologies of the game.


Laamb Senegalese Wrestling

Popularly called “Laamb” in Senegal, this form of wrestling is over a century old. It began as a recreation sport for farmers and fishermen where tournaments took place after harvest. To win, a wrestler has to force his opponent onto the ground. The opponents are free to use their bare hands unlike dambe boxing.


Ngolo And Capoeira

The capoeira is an afro-Brazilian sport which combines elements of dance, music acrobatics, fight and martial arts. It is believed to have its roots from West Africa and is a response to the Portuguese slave masters ban on practicing African traditions in the 16th century. Capoeira is also known as “ngolo” in Angola its African roots.


Ancient Egyptian Sports

Ancient Egyptian kings, princes and statesmen were keen on sports competitions and they encouraged and provided their citizens with the necessary equipment for them. Most of today’s sports were practiced in ancient Egypt, where they set the rules and regulations for them. Some of the engravings on monuments indicate that they practiced wrestling, weightlifting, long jump, swimming, rowing, shooting, fishing and athletics, as well as various kinds of ball games.

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