Brutus, Mandela, Robben Island, and Rugby : The Unavoidable Intersection of Sport, Politics and Society in South Africa
Bez, Bradley R.
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The thesis of this essay is that the intersection of sport, politics, and society is unavoidable as sport often plays a key role in the popular identity of communities and their larger societies. In South Africa, sport took on a particularly sharp political role because of Apartheid. It was used by white South Africa as a source of white nationalism for many years and so for black South Africans it became a key site of anti-apartheid struggle. The author had the good fortune of having access to the Dennis Brutus Papers, held in the archives of Northwestern University, where Dr. Brutus spent much of his years in exile. Dr. Brutus, was the most important South African activist in the struggle against what became known as apartheid sport. With the papers of Dr. Dennis Brutus, the author illustrates the key role that sports played in the struggle against apartheid. He also examines the importance of Rugby in the history of racism in South Africa and President Nelson Mandela's desire to change that with the 1995 World Cup. The author reveals important lessons from Robben Island, the infamous political prison of Nelson Mandela and how sport played a key role there among the inmates as well.