Kenyan Running: Movement Culture, Geography, and Global Change

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Psychology Press, 1996 - History - 209 pages
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1997 British Society of Sports History - Lord Aberdare Literary Prize for Sports History

The record-breaking achievements of Kenyan athletes have caught the imagination of the world of sport. How significant really is Kenya in the world of sports? This book, the first to look in detail at the evolution and significance of a single sport in an African country, seeks to answer these and many other questions. Kenyan Running blends history, geography, sociology and anthropology in its quest to describe the emergence of Kenyan athletics from its pre-colonial traditions to its position in the modern world of globalized sport. The authors show the qualities of stamina and long distance running were recognized by early twentieth century travellers in east Africa and how modern running was imposed by colonial administrators and school teachers as a means of social control to replace the indigenous fold traditions.

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User Review  - briannad84 - LibraryThing

I believe the copy of this book I checked out of my library was older than me! But it was not bad. I can see why he was so popular, he seemed like an amazing speaker. Read full review

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Interested in the unpublished story of another American two-times Olympian (naturalized from Cameroon)?
I am from Cameroon (PhD student, VA), West Africa, and my father (Esau Nji Ade, who
naturalized as an American and now lives in Washington DC) ran with Prefontaine in the 1972 Olympic games in Munich. They personnally knew each other as fellow Olympians. I think the story of Pre is well told one, given what I know about him.
Reading his story brings tears to my eyes because, at least, America is recognizing a well-deserved distance runner and Olympian--which was not my father's case in Cameroon. Though having represented Cameroon in two Olympics (LA, in 1968, and Munich, in 1972), he qualified to be on the track and field team of Tokyo, 1964, but was discriminated against, dropped and repalced with a Francophone (from the majority side). He also represented Cameroon in several African games and holds the current Cameroon records for 3000m (steeple chase) and 5000m.
A little about my father's unique story as a forgotten African hero: He grew up in the then-Southern Cameroons (the anglophone minority) and came to discover his talent only due to the mistreatments of an uncle. To avoid the coporal punishment meted on pupils for late-coming in those days, my father would run for a mile or two every morning to school only after the bell went off. Since his uncle would not let him go early (because of excessive morning chores), and he hated being whipped in school, he always ran with excessive speeds just to make it on time--that's how he started practicing!
Though he didn't get any gold medals, he was widely known in Cameroon (and Africa, training with Mohamed Gamoudi form Tunisia several times in France prior to the Olympics) for the plethora of medals and honor he brought Cameroon through his running carreer. He also furthered his studies in Germany (Universities of Berlin and Koln) in the 80's and later served as the country's (or South West) athletic coach and Physiotherapist. Even though he is suffering from a partial stroke, many Africans in the Diaspora are still intrigued and inspired whenever he tells his stories about travelling the world to represent his beloved Cameroon (Africa) in track and field-related events. Until now, if someone is running well among our people, he is referred to as an "Ade".
PS: Email or call me if you want to hear more about his story. I wish that it can be published so his legacy will keep on living.


The significance of Kenyan running
athletes 1993
Antecedents of Kenyan sport
Between folkgames and modern sport
sport as a global system
regions and myths
Development underdevelopment resistance

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About the author (1996)

John Bale is a Visiting Professor of Sports Studies, at the University of Aarhus, Denmark and Professor of Sports Geography, at Keele University.
Mike Cronin is a Senior Research Fellow, at De Montfort University.

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