Politicising the Race: the silent protest of 1981

Presented by
Seminar Date
April 21, 2010
The historical narrative of the Comrades Marathon is far more complicated than what is portrayed in those narratives officially endorsed by the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA). The narratives depicted attempt to portray a road race which is almost completely isolated from the political context during which it was staged. They have endeavoured thorough such narratives, and they still do, to ignore the effect of apartheid on those living within the borders of South Africa, steadfast in the idealistic belief that sport and politics are two completely separate social endeavours. The official narratives as produced by the CMA, and those history books they endorse, cover the race from its inception until present day. They tell the history of a race considered to be one of the most prestigious ultra-marathons in the world. Yet, such a grand narrative seemingly separates itself from the different contexts in which it finds itself; it portrays the race and its runners as untainted by the racial policies and apartheid legislation which affected the country and infiltrated every aspect of South African society, including sport and therefore the Comrades Marathon. These ‘official’ narratives can also therefore be seen to reinforce the idea that sport, race and politics can be separated.
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