Sports

That Time When African Countries Boycotted the 1976 Montreal Olympics & Stuck it to Apartheid

Could you imagine black athletes doing that now?

Just last month WNBA teams Indiana Fever, New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury were fined $5,000 and individual players were given a $500 penalty for wearing “black lives matter” warm-ups as a show of solidarity in the wake of police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in Minnesota and Louisiana.


While players like Tina Charles, forward for the Liberty, continued to wear their altered, black warm-ups after the fines were announced (they were later dropped) and both Fever and Liberty teams staged a media blackout after their match, refusing to answer any questions related to basketball—one can’t help but wonder what would happen if all black athletes from all sports refused to play until police brutality stopped or reparations were paid out?

Sports protest used to be hardcore. Remember when the late, great Muhammad Ali was arrested, tried, convicted and stripped of his heavyweight title when he refused to be drafted into the Vietnam War? This caused him to miss out on three of his prime boxing years. When American Olympic sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the podium at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City and raised their black-gloved fists as the U.S. national anthem played, they were subjected to racist backlash.

American sprinters Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman during the award ceremony of the 200 m race at the Mexican Olympic games. Mexico city, Mexico, 1968. Photo credit: Wikipedia

It’s difficult to imagine any of today’s athletes giving up their multi-million dollar salaries, endorsements and celebrity to boycott their respective sports. Perhaps one of the best examples of athletes standing up for racial and social justice was when African athletes boycotted the 1976 Montreal Games.

Remember that?

Black-ruled African nations upset that New Zealand’s rugby team was touring South Africa—the country had been excluded from the Olympics since 1964 and largely shunned by the international sports community for apartheid—threatened to withdraw from competition on the eve of the 1976 Montreal Olympics. The 33 countries recognized an opportunity to stick it to the rugby-devoted, white minority rulers of South Africa.

Their demand? The International Olympic committee had to ban New Zealand. It was a last minute, gutsy decision especially considering many of the athletes had arrived in Montreal and were already participating in preliminary matches when their governments decided to pull out. However, the nations recognized that there is strength and power in numbers, and palpable change happens only when wallets are affected.

Egypt’s team participated in the opening ceremonies, but dropped out the next day, and even Iraq and Guyana joined the African protest.

The countries’ decisions to forgo competition resulted in intense negotiations although ultimately the IOC didn’t concede, claiming rugby was outside of its jurisdiction. New Zealand’s rugby tour continued and the island nation was not barred from competition. However the African nations’ boycott caused cancellations, rescheduled events and $1 million in refunds. Track and field contests were also significantly impacted with so many runners from African countries absent. Go figure.

Apart from that, their show of unity, spurred by the decolonization of the African continent in the 1950s and 60s, led to the word “apartheid” appearing on front pages of newspapers. And citizens began pressuring their governments to act, which resulted in economic sanctions against South Africa that helped end formal apartheid rule two decades later.

What’s more, black athletes sacrificing the pinnacle of their sports careers on the international stage boosted the morale of student protesters who took part in the Soweto uprisings in South Africa that happened a couple months prior to the 1976 Olympic games.

Fast-forward to the present-day, what if athletes collectively agreed to stop playing or staged another boycott of the Olympics in Rio?

We can only imagine...

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Photo (c) John Liebenberg

'Stolen Moments' Uncovers the Namibian Music That Apartheid Tried to Erase

The photo exhibition, showing at the Brunei Gallery in London, highlights artists from Namibia's underground scene between 1950-1980, a time of immense musical suppression prior to its independence.

Before its independence in 1990, a whole generation of Namibians were made to believe that their country had no real musical legacy. Popular productions by Namibian artists from previous eras were systematically concealed from the masses for nearly 30 years under the apartheid regime—which extended to the country from South Africa following German colonization—depriving many Namibians of the opportunity to connect with their own musical heritage.

"Stolen Moments: Namibian Music Untold," a new exhibit currently showing at London's Brunei Museum at SOAS University of London, seeks to revive Namibian musical traditions that the apartheid regime attempted to erase.

"Imagine you had never known about the musical riches of your country," said the exhibit's curator Aino Moongo in a statement of purpose on SOAS' site. "Your ears had been used to nothing but the dull sounds of the country's former occupants and the blaring church and propaganda songs that were sold to you as your country's musical legacy. Until all at once, a magnitude of unknown sounds, melodies and songs appear. This sound, that roots your culture to the musical influences of jazz, blues and pop from around the world, is unique, yet familiar. It revives memories of bygone days, recites the history of your homeland and enables you for the first time to experience the emotions, joys and pains of your ancestors."

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Photo: Kate Green via OISPhotos.

Ayomide Bello Is the First Nigerian Woman Canoeist to Qualify for the Olympics

The young athlete is headed for Olympic gold at the 2020 games in Tokyo.

Nigerian woman are making their mark across all areas of sport, and now for the first time ever the country will be sending its first ever woman canoeist to the Olympics.

At just 17, Ayomide Bello will become the first female Nigerian canoeist to compete at the Olympic games when they head to Tokyo in 2020. The teenager beat out other African contenders at the C1 200 event at Africa's Tokyo 2020 qualifiers in Morocco last week to claim the spot, according to BBC Sport.

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Image courtesy of Riveriswild

#BuyBlack: The 8 Black-Owned Brands To Shop For On Black Friday

It's that time of year again, here is OkayAfrica's 2019 gift guide for you to #BuyBlack this Friday.

You know we're near the end of 2019 once the holiday season comes back around. Thanksgiving is upon us and the bargain shopping and gift-giving is set to commence thereafter. While this American "holiday" being questionable in of itself, Black Friday is a prime occasion to highlight, support and spend exclusively with black-owned businesses.

Just like we mentioned last year, let's keep the 'for us, by us' energy going. Even beyond the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, tap into the businesses that continue to contribute to wealth-building, development and employment in Black communities around the world.

Here is OkayAfrica's curated shortlist of black-owned brands to take note of this Black Friday, including some standout home decor, fashion, skincare and beauty brands you should know.

Take a look below.

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'Queen & Slim' soundtrack cover.

Burna Boy Samples Fela's 'Shakara' on New Track, 'My Money, My Baby' From 'Queen & Slim' Soundtrack

The film's official soundtrack also features tracks from Lauryn Hill, Blood Orange, Megan Thee Stallion and more.

The official soundtrack for Queen & Slim has arrived, and it features a standout solo track from none other than Burna Boy.

"My Money, My Baby" is a heavily Afrobeat-tinged track that features a prominent sample of Fela Kuti's 1972 song "Shakara." The pulsating track also sees the singer, channeling Fela's signature talk-style of singing and repetition. Check it out below.

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