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Cricket in Namibia

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Südwestafrika, later Namibia, became a German colony in 1884. It did not include the Walvis Bay enclave, which had been annexed by Great Britain in 1878 and was incorporated into Cape Colony in 1884. Similarly, the Penguin Islands had been annexed by Great Britain in 1867 and transferred to Cape Colony in 1873. Cricket was introduced to Walvis Bay in the nineteenth century and is known to have been played at Windhoek in 1909. When the Union of South Africa was created in 1910, Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands were included in the new Cape Province. During the First World War, South Africa overran the German colony and established martial law.

Cricket is known to have been played in 1915 at the Okanjande prisoner of war camp, south west of Otjiwarongo, between South African soldiers and local settlers. After the war, the League of Nations granted a mandate to South Africa to administer South West Africa, as it was then called, and civilian rule was restored in 1921. Walvis Bay and the islands were added to the mandate the following year. For a long time after the First World War, cricket remained an ad hoc pastime only with no real organisation until the South West Africa Cricket Union (SWACU) was founded in 1930. In the 1920s, there were three clubs in Windhoek and one in Walvis Bay but the level of competition amounted to little more than friendly matches. The game could only provide a social and recreational activity for the South African civil servants who were responsible for administering South West Africa, and the engineers who were developing its road and railway network.

After the Second World War, South Africa's prime minister General Jan Smuts appealed to the new United Nations Organisation for South West Africa to be granted provincial status within South Africa. His request was refused. After the National Party gained power in 1948, they extended apartheid into South West Africa and refused to co-operate with the United Nations. In the 1950s, cricket followed the railway lines, as in England a century earlier, and new clubs were opened at Otjiwarongo and the mining town of Tsumeb. In 1954, a representative South West African team was formed for the first time to play a game against Liesbeek Park, a Cape Town club team, in Windhoek. Four years later, a South West Africa XI went to Port Elizabeth and played against local teams there.

In 1962, the Rhodesian Country Districts team was unable to take part in the annual South African Country Cricket Association (SACCA) festival and SWACU offered to provide a team to stand in. This became a perenniel engagement until 1989. The other teams in the tournament were from the main South African provinces and exposure to that level of competition served to improve playing standards in South West Africa. In all, they played in 130 SACCA matches and won 31 with 48 defeats, 50 draws and one tie. They were most successful between 1970 and 1973.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, there were many human rights violations by South African forces. Apartheid was resisted by activists seeking independence. The South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) was created to head the fight for independence and gained recognition by the UN in 1973. Guerilla warfare and popular uprisings continued into the 1980s until, in 1988, the South African government accepted a UN proposal to allow Namibian independence with effect from Wednesday, 21 March 1990. Soon afterwards, SWACU was superseded by the new Namibia Cricket Board which is now known as Cricket Namibia. In 1992, Namibia was admitted to the International Cricket Council (ICC) with associate membership.

Notes

Bibliography

  • Morgan, Roy: Encyclopaedia of World Cricket. SportsBooks Ltd (2007).