#AlumniOnTheMove | UFH three-times graduate’s research culminates into a book on the history of black Rugby in SA

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Research originated from his master's degree in Human Movement Sciences twenty years ago has led to Dr Philani Nongogo, a University of Fort Hare (UFH) three-times graduate and former lecturer, co-authoring a book that delves into the historical narrative of one of South Africa’s most loved sports, Rugby.

Titled: "Umbhoxo: Making Rugby an Afrikan Game,” according to the authors, Nongogo, Buntu Siwisa, Hendrik Snyders, and Mzukisi Twala, the book traces the history of the Afrikan rugby in the country from the 1800s to 1992 and plays a critical role in demonstrating how African people have contributed to the development of sport cultures, particularly the game of rugby, in South Africa.

Dr Nongogo holds a Bachelor of Pedagogics (B.Ped), majoring in Human Movement Studies/Science, English and Comparative Literature (1999); Bachelor of Arts Honours in Human Movement Sciences (2000) and a Masters Degree in Human Movement Sciences (2004). For his dissertation titled: “Origins and Development of Black Rugby in East London and its Response to South Africa's Rugby Unity, 1886-2000: A Study of Selected Clubs,” Nongogo read and researched the lived sporting experiences of the Afrikan people in the greater East London.

It was here at Fort Hare where he cut his teeth in the workplace, first as a Junior Research Fellow, then as a part-time Junior Lecturer, and finally as a Junior Lecturer on a full-time basis until December 2004 when he resigned to go read toward a doctoral degree at University of Pretoria. 

Currently, Nongogo is a Senior Lecturer, former Acting Head, and a longstanding Programme / Course Coordinator of the Sport and Exercise Technology Section, within the Kinesiology and Coaches Sciences Programme in the Department of Sport, Rehabilitation and Dental Sciences, in the Faculty of Science at Tshwane University of Technology.

In an interview with UFHNews, he elaborated on the role played by Fort Hare and his late father, Mr Hamilton Mxoli Nongogo in realizing this scholarly book. “As the Writing Project Manager and Coordinator of the book project, I infused so much of my earlier thoughts, ideas, research material and parts of my master's dissertation, of course, for the book I had to do extra work and even revisited some of these places and research material. My area of study is mainly motivated by sports, and specifically, East London black people's rugby stories that I heard from my late father, and to whom I decided to honour, and reimagine, and relive his experiences, taking from his long relationship with the city, since the 1950s, as a young man, a worker, and sports lover.”

“Critical to the writing of my master's dissertation and by extension the book, is the research material that is still housed at the National Heritage and Cultural Studies Centre (NAHECS)and the Africana Library at UFH.

Newspapers such as Imvo Zabantsundu; the Daily Dispatch's Supplement – Indaba; the then Kaffrarian Museum (now Amathole Museum) in Qonce; the Mayibuye Centre of the Robben Island Museum at the University of the Western Cape and the South End Museum in Gqeberha - all these repositories, and others elsewhere, were critical in his research,” he said.

Nongogo recently held a launch for the book in East London and has given several interviews on national news platforms. He says the main object of the book is “to join the dots from the great-grandfathers and pioneers of the game to the current crop of black rugby players in general and the Afrikans in particular, who have been in South Africa's rugby national team (the Springboks) post-1992 and those who are in the current squad that have recently represented the country in the Rugby World Cup in France, and won it back-to-back.”