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South Africa: Nguni stick fighting

South Africa: Nguni stick fighting

South Africa

Away from South Africa’s football, cricket and rugby pitches, a different sport is pulling crowds. This is the Nguni stick fighting known as Intonga in the local Xhosa language.

Despite being previously banned in some parts of South Africa, the sport is once again catching.

This martial art has been among the pastimes of the country’s teenage Nguni tribe herders. It’s a stick battle that can last up to five hours where the opponents take turns at playing offense and defense, and scoring points based on which body part is struck.

It can be a bloody sport, some competitors have died, but devotees wave off criticism, saying it encourages cultural expression. It is even said that Nelson Mandela himself coached the sport.

Organisers hope to have a tournament in future with players from across the continent, because this sport exists in in different forms amongst many African tribes and countries.