John Bale


Between 1907 and the late 1950s a large number of colonial writers recorded a Rwandan form of ‘high jumping’ called gusimbuka-urukiramende. These representations appeared in a variety of texts including travelers’ tales, anthropological research, missionary reports and track and field manuals. It was not a modem sport but was easily constructed as one — an ‘imaginative sport'

(pace Said). Although gusimbuka was subject to a colonial gaze, such as gaze was far from monolithic. It consisted of a variety of rhetorics that were often ambivalent and which sometimes contradicted one another. It is the variety of, and the slippage within, the rhetorical modes used to describe gusimbuka that forms the subject of this essay.



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