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Yesterday and Today

On-line version ISSN 2309-9003
Print version ISSN 2223-0386

Y&T  n.23 Vanderbijlpark Jul. 2020 



Creating a historical sport narrative of Zonnebloem College for classroom practice



Francois Cleophas

University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa;; ORCID No.:




This article attempts to create a sport narrative of the Zonnebloem College prior to 1950. The introduction provides a motivation for proceeding with a decolonising format and lays out what the elements of such a format would entail. Next, an overview of sport historical developments at the Zonnebloem College is explored. The administrative history of sport at Zonnebloem is explored as well as selected sport codes. Finally, the article is summarised and concluded by presenting teachers and learners with sample questions, which they could consider using in their local conditions.

Keywords: Athletics; Netball; Soccer; Decolonisation; Institutional Culture; Past Student's Union; Zonnebloem.




According to the sport historian, André Odendaal, at the centre of South African sport history must be the effort to understand how the silences of the colonial subject in sport are manipulated and how colonial narratives are set in the literature and minds of South Africans - and to attempt to redress the situation (Odendaal 2018:1). One example of the silence on black school sport is the publication, Some famous schools. It is a 279-page work that is dedicated to "teachers, pupils, old boys, parents and the local public that [came from] schools founded on the Arnoldian ideal" (Peacock 1972: Editor's Note). The Arnold ideal here refers to the life view of Thomas Arnold, the headmaster of Rugby School from 1828 to 1842, who advocated a schooling system that suits the rising middle class (Mclntosch 1963:65). School histories such as these are expectedly silent on their privileged position in society and their complicity in silencing narratives that emanate from the underclass. This article directs attention largely to redressing the vacuum of black1 school sport in 20th century Cape Town by presenting a narrative of developments at Zonnebloem College (henceforth called Zonnebloem) in a decolonising format. Zonnebloem College is the oldest training institution2 in Cape Town, being established in 1858 (Bylae tot Die Burger, 2008:16). This institution exists today (2020) as the Zonnebloem Nest Senior School.

A decolonised sport narrative contains the following elements: putting in place new paradigms for understanding the past, integrating from the beginning, at every stage and in every area, the experiences of hitherto excluded black sportspeople from history, and reconstituting the entire statistical history of South African [sport] (Odendaal 2018:1-4). Applied to Zonnebloem, this necessitates the documentation of available data regarding biographies and sport results where they are available. Such data may appear insignificant to readers located outside the Zonnebloem experiences; however, they do provide evidence of the importance (and lesser importance) that the institution attached to sport. This article therefore includes college sport results that contain names of later school administrators. Such data also provide substance for individual athletes, such as the poet Sydney Petersen, who recalled his school athletics experience as follows: "When the tape is near and the heart and nerve and sinew are all gone, then one man will rise to victory" (Willemse 2010:34).

What this study also hopes to achieve is to create an awareness amongst history teachers about school populations of "knowledges encoded in the dominant beliefs, values and behaviours deeply embedded in all aspects of institutional life" (Jansen 2009:126). It is stated here with a degree of certainty that successful school teachers transfer their acquired beliefs, values and behaviours during teacher training to their employment environment. One such teacher was the 1936 Zonnebloem graduate, Allie Fataar:

[Allie] emerged during [his teacher training period] as a confident young teacher-in-training, admiring his teachers for their conscientiousness and passion for going beyond the expected because of their belief-systems and commitment to fairness in an exploitative system (Omar 2015:166).

Significantly, Fataar stated that if ever a biography of him should be written, it would have to include the words, "I always became secretary at club-sport level". Furthermore, he said, "[I was] co-founder of Harold Cressy High School Sport Council as we sought to salvage the ethos of mass-based school sport" (Omar 2015:165, 167). As far as the author of this article is aware, there is only one published academic journal article on the subject of Zonnebloem school sport (Cleophas 2012:63-87). This was an article that explored athletics during the 19th and early 20th century, thus leaving scope for a wider exploration of other sport types. There have however been considerable endeavours in the area of research into Zonnebloem school history (Cleophas 2012; Hodgson & Edlmann, 2018; Hodgson 1975; Hodgson 1982; Hodgson 1983; Hodgson 1984; Hodgson 2003). The reader/teacher is advised to read this article against the historical backdrop of the above-mentioned authors' works. These recorded narratives have illuminated, in part, a hitherto obscure compartment of South African education history - missionary school sport. This study adds to this collection of works by foregrounding the above-mentioned decolonisation elements that constitute a sport narrative.


Sport administration

In 1900 William Parkhurst took over the wardenship of Zonnebloem (Hodgson & Edlmann 2018:167). Parkhurst was a Muscular Christian who promoted the idea of "developing the hand, eye and muscle as well as soul and mind" (Hodgson & Edlmann 2018:167). Muscular Christianity is the label given to the philosophy that physical fitness and sporting prowess were important avenues through which mental, moral and religious (meaning Christian) attitudes were developed and sustained (Siedentop 1990:69). Parkhurst was part of a cohort of Muscular Christians who influenced the institutional culture at centres of higher learning in the Cape Colony. Canon Ogilvie, who is regarded in some quarters as the pioneer of rugby in South Africa (Dobson 1990:21; Van der Merwe 2007:162), was also such a Muscular Christian. Another noted Muscular Christian was the Reverend H. R. Woodrooffe who was appointed in 1859 to be in charge of "the native branch of St. Andrew's College" (Currey 1955:24). Woodrooffe was succeeded by Robert John Mullins in 1864 (Stevens c.1992:41). An internet source claims that Mullins introduced rugby to boys who were attached to the Xhosa Institute, started in 1859, which was attached to St Andrews (St Andrew's College 2015). It was in 1904, when Rev. Oscar Charles Hine joined the Zonnebloem staff as the manual work teacher, that sport was gradually introduced on a formal basis. He brought with him his experience of British public schooling received at Manchester Grammar School (Anon 1944:5). Hine, no doubt imposed the Manchester Grammar school and sport ethos on to Zonnebloem. This was an ethos expressed in 1903 by the high master at this school, John Lewis Paton, that "a strong body is your servant, a weak body is your master" (Turner 2015:166). According to Paton's biography, written by his son, he "saw in the great public schools that the moral tone was fostered by corporate life, organized team games, personal influence of the masters, continued attachment of scholars after they [had] left" (Turner 2015:166). Parkhurst and Hine were two Muscular Christians who expanded existing 19th century sport programmes at Zonnebloem and brought them in line with Muscular Christianity. In 1904 also, a Zonnebloem Old Boy gave an account of a visit to his alma mater in the Veld and African Pictorial. One of the things he reported on was the boxing matches (Veld and African Pictorial 1904:21-22). In that same year, the editor of the Zonnebloem Quarterly Magazine mentioned in the July edition that those activities which required bodily exertion, whether manual work or athletics, were a great weakness [at the College]. Football (soccer) was however being played with some energy (Zonnebloem Quarterly 1904a:2).

Early in the 20th century, a sport committee at Zonnebloem was established to control sport. A similar situation developed earlier at the South African College where in 1895, an athletics committee was established to control sport, and especially to manage financial matters in connection with various clubs. This committee was composed of a representative from each year's classes and each club in the College, together with two professors, Ritchie as president and Corstorphine as secretary and treasurer (Ritchie & Kemp 1918:357). By 1905 there existed a Zonnebloem sport committee (Zonnebloem Quarterly Magazine and Journal of the Association of St. John Baptist, 1905b:29). The cover pages of various Zonnebloem Quarterly Magazines list the following students and lecturers as "Games officers":

For the period October - December 1905: Norman Cressy football captain), Cristopher Lobenguela (football secretary and cricket captain), G. Sekgoma (vice-captain), Harold Cressy (cricket secretary) and J.H. Makenna (athletics secretary) (Zonnebloem Quarterly Magazine Zonnebloem Quarterly Magazine and Journal of the Association of St. John Baptist 1905c: cover page). Lobenguela entered Zonnebloem in 1895 and stayed until 1907. The following year he left for England to attend Denstone College, and possibly one of the universities. His academic record indicates that he obtained the First-Year-Woodwork Pupil-Teacher Certificate in 1904 (WCED Pass Lists). Norman Cressy wrote an admission examination in 1904 and the last record found of him was of him passing the third-year P. T. examination, second grade, in 1907 (see also WCED Pass Lists).

For the period April-June 1906: Norman Cressy (football captain), M Xiniwe (football vice-captain), Christopher Lobenguela (football secretary and cricket captain), Isang Pilane (football treasurer), G Sekgoma (cricket vice-captain), Harold Cressy (cricket secretary), J Beukes (second team cricket captain) and JH Makenna (athletic sport secretary) Zonnebloem Quarterly Magazine and Journal of the Association of St. John Baptist, 1906a:cover page).

For the period July - September 1906: Norman Cressy (football captain), M Xiniwe (football & cricket vice-captain), Christopher Lobenguela (football secretary & treasurer & cricket captain), Percival Victor Sokopo (cricket secretary) and William Hanekom (cricket second team captain) (Zonnebloem Quarterly Magazine and Journal of the Association of St. John Baptist, 1906b:cover page). Available records indicate Sokopo was a student at Zonnebloem between 1904 and 1908, while William Matthew John Abraham Hanekom passed a Teachers' Model Drawing examination at a vacation course in Cape Town in 1911 (see also WCED Pass Lists).

For the period October 1906 - March 1907: Norman Cressy (football captain), M Nixie (football & cricket vice-captain), Christopher Lobenguela (football secretary, treasurer & cricket captain), M Xiniwe (cricket vice-captain), Percival Sokopo (secretary) and William Hanekom (cricket captain of the second team) (Zonnebloem Quarterly Magazine and Journal of the Association of St. John Baptist, 1906c: cover page).

Some of these names had historical significance. Thus, Norman Cressy was the brother of the more well-known Harold Cressy (Adhikari 2012:12). Nguboyenja (Christopher) Lobenguela was a Ndebele royal heir who was baptised in St. Phillip's Church on 15 January 1900 and christened, Christopher (Hodgson 2018:164). Isang Pilane was a translator for Bechuana chiefs who visited Zonnebloem; he was also part of the Tswana-speaking Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in Bechuanaland Pilane dynasty and became an advisor to the Royal House (Hodgson 2018:175). Harold Cressy became principal of Trafalgar High School in 1912 and first president of the Teachers' League of South Africa (TLSA) in 1913 (Adhikari 2012:32, 36).

After the First World War, sport at Zonnebloem gradually started to be administered by teachers who were not clergy. The low number of pupil-teachers was however a major obstacle in the development of team sport. The situation improved slightly by 1935 when Ms Grover was the sport mistress. Thereafter Zonnebloem produced stalwarts in almost every branch of sport and these stalwarts took their skills to various parts in the Union of South Africa and beyond. The contribution of Gilbert Little was highlighted in the press as particularly outstanding in this regard (Sun 1932d:7.) He was singled out for praise in an article written by George Golding on the progress made in school sport in the Western Cape (Sun 1932e:7). Little's brother-in-law, W.G. Bapoo, was also on the Zonnebloem staff and a prominent tennis player in the Cape District Tennis Union (Sun 1936e:12). When a former Zonnebloem student, William Darries, died in 1937, his obituary stated that he taught with success at Mossel Bay, Brandwacht, Oakhurst and George, and he was a "beloved brother and friend in the world of sport, I.O.T.T. and the Brigade" (Sun 1937g:4). At some stage Zonnebloem introduced a Derbyshire Shield for inter-school sport. In 1948, Gray House won this shield (Clarion 1948:3).

Sport fees

In 1933, a 5-shilling annual sport fee was compulsory for students (UCT, MAD BC 636 D2.75). At the beginning of the 1937-football season, the warden asked the principal in a confidential letter to discuss the inclusion of sport fees in the school fees, so that assistance could be given to players travelling to Rosebank and Mowbray. This was asked because players had to walk both ways, play a hard game and return to their homework at night, utterly fatigued and unfit for study. An example was given of two boys who walked to Rosebank and back. They got back at 19h40 (prep started at 19h15), and had a hurried meal and a wash before doing homework. This was the regular routine for a number of boys who could not afford to pay the train fare. He suggested that every boy pay 1d. of the 5d. train fare from Woodstock Station and that a special fund cover the balance. According to the warden, most schools and colleges (i.e. white schools and colleges) had such an arrangement, so that the best players could be selected, irrespective of finances. The warden also wrote to Gilbert Little about the matter, who was asked to consult with the principal (UCT, MAD BC 636 A10.49). The acting principal agreed to deal with this suggestion (UCT, MAD BC 636 A10.50).


Hostels and netball

Boarding houses or hostels were important stimuli for sport participation at British schools. The living conditions in Zonnebloem hostels however were not conducive to school sport because the living conditions left much to be desired. In 1936, the warden reported that the buildings of the boys' hostel were unsatisfactory, the sanitary and bathroom arrangements were quite inadequate and the floors were in an appalling condition (UCT, MAD BC 636 C2. 57). Another report was vague on the question of unsatisfactory dietary conditions. It stated that although nutrition at the boys' hostel and girls' hostel was satisfactory, food should be increased by adding a second vegetable at dinner daily, and sweets (with fruit predominantly) thrice weekly instead of only twice as at present (UCT, MAD BC 636 C2. 78). One of the suggestions made by a commission of enquiry, headed by Canon Lavis, into the causes of unrest at the Zonnebloem boys' hostels in 1937 was that there should be opportunities for social intercourse between the warden and the boarders, possibly in the evenings (UCT, MAD BC 636 C2. 77). Despite these shortcomings, netball at Zonnebloem was closely associated with the St. Clare's hostel for girls.

According to an internet source, netball was introduced to students at both the University of Stellenbosch and the University of Cape Town in 1925 by a certain Mrs Salmon (Anon n.d.). It could not be determined when and how the game reached Zonnebloem, but in 1932 a proposal was made for the introduction of a second Zonnebloem netball team consisting of hostel girls (UCT, MAD BC 636 D2. 84). From then on, the St. Clare's Hostel was very successful in the netball section of the Central School Sports Union (CSSU) (see Cleophas 2014 for a historical account of the CSSU). Zonnebloem fielded their A team and hostel team in the over-15 age division, who played each other in the final match in 1932. The final score was 20 for the A-team and 26 for the B-team (hostel team) (Sun 1932d:7). Conflicting evidence exists about the year 1934. According to diverse Zonnebloem papers in the University of Cape Town archives, St. Clare's Hostel withdrew from the school sport league, making it possible for one team to represent Zonnebloem in all games (UCT, MAD BC 636 C2. 48). However, that same year, the Sun reported that Zonnebloem was the winner of the over-15A netball competition and that the St. Claire's team was the winner of the over-15B competition (Sun 1934e:8). In 1936, Zonnebloem entered three over-15 teams in the CSSU league competitions.

The A-team won the A division while the other two teams (Zonnebloem 2B and Zonnebloem B) finished first and second respectively in the B division. The Zonnebloem 2B-team won the knockout division in 1936 (Sun, 1936d:11). Three results for the 1936 CSSU final matches could be found, although with unknown scores:



Except for one insignificant media report about the game in 1943, no further media reports about netball at Zonnebloem could be found (Zonnebloem College Magazine 1944:10).



Sport facilities

By 1904, a past student reported that the grounds were well laid out and many opportunities were available to students for indulging in healthy athletic games. A special feature was the swimming pool, which the students patronised well, especially in the summer season (Veld and African Pictorial 1904:21). This swimming pool was in existence by 1902 (South African Spectator 1902:5). For many years, Zonnebloem was also the only Coloured school in Cape Town with a proper soccer field, whilst St. Phillip's School used the netball court immediately above the working brickfield, free of charge (Cape Standard 1945:3; Cape Standard 1947:6). The extent of the ground was such that a reader in the Cape Standard asked the Cape Town City Council to arrange for golf facilities for Coloured players on the Zonnebloem grounds, on the edge of Devil's Peak (Cape Standard 1936:8).

The Zonnebloem archives has an article from the Cape Times about the use of the Rosebank Common by the Coloured sport fraternity being under threat, as well as the use of Woodstock Beach by Coloureds facing a similar threat because of the Harbour Scheme. Those responsible for Coloured sport were concerned about the inadequate provision of grounds for the thousands of school children and adult Coloured sportpeople in the city area. Therefore, when Zonnebloem started laying out their fields, a request came in immediately for the use thereof by the St. Mark's School (UCT, MAD BC 636 A10.53; UCT, MAD BC 636 A10.61).

Archival records show that recreation on the official sport facilities was sometimes directed by club culture, which dictated certain formalities. On 17 September 1923, an agreement was signed between the Young People's Circle Recreation Club and the College authorities. The club was allowed the use of a section of the grounds in front of the Training School and that part of the Zonnebloem School known as Prowse's Brick Works for playing football, cricket, hockey, basketball, etc. The club agreed to maintain the area and also to see to it that no property surrounding the grounds is damaged in any way. The agreement was valid for a year, starting from 1 October 1923 to 31 September 1924, and subject to any bylaws the College authorities may deem necessary (UCT, MAD BC 636 B3. 133). The club also agreed to donate the sum of 10 shillings per month to the College authorities for the use of the grounds. The first payment was due on 1 August 1923. William Musselwhite, who became warden in 1916, signed this agreement for the College, while Roland Botha signed it for the recreation club (UCT, MAD BC 636 B3. 134; Hodgson & Edlman 2018:191).

By 1934, the College authorities started paying increased attention to the development of playing sites as sport grounds. A sub-committee suggested that the matter of making bricks should be expedited so that the profits from brick making may be applied to the preparation of sport grounds (UCT, MAD BC 636 C2. 48). In the same year, the students and teachers at Zonnebloem Training School started to build their own sport field because of insufficient funds to hire labour (UCT. MAD BC 636 A 10.20). The College also had access to the Anglican archbishop and appealed to him in 1936 for support in the acquisition of playing fields (UCT, MAD BC 636 C2.71). Included in correspondence from the warden to the principal on 29 April 1937, and marked as confidential, was a progress report on the sport field development project. At that time, there were no playing fields in playing condition yet; therefore, those in Mowbray and Rosebank had to be used (Sun 1937f:6). The result was that players, many from financially poor families, in addition to a hard game, had to walk 10 miles (in order to get to the fields and back) (UCT, MAD BC 636 A10.52). According to archival records, the warden also arranged for the planting of 20 trees to fill up the gaps amongst the existing trees surrounding the boarding house and suggested that the new field be called "Coronation Field" (Zonnebloem papers, BC 636 A10.49). The College authorities also used collection cards for the purchase of equipment for this field (UCT, MAD BC 636 C2. 71).

The warden was in the process of getting quotations on fencing, implying that the field would be an enclosed space (see Cleophas 2020 for the closed-field movement in Cape Town). He asked Mary Waters to arrange with Gilbert Little to have a regular supply of 12 to 24 dayboys, who did not have any game commitment, to assist daily. Waters, a white woman, was singled out for appreciation by Allie Fataar as follows:

She was a teacher of geography, and of course psychology, and her method of teaching was very good. English-trained, but she'd worked in the Transkei so she could also speak Xhosa. Lived in Sea Point in a flat there, but a woman without any colour ... consciousness. And she had apparently inherited some money, so whatever she earned at Zonnebloem she spent on us (Omar 2015:160).

The College authorities kept detailed records of sport facility development, which benefits Zonnebloem school historians. A certain Mr Gaven plotted out the lower field and said that with £1000 capital and a lorry he could level off the field and show a profit in two years. Income from the fields could come from both fund raising and the hiring out of Coronation Fields. A loan of £500 from the Brick-making and Playing Fields Committee was also necessary. A third field, Cambridge Field above Coronation Field, could also be levelled in a year's time with the help of a regular labour supply of dayboys. The warden also hoped to obtain a small piece of land for the layout of a fourth fully-sized field below De Waal Drive. This was to be called Plantation Field and was the last of the fields to be developed. He also identified certain sites suitable for tennis courts and netball pitches. In May 1937, the Zonnebloem College authorities launched an appeal for funds for two playing fields (UCT, MAD BC 636 A10.49). The Developments Committee of the Zonnebloem Advisory Council oversaw the project and had its first meeting on Saturday 26 June 1937. This committee also had a Coronation Sports Fund consisting of 9 members (UCT, MAD BC 636 A10.62).

However, the support in general for the development of playing fields was unsatisfactory. When the Zonnebloem Past Students gathered for their annual meeting on 29 September 1937, the acting warden, Le Sauer, stated that the response to the appeal for help in obtaining playing fields at Zonnebloem was disappointing (Sun 1937i:2). In correspondence between Father Bull (an Anglican minister who had previously been associated with Mission School in Ndabeni) and the Zonnebloem administration, the cleric was made aware that Zonnebloem counted on St. Phillip's Church and School - the new location of Father Bull - for financial support for the development of the playing fields (UCT, MAD BC 636 A10.66; Rousby 1906:26). At the monthly meeting of the City Council, a recommendation from the Parks and Improvements Committee was accepted that £500 be granted to Zonnebloem College for the purpose of putting in order a playing field for use by the students and children of the immediate neighbourhood (Cape Standard 1940a:5.) The Second World War however put a hold on any further development. After the war, in December 1946, the City Council approved a scheme for the erection of large sport grounds for use by the "non-European" group. The site in question was part of Zonnebloem, adjoining the area known as Dry Docks, just below De Waal Drive (Cape Standard 1946:4).



Athletics was the most reported sport code at Zonnebloem and therefore the historical narrative can be periodized.


It was under the tutelage of Parkhurst that the Zonnebloem College Magazine (ZCM) reported on an athletics sports day held on the football field in 1901. This was the first sports event held for some years, indicating that such events had occurred previously (Parkhurst, 1901:1). The boys were divided according to height for the high jump, and according to age for the foot races. J. Mvabaza won the champion's prize for the day and Jacoba Meyer won the girl's prize (Hodgson & Edlman 2018:171; Parkhurst 1901:1). The official results are seen in Table 2 following below:



Mandell 1984:151). No results could however be found for this athletics meeting. The report in the Quarterly Magazine does however show to what extent British culture had infiltrated missionary school sport, especially in the after-celebrations. After the meeting, Mrs Parkhurst presented the prizes and was herself presented with a bouquet. Daniel Moshesh presented it and his remarks were followed by hearty and approving applauds. A musical programme was performed under the directorship of Michael Gaboutloeloe, who led the Bechuana choir in amusing the onlookers with choruses and comic items. The warden, Parkurst, urged the boys to keep up their athletics and congratulated them on their great success that day. Afterwards, G. van der Hoven and J. Moshesh were each presented with a gold-nib fountain pen for the trouble they had taken in arranging the sports. "God save the King" brought the evening to a close (Zonnebloem Quarterly Magazine and Journal of the Association of St. John Baptist 1904:10, 16-17).



In 1905 a swimming race, diving competition, throwing the cricket ball and kicking the football were added to the existing athletics programme (Zonnebloem Quarterly Magazine and Journal of the Association of St. John Baptist 1905a:29). Three years later Zonnebloem competed in a Cape Town Gala Sports Day competition at Green Point Track. The ZCM reported on the Zonnebloem winners of different events as follows:



Paul Heneke's name appears in the ZCM 1907 list of successful first-year pupil-teacher candidates. And in 1935 he was the TLSA president (Adhikari 1993: 185; Zonnebloem Quarterly Magazine and Journal of the Association of St. John Baptist 1908:83). A gap exists in the archival record that can only be continued from 1932.


The next available media report that could be traced was from a 1932 CSSU series athletics meeting at the City and Suburban Rugby Ground, Mowbray. The Zonnebloem results were: D Klein - first in Boys under 17 100 yards flat in a winning time of 11.5 seconds; R February - second in Boys over 17 100 yards flat; D King - third in Boys over 17 100 yards flat (Sun 1932b:8). A prominent Zonnebloem athlete during the early 1930s was Colin Wynne. He was coached by Gilbert Little and later became principal of Zonnebloem (Primary) School. Like many other prominent Coloured sportsmen and women, he emigrated to Canada (Little 2005). Wynne made his debut at a CSSU meeting held on Wednesday 9 November 1932. The Zonnebloem results of that meeting were as follows: D Klein - first in Boys under 17 220 yards in a time of 25 seconds); Colin Wynne - second in Boys under 17 220 yards; R February - second in Boys over 17 100 yards flat; D King - third in Boys over 17 100 yards flat. The Zonnebloem results for the last meeting in the 1932 CSSU series were as follows: Colin Wynne - first in Boys under 17 440 yards flat in a time of 55 3/5 seconds; W Jonkers - second in Boys under 17 440 yards flat; D Klein - third in Boys under 17 440 yards flat (Sun 1932c:8). Zonnebloem entered an athletics team for the inaugural Alexander Shield inter-school athletic competition at Trafalgar High in 1933. Here follow the names of the Zonnebloem students who finished in the top three positions for their respective events. Boys under 17 100 yards flat: Colin Wynne - first in 11 1/5 seconds and J Vegotine - third; Boys under 17 half-mile walk: M Oliver - third; Boys under 17 880 yards: W Jonkers - third; Boys under 17 440 yards flat: Colin Wynne - first; Girls under 17 200 yards flat: C Pietersen - first in 28 seconds (Sun 1933b:7).


In 1934, the Alexander Shield athletics day was held again. There were the following officials: judges (Rev. Oscar C. Hine, Edward Augustus Ball, G Veldman, Ms Mary Waters, Ms M Hughes and Ms D Cloete), timekeepers (W Seaton and E Mercury), director of sports (Gilbert S Little), starter (G Malherbe), record clerk (Roland Botha), competitors' steward (I Kiewitz), corner judges (DJ Isaaks and Dan Jacobus Abrahams) and secretary of the meeting (G de Rouxbaix) (Sun 1934a:1). A few of these names have been noted elsewhere in historical research. Oscar Charles Hine was referred to earlier in this study. Edward Ball was the College principal while Mary Waters contributed to the shaping of the political thoughts of a later radical left-wing activist, Allie Fataar (Omar 2015:167, 216). Then, Dan Abrahams and Gilbert Little were administrators of the early Central School Sports Union in the 1930s (Cleophas 2014:1871). Regarding the above-mentioned athletics day results, the available Zonnebloem results in finishing position order (1st, 2ndand 3rd) for the under and over 17 age divisions appear in the next table.



Overall, Zonnebloem College tied for second place with Battswood College with 28 points in the Alexander Shield Competition. Livingstone High School won the competition with 47 points and Trafalgar High finished fourth with 5 points (Sun 1934c:7). The individual Zonnebloem results for this competition in the under 17 and over 17 age divisions are presented in the following table:



Also, in 1934, a series of athletic meetings was organised by the CSSU, of which only one result sheet could be traced (Table 7).



By 1934 Zonnebloem athletes were competing in community athletics meetings and Colin Wynne finished eighth out of nine places in the Salford Harriers Athletics Club handicap series (Sun 1934d:8). This was a club that was established in 1911 by a former Battswood Training School student, S.F. Davids and a few others (S.A. Clarion, 1920b:14).


In 1935 Zonnebloem competed again in the Alexander Shield inter-schools' athletics competition. The individual results for Zonnebloem participants are given in Table 8.



No Zonnebloem athletic results could be obtained for 1936, but members of the 1937 Zonnebloem athletics team are given here: (Boys) A Bavasah, F Murray, P Meyer, Petersen, J Damonzem, C Abrahams, Vries, S Levendal, R Oliver, W Williams, P Jansen and A Rorich; (Girls) J Titus and E Ahrends (UCT, MAD BC 636 D2.85). Individual Zonnebloem results for CSSU competitions in 1937 are presented in Table 9. These results may prove useful for later statistical purposes.



The available results for Zonnebloem participants in the CSSU competitions for 1938 are as follows:




No results could be found for 1939 and results for only one athletics meeting was found for 1940, on 31 May. This was probably due to Zonnebloem downscaling their extra-mural activities because of the Second World War. The final individual Zonnebloem results for the C.S.U. meeting of 31 May 1940 follow in the next table:



The year 1941 proved to be a successful athletics season for Zonnebloem in the CSSU annual competition. Zonnebloem Training School won the 1941 Diamond House Trophy6 at the Green Point Track on Friday 30 May. The school also won the senior Coronation Cup for most points in the under 17 and over 17 sections (Cape Standard 1941:8; Cape Standard 1942:10). The outstanding athletes of that meeting are presented in Table 12.



In the 1942 CSSU annual athletics meeting, Gordon was singled out in the media as the most outstanding Zonnebloem athlete in the over 17 division. He won the 220 yards in 23.9 seconds, 440 yards in 54.9 seconds and finished second in the 100 yards. Another Zonnebloem athlete who excelled was M. Wynne, who "won several events in the girls' section in fine style" (Cape Standard 1942b:11). Two years later, in the CSSU athletics tournament, Zonnebloem won the Diamond House Trophy (Zonnebloem College Magazine 1944:10; Sun 1944:5). In March of 1944, the Achilles Athletic Club was established and sponsored by Dr JM Joshua. The club trained at Green Point Track and the sessions were open to all, irrespective of race or gender. The first secretary was a teacher from Livingstone High School, BJ Petersen, and Gilbert Little was the first chairman (Cape Standard 1944:8). Gilbert Little was a teacher at Zonnebloem at the time. Zonnebloem archival records indicate that the College also planned inter-house athletics meetings during the Second World War. In 1944, Carter House won the annual inter-house competition and received their shield from the archbishop (UCT, MAD BC 636 D2.101). The Zonnebloem inter-house athletics meeting for 1945, with Gilbert Little as the convenor, was cancelled because of bad weather (Cape Standard 1945b:11).


Cricket before 1907

Team sports were encouraged at most Anglican schools (Worden, Van Heyningen & Bickford-Smith 1998:239). Sufficient evidence exists of cricket being played by Zonnebloem and Zonnebloem Old Boys during the 19th century (Hodgson & Edlman 2018:35-37, 121-123). A few former Zonnebloem cricketers became national personalities in public life and sport. These include Robert Grendon and Frank Robb (Winch & Parry 2020:43, 116-117). Cricket was the favourite sport and matches were played against local community teams (Hodgson & Edlman 2018:171). By 1864 the College had two teams, and in 1865 cricket was a budgeted item and the College spent 18 shillings on a cricket bat and 8 shillings and 6 pence on a ball (Hodgson 1975:453). That year two away matches were recorded - in Rondebosch and Wynberg (Hodgson 1975:453). The earliest recorded match in Stellenbosch was between a group of Zonnebloem boys visiting the town on 30 June 1865 and a group of local boys (Hodgson 1975:454).

A "droll cricket match" took place between members of the Dutch Reformed Synod, who visited Cape Town in 1886 and the College team (Hodgson & Edlman 2018:155). Sometime during the 19th century, the Molteno Club was established by a few Zonnebloem Old Boys. This club practised at a venue called Varney's Corner in 1899 (Cape Times 1899a:6). A historical account given by two captains, Dan Smit and S. Sampson, provides insight into the nature of the game played at the time. Both spoke enthusiastically of a time when "fast and straight bowling was the correct method of attack and the batsman who could score the fastest was the hero of the day". Smit reminisced on the time when "the innings were shorter but bright and spectacular cricket could always be witnessed and spectators were in plenty" (Cape Standard, 1939b:2). The club was named, in colonial fashion, after the Cape Town mayor, who had opened the Molteno Reservoir in 1886. The first games were played against the other clubs in a Coloured "Union" that existed during the 19th century: Mowbray, Wasps and Simonstown Advanced Clubs. After Molteno won the Mowbray Cup for two consecutive seasons (1895-1896) the "Union" went into decline and League cricket "became a dead letter for the coloured people of Cape Town" (Cape Standard, 1939b:20. The Moltenos arranged friendly matches between themselves and the Garrison, the visiting Australians that toured South Africa in 1902. They also arranged matches between themselves and the Western Province, and Cape Town clubs during the week at Newlands, as well as playing in other games on Thursday afternoons (Cape Standard, 1939b:2; Chesterfield, 2003:7). The article in the Cape Standard could however be misleading since there was also a Cape Town-based club called "Australians" (Cape Times, 1899b:6). Most of the Molteno players were in government employ and got time off from work. The heads of government departments and other civil servants were supporters at the games. A veteran recalled that it was "Sampson who was one of the first batsmen to play the off-ball hard and he and Theys were the original slow bowlers ... shortly afterwards slow bowling was introduced to the Cape" (Cape Standard, 1939b:2).

By 1906, Zonnebloem had their own cricket grounds but also played away matches. Two reports appeared in the college magazine that year. On 8 September they played against the Rhodesian Cricket Club and the following week against the St Augustine Club (Zonnebloem Quarterly Magazine and Journal of the Association of St. John Baptist, 1906:55). The College defeated the Rhodesians by 15 runs although they bowled badly. Against the St Augustine Club, they lost by 40 runs (Quarterly Magazine and Journal, 1906:55). To date no research could be found that has explored the historical background of the Rhodesian Club, but it is known that St Augustine Club was established in 1899 at the St Paul's Church in Cape Town under the direction of Canon (later Bishop) Lavis (Cleophas n.d.). That year of 1906 the cricket club released its batting and bowling averages, which is presented in Table 13.



Finally, there is a report from the Anglican Church on a cricket match between the St. Cyprian's Mission School in Ndabeni and the Zonnebloem second team in 1907 (Worden, Van Heyningen & Bickford-Smith, 1998:239).


Indigenous games

Little evidence exists of boys playing indigenous games at Zonnebloem. There is, however, one account of boys playing indigenous games, games that they played in their villages. In 1905, the Quarterly Magazine carried an article describing three indigenous games which were played by boys who were familiar with these games. The first, Seloka, was a Bechuana game, the second, Insema, was a Matebele game, and the third, Karete, was a Basuto game (Zonnebloem Quarterly Magazine and Journal of the Association of St. John Baptist 1905a:12).



When, on occasions, in 1901, the Zonnebloem boys played soccer with boys from District Six on Zonnebloem premises on Sunday afternoons, the warden, Parkhurst, denied it publicly that the students engaged in such activity. He stated in a South African Spectator that year that the students are neither allowed nor anxious to play games on Sundays. Instead, Parkhurst emphasized the need for removing the "riff-raff of the neighbourhood infesting the College grounds on Sundays with their footballs in defiance of the police and himself (Cleophas undated). In 1904, Harold Cressy, after whom a well-known Cape Town school is named and who was the first president of the Teachers' League of South Africa (TLSA), served on the executive committee of the Zonnebloem College Football Club, and was described as a creditable wing (Zonnebloem Quarterly Magazine and Journal of the Association of St. John Baptist 1905a:28; for an account of Harold Cressy's life story, see Adhikari 2012; for historical accounts on the TLSA, see Adhikari 1993 and Hendricks 2010). The office bearers of the soccer club that year were Norman Cressy (captain), H Stonier (vice-captain), M Gaboutloeloe (secretary), G Mji, H Makenna, Harold Cressy (committee members) and Mr Ames (treasurer) (Zonnebloem Quarterly Magazine and Journal of the Association of St. John Baptist, 1904:16). In 1932, football (soccer and rugby) made relatively good progress, and between the two rugby teams and the six soccer teams that entered the SCU competition, Zonnebloem won 9 trophies in the competition (Sun 1932d:7).


Zonnebloem Past Students' Union

Zonnebloem alumni organised themselves into an organisation called the Zonnebloem Past Students Union (ZPSU), sometimes referred to as Old Zonnebloem Union or Old Zonns. In 1920, the Cape Town branch of the ZPSU formed an Old Zonn's Athletic Club, with the intention of keeping former scholars together. The club consisted of football (already in existence), cricket and gymnasium sections. The organisers were JC Wyngaard and R. Hoedemaker of 11 Primrose Street, Cape Town. One of the football players was Phil Petersen who was also a Western Province backline player. When he joined the Y.M.O. soccer club, the S.A. Clarion called it a scoop for them. W. Hanmer was the Old Zonn's goalkeeper at that time (S.A. Clarion 1920a:9, 14).

Social days at Zonnebloem were almost always accompanied by sports events. In 1932, the past students played against the present students in a soccer match at the Festival of the Association of St. John the Baptist where the past students defeated the present students 2-1. When women were allowed into the ZPSU, a netball match between past and present students was also played where the former defeated the present girls 1915. The day was concluded with "God save the King" (Sun 1932a:2). In 1933, a concert was arranged on 28 April for funds towards the purchase of suitable sports equipment for the junior boys (Sun 1933a:5). The following year, two Victor Ludorum trophies were donated by the Union to the College to be awarded to deserving sportspersons (Sun 1934b:7). An Old Zonns' Day was planned for 31 August 1935 where cards, chess, baseball and netball were on the entertainment list (Sun 1935a:1). After the mayor, Louis Gradner, gave a speech on how the Coloured community should imitate his community, the Jewish community, and raise above discrimination, a programme of elaborate sports followed (Sun, 1935b:1). The following year, on 9 October 1936, the Cape Town Dance Teachers' Association (CTDTA) staged a Grand Dance Display in the City Hall as part of the ZPSU festival. According to the Sun, this was the first of its kind for a 'non-European' audience (Sun, 1936b:9).

A Cape Standard reporter wrote in 1943 that the Old Zonns' Day has always been an important event on the College calender. This was no less so when, in the same year, the ZPSU planned a programme for 27 September. The afternoon session consisted of a netball match and rugby match between past and present students. Afterwards, tea was served in the warden's garden, followed by a bioscope show in the College Hall, the film being Climbing high, featuring Jessie Matthews. The evening session was concluded with a welcome address to the past students by the new principal, Frank Cullis, followed by a social, a dance and games (Cape Standard, 1943:12).


Old Zonnebloem Union in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia)

A ZPSU student branch was established in the Bulawayo Coloured School in 1939 in Rhodesia (Cape Standard 1939a:10). That year, a games and hobbies section was started at the Rusapi Coloured School in Rhodesia. The following gifts were donated by well-wishers: a cricket set with three sets of pads and wicket-keeper's gloves, a ball for netball and a set of netball rings, two dozen tennis balls, a football, one set of boxing gloves and skipping ropes (Sun 1939a:12). The ZPSU in Rhodesia was also connected to the Shamrock Football Club in Bulawayo, which was established in 1925 (Sun 1939b:11). In 1938, the chairman of the club was FC Fischer, a Zonnebloem Old Boy (Sun 1938:11).


Concluding classroom exercises for reflection

Identify significant sport administrators at Zonnebloem and explain why you think they are historically significant. (4)

Describe the enabling as well as limiting factors for sport participation at Zonnebloem. (5)

Identify the career of one male and one female Zonnebloem sportsperson as mentioned in this article, and provide statistics for this person. (6)

Identify historically significant sporting moments in Zonnebloem's history and justify why you regard them as historically significant. (5)

Identify two sporting examples of a formal nature and two sporting examples of an informal nature at Zonnebloem. (4)

Describe what you consider to be either virtues or vices of the Zonnebloem Past Students Union. (5)

Comment on the differences between the track and field histories of girls and boys. (3)

Identify a sportsman and sportswoman of the year for any year at Zonnebloem. State what criteria you have designed, mention the shortlisted candidates, and justify your decision. (10)

Identify a possible family sport history based on surnames in the Zonnebloem narrative. (5)

Design a time- line cricket history for Zonnebloem between 1864 and 1907. (10)

Write a one-page essay, where you argue for or against: "Zonnebloem was an elitist school that was in its existence removed from the surrounding community." (20)

Write an athletics history of Zonnebloem by referring to the results. Compare the times, distances and heights with other colleges and present a general historical overview of athletics at Zonnebloem for the time period under review. Ensure that you pay attention to the role of women in athletics at Zonnebloem. (15)

Identify any five sport codes that the Zonnebloem Old Boys played. (5)

Design two tables where you describe the similarities and differences between Zonnebloem and an English boys' school such as Eton, Rugby or Winchester. (any number of marks)



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1 In this study the term, black, refers to the politically constructed references African, Coloured and Indian in the South African context. The author distances himself from any biological stereotyping associatied with these classifications.
2 Initially Zonnebloem was an ordinary school. Later, it was divided into a teacher training department (referred to as the College in common terms), a secondary school and primary school. All three divisions together is referred to as the Zonnebloem Institution.
3 The author was unsuccessful in determining the meaning of 'V.C'. It is however left in the text so as to add to the completeness of reporting.
4 The author was unsuccessful in determining the meaning of 'choister'. It is however left in the text so as to add to the completeness of reporting.
5 This is possibly a trophy donated by the Percival R. Biggs, a chemistry teacher at Trafalgar High School, Cape Town, who made a name for himself in the local science community for his research into hydroponics (Cape Herald, 1965) p. 8.
6 At this stage it is uncertain who the donor of the Diamond Trophy was.

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