A quarterly specialized journal
The Message Of Folklore from Bahrain To The World

Children’s traditional sports in Tunisia

Issue 25
Children’s traditional sports in Tunisia

The historical development of Tunisian culture has played a significant role in the development of a diverse culture over thousands of years, from the Punic age and the Roman and Byzantine eras to the Islamic and Arab ages. Authenticity characterised Tunisian culture, which includes influences from a number of civilisations from the East to the West. Tunisia, a small African country that borders the Mediterranean Sea, was a cultural melting pot. This has contributed to the present connection between Tunisia’s Arab-Islamic culture and other cultures, especially those of Europe.


Today, the world is threatened by cultural dominance from the West. Moroccan intellectual Abdul Said Al Sharqawi said, “We and the rest of the world are heading for one meeting point, the Americanisation of culture.”

All societies are now responsible for protecting their cultural heritages, which are a major part of their identities and a reflection of their civilisations. The individual’s relationship with cultural heritage must be renewable, vivid and alive; this relationship should combine heritage with one’s individual self. According to Al Jabri, “When the self merges with heritage, it is different from heritage merging with the self”.

Heritage is an important component of individual and national character.

Despite what some Tunisians think, sports are a social phenomenon and not merely random individual or group games. Many researchers have studied sports and forms of traditional entertainment and concluded that there is a strong relationship between sports and culture. Heritage games have long been associated with vibrant societies, daily life, practices, rituals, traditions and norms. It has been proven that sports represent a social system that distinguishes one society from another. A society’s diversity is a result of the difference in societies’ cultural peculiarities; every social system has a unique sports and entertainment system that derives its foundations from the social structure, traditions and customs of those who practice traditional sports and games.

I am defining culture as “a nation’s particular set of information, knowledge, practices and values that distinguish it from other nations; culture is the nation’s personality, its features, and its way of life.”

Based on this definition, we must question the standing of sports games in cultural models and ask, “Are sports a form of cultural expression?” This paper attempts to answer this question.

Every culture enjoys certain sports that are passed down through the generations; these sports are called traditional games. Taking traditions and customs into account, cultural traits are passed on through these traditional games. Ahmed Abu Said defines traditional games as ‘all unique games having a comprehensive system of terms, songs, historical and geographical features.’

Izzuddin Bu Zayd

All Issue