The African continent has traditional, yet exciting games. They are played with simple things present in front of you including stones and ground. A typical African child should have played one of these games while growing up. However, with the erosion of westernization, some of these games are becoming extinct. Kids from different families hardly spend time together anymore.
COVID-19 is making it more difficult for everyone to have fun. However, these African games are built based on social interaction and aim to create an inclusive social environment with fewer participants. Besides, these fun games don’t only focus on your physical strength but also help in improving basic maths and mental reasoning. This holiday season, lockdown and restrictions should not stop you from having fun. These African games are all you need.
Let us assure you that Morabaraba is not your average board game. It is a traditional fun activity in South Africa. These days, this game is played all across the continent, especially in Ghana and Somalia. Even though there are different versions of this game, most of them are similar to ‘Men Morris,’ which is played in European nations.
Interestingly, the origin of this game remains unclear. However, numerous historians suggest that in the southern part of Africa, it was used to increase the appreciation for critical and tactical thinking among the herd boys. This is an easy game and has very simple rules. The pieces used in the game are dubbed “cows”. If you want to win against your opponent you must do it with three main stages of the game, including moving, placing, and flying the cows. So, what are you waiting for? Below is a video that highlights how to play the game.
Another game on our list of best African games is Diketo. It is played between two or more players. This game is famous in the streets of most African nations and parts of South East Asia. However, the best part is that you don’t need to buy a board or any other thing to play this. All you need are some pebbles and a big stone plus two circles of 10 cm on the ground. Every player gets ten rocks.
This game starts with the player throwing a big stone in the air. At the same time, you have to remove all the small ten stones in a circle and catch the bigger one with the same hand before it touches the ground. If a player fails to capture the big rock, it becomes the other player’s turn. Eventually, the person with the most pebbles in their hand wins the game. Interestingly, you can play this game alone to test your skill and agility. However, we recommend you play this with your family. Watch the video below to get a better idea of how to play the game.
The name of this game sounds interesting but it’s even more interesting to play. You’ll need a total of 15 counters and a board that has a triangular extension on one side to play the game. In the older tradition, the board was drawn on the ground, and pebbles were used as counters.
One player plays the white dog while the other controls the black jaguar. We would suggest you take the black jaguar because it gets the first and alternative turns. Your main aim would be to capture as many as five dogs to draw the game, which is a win for the jaguar. If white dogs block the jaguar from making any move, the player wins the game. Think it is too complex? Don’t worry, you will figure it out as you watch the video below.
Call Ayo the traditional chess game for Nigerians and you won’t be wrong. It is similar to the famous Oware game that spread across Africa following the slave trade. Ayo involves a board that is composed of two rows of six holes. If there is no board, you can dig holes in the ground. Apart from that, the game needs a total of 48 seeds, with four seeds placed in every hole. When it is the player’s turn, he/she takes all the seeds from one of his/her holes and sows them counterclockwise. Each time there are four seeds in your hole after the initial start, you keep it. It’s a game that builds your reasoning ability. See a video tutorial of how to play the game below.
Are you planning to keep your family fit during the lockdown? We have the perfect solution for it. Ever heard of Abula? Well, it is a popular game in Nigeria. Surprisingly, it is also becoming a compulsory part of extra-curricular activities in schools. You might be wondering what are the rules of this game and how is it played? Well, you need a decent court similar to that of a volleyball. There are four players on each side. You’ll need a ball and a special Abula bat which is kind of handy. The face that makes contact with the ball is only 20 cm. Things start to roll after the toss. The winner serves and starts the game just like tennis or badminton. Don’t still understand it? see the video below.
#6. SuweLong before there was television or a PlayStation, Suwe was among the best African games in many parts of Africa. This communal game brought kids from different backgrounds together. Within no time, it spread across the globe. If you did not play this game during your childhood, you were probably more of an introvert. The best part of this game is that there is no limit to the number of participants. Also, you only need two people for a game set. A rectangular shape is drawn on the ground and divided into blocks by lines. Once the game starts, the first player throws a pebble on the first small rectangle and travels on one leg through the enter boxes, avoiding the box with the pebble. Once the player completes the journey through the entire box, they qualify to buy a home. They have to turn away from the box and randomly throw their pebble. Any box it falls on becomes their home. On subsequent plays, they can place both legs in their home. The game continues until there is no more home to acquire. Whoever acquires more blocks is declared the winner!
#7. Who Is In The Garden?
We are sure that your kids would love this circle game. Start by making a circle and choose a leader of the group. Now, the leader is the one who walks around the circle and says, “who is in the garden?”. Every player replies that there is a little boy/ girl, in response, the leader replies, “Can I come and see her?” Everyone says, “No, No.” He then says, “Now you follow me” and taps another person from the circle, who is supposed to follow the leader outside the circle. This keeps on going until two people are left. Lastly, the one who has not been tapped by the leader now chases the others. They then start the next round of the game, and the last person who had to chase others becomes the leader in the new game.
Don’t mind the name, Kgati is an easy game. It would be fair to say that it is more like the popular skipping sport. With three persons involved in the game, two of them hold the sides of the rope, and the third one jumps while singing and chanting superhit songs. Seems fun, right? Interestingly, this is a kind of sport that the spectators catch fun too by trying to coach the person jumping the rope.
Usually, when it is played dozens of people gather around to watch the player’s skill of moving his/her feet quickly with a sense of humor. Not even COVID-19 lockdown can stop you from playing this game at home. Also, it will give you a chance to look back in time when men were boys and women, young girls. Undoubtedly, African games are a perfect gateway from a hectic working schedule.
Even though you might find this a little different from the other board African games, this was popular among young kids in South Africa herding livestock in the rural areas. Why wouldn’t it be? Clearly, it keeps them active. The stick-fighting game is played between two people. Not to forget, they must be armed with two sticks. Yes, you heard it right! One is for offense, while the other for defense. The competing rivals slowly hit each other with sticks. The one who hits the hardest is declared the winner. Does it sound like sword-fighting or fencing? Have a look at the video below.
Jukskei goes back to nearly 200 years. It is played in two sandpits separated by grass. Also, you will need skies—wooden pins used to strike the target. Each team has four players, and every player gets two pins. A wooden peg is set in the middle as the target. Every time a team strikes the peg, they get three points while the knocked pegs are set up right before the next team’s turn. The one with the highest points wins the game. Are there any sand pitches near you? If yes, then get yourself a peg and pins ASAP! Have a look at what it feels like when you are in action.
In the deepest despair often lies the greatest hope. COVID-19 made it hard for friends and loved ones to connect. However, it brought families closer due to lockdowns. Perhaps, this dire situation can help to revive some of the dying African games. Are there any traditional African games that deserve to be on this list? Feel free to share it with us in the comment box below.
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