Pre­serv­ing child­hood games in SA cul­ture

Fes­ti­val to build di­verse so­ci­ety of shared her­itage

Sunday World - - Life - By So­maya Stock­en­stroom Jukskei

Way back be­fore PlayS­ta­tions and Wi-Fi, the switch­ing on of street­lights as the sun set would be an in­di­ca­tion for kids to go home.

Dur­ing the day kids would spend hours jump­ing rope, throw­ing balls over a stack of cans while try­ing to catch each other in a game called bathi, throw­ing sticks and col­lect­ing stones to play diketo and play­ing hop­scotch.

Obe­si­ty­was nev­eran is­sueas these games, car­ried down the gen­er­a­tions, en­sured chil­dren were ac­tive through­out the day.

To­day, the depart­ment of sport and re­cre­ation has man­aged to pre­serve these games in the form of the Indige­nous Games Fes­ti­val which is held ev­ery Septem­ber, to cel­e­brate Her­itage Month.

Mickey Modis­ane,


Back in 2010, the an­cient art also prac­tised by herders across cul­tures be­came a sport for many Xhosa boys as an al­ter­na­tive to join­ing gangs in the Cape’s town­ships, with con­tes­tants win­ning up to R1 000.

Is said to be more than 200 years old. Tra­di­tion­ally associated with Afrikan­ers, an an­nual tour­na­ment of the game is held in Kroon­stad in di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the depart­ment, says that indige­nous games are de­fined as phys­i­cal and char­ac­ter-build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties that orig­i­nate in var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties of South Africa. They are cul­tural play ac­tiv­i­ties that are dis­tinct to each cul­ture in SA.

More than be­ing fun, they build on team­work and bring peo­ple to­gether.

Each game has spe­cific skills and rules aimed at pro­mot­ing cer­tain African val­ues. Aside from the phys­i­cal prow­ess, it builds com­mu­ni­ca­tion, cog­ni­tive, and strate­gis­ing skills.

Re­search done by the Uni­ver­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg on indige­nous games says we have ap­prox­i­mately 500 games in South Africa.

The depart­ment started by for­mal­isingeight games. There are many dif­fer­ent names given to one game be­cause of var­i­ous cul­tures and lan­guages across the the coun­try.

But, the most com­monly ac­cepted names in­clude dibeke, iin­tonga, drie stokkies, the Free State. It is made up of a team of four play­ers, of kho-kho, ncuva and­morabaraba.

This year, the fes­ti­val will take place at the Seshego Sta­dium in Polok­wane, Lim­popo, from Septem­ber 23 to 28.

Modis­ane says cel­e­brat­ing these games was first in­tro­duced in 2001 and that the na­tional de­vel­op­ment plan pur­ports that cit­i­zens need to be more phys­i­cally ac­tive.

He also em­pha­sises that it’s im­por­tant to pre­serve the games be­cause they are not only child­hood games – but are an im­por­tant part of the African cul­ture.

Modis­anealso pointsout­that the white pa­per for sport and re­cre­ation states that cit­i­zens This game is sim­i­lar to net­ball. It in­volves play­ing the ball with your hands and throw­ing it at a player, but must have ac­cess to sport and re­cre­ation ac­tiv­i­ties.

“The re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion of the indige­nous games is an ini­tia­tive to build adi­verse so­ci­ety with a com­mon na­tional iden­tity, cel­e­brat­ing our shared her­itage,” says Modis­ane.

Be­fore the day, prov­inces are urged to regis­ter their teams to take part in a num­ber of games.

But, he em­pha­sises, all are wel­come as com­mu­ni­ties are given an op­por­tu­nity to be taught how to ap­pre­ci­ate the rich his­tory of the cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences as cu­rated through the games.

In 2008, the eight of­fi­cial indige­nous games were dis­played in Bu­san, Korea, at the Tafisa World Sport for All Tra­di­tional Games.

Be­sides the games, the fes­ti­val also cel­e­brates African cui­sine and show­cases an ar­ray of dif­fer­ent cul­tural en­ter­tain­ment.

“There will be a cul­tural street car­ni­val which will be tak­ing place dur­ing the open­ing of the games fol­lowed by a cul­tural fes­ti­val, tra­di­tional food cook­ing com­pe­ti­tions and a fashion show on se­lected days,” says Modis­ane.

He main­tains these games must be pre­served in or­der to get in touch with­our roots, and em­brace our African­ness in all av­enues of our lives.

Each game has spe­cific skills and rules

only to hit an op­pos­ing team mem­ber to send them off. While in net­ball the target is the net, in Dibeke the target is an op­pos­ing team player.

Sandile Ndlovu

KZN twins Tha­bile and Thabisile Jama got the judges’ at­ten­tion dur­ing the games.

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