Seven traditional games

2014-09-21 22:00

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South Africa’s Indigenous Games Festival takes place at the Tshwane Events Centre from today until Wednesday.

The event is growing in popularity and about 1?600 athletes and officials from the country’s provincial ­federations are expected to attend.

The sports and recreation and cooperative governance and traditional affairs departments are leading the call for the digitisation and formalisation of games such as diketo, lintonga, musangwe (bare-knuckle boxing) and others.

With the theme?–?My roots, my pride, my future?–?the three-day event attracts between 3?000 and 10?000 people daily and is by far South Africa’s biggest ­traditionalgames festival. I grew up on such games as kgati, morabaraba, diketo, yo-yo, masgalombe and hula hooping. For me it is very important that we keep these traditions alive.


Also known as ncuva or morula, morabaraba is one of South Africa’s most popular traditionalgames. Similar to chess, the Oxford dictionary says the term ‘morabaraba’ is ­derived from Sesotho and loosely translates to mean “mill” or to go around in a circle.

In its ­earliest form, it was played on a stone or rock, or the lines were drawn on the ground and players would use stones or bottle caps as movable bargaining pieces.

Like chess, this abstract strategic game sees two ­players trying to outmanoeuvre each other by moving the pieces from one intersection to another until a ­winner emerges.


Also known as ntimo or ugqaphu, kgati is a skipping game played by two people. Two players hold the skipping rope on each end, while the third player skips in a variety of ways while chanting and singing. In 2012, the South African Kgati team won gold at the 5th World Sport for All Games in Lithuania.


Also known as upuca, magava or ukugenda, this is a coordination game played mostly by young girls. Ten stones are placed in a circle or a square. Each player then tries to grab the most stones, throw them in the air and catch them in one hand until all the stones are back in the circle or square.


This is a stick-fighting game made popular by boys herding livestock in the rural areas of South Africa. It is played between two people armed with two long sticks?–?one is used for defence and the other is used for offence. The competing opponents hit each other with the sticks. The one who hits the hardest until his opponent surrenders is the winner.


Jukskei is a game with Cape origins and is associated with the Afrikaner gaming tradition where early ­travellers would try to knock over an upright stick with the jukskei?–?the wooden pin used in an ox’s yoke.


Also known as skununu, this is a running ball game played by two teams of six boys and six girls each, where the attacking team tries to kick the ball away from the defenders, while the latter use their hands to get the ball away from them.


Kho-kho has its origin in the Indian community. It is a tag sport played by teams who try to avoid being touched by the opposing team members. It is made up of two teams of nine members each, with eight players in each. They kneel facing each other, with the ninth being the chaser. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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