Traditional African Children's Games

By Stephanie Smith
Children play games that are known in various regions or just one particular part of the continent.

Around Africa children utilize many forms of entertainment from the Western world, but still play traditional games that have endured the ages. The following games are played in various parts of the continent and can be played anywhere. Review the following games and determine which ones may be perfect for the children in your life---or the child in you!

Mbube Mbube

Mbube Mbube uses one of the Zulu words for lion.

Pronounced "Mboo-bay Mboo-bay," this game uses a Zulu word for lion. The Zulu tribe is based in what is modern-day South Africa. The game is good for groups of six or more.

In this game, children help a lion, or mbube, locate and capture an impala (a deer-like animal with antlers). Players begin the game standing in a circle and two blindfolded players start the game. One player is the lion and the other one is the impala.

First, both players are spun around. Next, players in the circle begin calling out to the lion, "mbube, mbube!" As the impala gets closer to the lion, the circle players’ chants get quicker and louder. Conversely, if the lion is far away, the circle’s chants decrease and get softer.

If the lion fails to catch the impala in a minute, a new lion is chosen, and if the lion catches the impala, a new impala is chosen.

Ampe

Ghana's children often grow up playing simple games like Ampe.

Ampe is a simple game played by schoolchildren in Ghana. Like Mbube Mbube, Ampe is a great game for groups.

In this game, the group chooses one player to be the leader. Then, the other players stand in a semicircle as the leader faces the players at either end of the group.

Next, the leader and the player at the end both clap hands. After that, both jump in place at the same time. Lastly, both jump and thrust one foot forward.

If both put the same foot forward, the leader is out and the player takes the leader's place. If they each put a different foot forward, the leader moves to the next player and resumes the same physical challenge.

Leaders get a point for every time they defeat a player, and every player takes a turn as a leader. The player with the most points wins.

Kudoda

Kudoda is a game often played with pebbles or small stones, but marbles work fine too.

In Zimbabwe, children play a game called Kudoda. In this game, players sit in a circle and a bowl filled with 20 pebbles or marbles is placed in the center of the circle.

The first player tosses one pebble in the air (be careful not to throw too high!) Next, the player tries to pick up as many pebbles as possible before catching the tossed pebble. After each person takes a turn and all pebbles have been collected, the person with the most is the winner.

About the Author

Stephanie Smith is an attorney. She's been writing for five years about the environment, housing policy and pop culture. Her work has been published on eHow and About.com.