Indigenous Games

I grew up in the Cayman Islands. I didn’t play video games or watch TV. I would basically come home from school, throw down my backpack, grab my machete, and go hike and chop down trees to make a fort.

Author : Armie Hammer

Growing up in the villages and townships was fun because of the activities we used to play on the streets and got dirty. Playing outside of the yard used to get me into trouble with my mother. She did not quite like to see me aimlessly hovering around the streets. Unfortunately, it was not possible to keep me indoors unless we lived in the suburbs. If it was by choice, my mother would resist me from playing on the streets. To be in her good books, I made sure every time I came back from school, I do all my schoolwork and ran outside the yard to play. My street was known as a place where all indigenous games were played. I was the mastermind behind every game!

Before the hype of technology and PlayStations, these were the only games we knew in which we built strong relationships amongst each other. This is where we learned teamwork, communication, and trust. During lessons at school, I would strategize yet another way to beat my peers this time around. I was the mastermind behind every game which my friends would always fight for me to be in their team if we play against each other in groups.

Here are some of the indigenous I used to play. I know you can relate.


  • Diketo can be played in either a drawn circle on the floor or in a shallow hole dug on the ground. Each player tries to get the most stones, throw one stone in the air, and catch the rest one by one from the hole. We used to dig holes on the streets such that one of the neighbors complained that we should never dig any hole in front of her house.


  • Kgati was my favorite game because I was thin, flexible and tall. It is a rope-skipping game between three people. Two people swing the skipping rope and the third person jumps in different ways, usually singing and chanting. The fun of the game is that as you chant in the middle, you must make sure the rope does not stick between the legs. It was an advantage for me because I was thin, the rope never got stuck between my legs. I would chant till the other two ladies complain that they are tired. It was fun. By the time I come back home, I would be dusty all over my clothes. My mother would shout at me. HahahhHahaha


  • Maskitlana is the game where all the storytelling developed. I used to sit in the backyard alone and collected various stones and spoke to them. They all had names, characters and I would always think about the following episode. It was as if I was telling someone a story because the stones would speak to each other. At times my friends would gather around and listen to me. We all knew who told the best stories. There was always someone we always looked forward to hearing what she came up with. It used to be fun because you can never guess what the story would turn out to be. The suspicion kept us coming back the next day.


  • I never got an opportunity to play Morabaraba. Kids from affluent families mainly had the game. Around my home, most of us were not quite well off. So we did not have the game as it was expensive. It is a board game that looks like chess. Rich kids mainly used it to share the cattle and to formulate war strategies. We did not have cattle at our homes, hence we never had it.


  • This game remains my favorite where one person will hide the belt and when he’s done, he’ll call out “soek-soek banana”. Everyone will start looking for a belt. Whoever finds the belt first would hit everyone with it until they go back to the home so that he can go hide it again. It was fun because it taught us to be strategic and vigilant.


  • I used to love playing mgusha. It was easy for me because of my tall thin legs. This is a game mainly played by girls and we would use an old pantihose then cut it and tie it in knots to make one single round long piece. My team always won as I said, I was a mastermind behind every game.


  • This where we play “house”. Where there is a mother, father snd children. I have always been given a role of a mother amongst my peers. I learned to nurture the responsible role of womanhood with this game. I would cook, bathe and do all the house chores as expected from a mother. I inserted a cloth on my chest as if it’s breast and act like I’m breastfeeding my doll. I do not have a child of my own, but I know that I will make a great mother because of the lessons I learned from this game many years ago. The motherly instinct was nurtured well there.


  • My petite body played a huge role as it helped me to do well in all the games. The attacking team tries to kick the ball away from the defenders, while the defenders use their hands to get the ball. The attackers scores when they have moved the ball down the entire length of the field. When all the attackers are out, the defenders get a chance to try and score. One of the characteristics of this game is fitness and activeness. I was not good but my petite body worked for me because of my speed.

Varied indigenous games should be celebrated and revived to embrace the African Revitalization. Toddlers can meet up once in a while at the parks, particulate in various indigenous games together to popularize cultural activities so that they can know their origin before they become consumed by computers and PlayStations. Indigenous games are still fun and educative.

What other indigenous games did you play in your childhood? My international friends, please tell me about indigenous games in your countries. Do the younger ones still play indigenous games?

As always, please do not forget to check out my other posts below.


Leave a Reply