Before the introduction of mobile phone and computer games, before the introduction of social media, life was still fun growing up in the Ghanaian society. Arguably even more fun than present times where kids sit behind phones all alone. Kids used to gather outside, play together and went home late, happy, tired and dirty to take their bath, eat and sleep not stuck in a room behind screens.
Here’s a look back at some of these games and memories which I think you might find relatable;
1. Pilolo; A searching game slightly similar to present day hide and seek. Usually played with sticks or any set of hideable objects. There’s the leader who hides the objects and the participants are not allowed to look. Once the object is hidden, the leader shouts “pilolo” and the participants start start searching. A touch point is indicated. Once a participant finds the object, they take it to the touch point and they get marks. Amongst my friends, sometimes the last person to find has to dodge his way to the touch point as we tried to beat him.
2. Chaskele; Ghana’s very own cricket. You needed an empty crushed/flattened tin, a tyre or bucket and a stick which served as a bat. The hole in the tyre/bucket served as a goal post. One of the players attempted throwing the tin into the bucket or tyre hole while the other player with the stick would hit it preventing the tin from falling into the hole. If the tin managed to fall into the bucket/tyre hole, then it’s a goal. Trust me, If only chaskele was an international game, I’d be the Messi of chaskele.
3. Tuumatu/Peele; If u ever saw the squid game movie then you’d be reminded of this game. Ghana’s version of hopscotch. Rectangular patterns were made on the ground and usually sand was gathered in a polythene bag and tied to be used as lagger. The players threw the lagger into the rectangles to set up the hop pattern. You had avoid touching the lines while hopping. The point of the game was to make your opponent fail by winning spots and making hopping difficult for them. Never really played this game but I enjoyed watching girls play, especially those in skirts. Please hold up your thoughts. I was just a kid, I’m not a perv.
4. Pampanaa/police and thief; No better way to exhibit the moves we learnt from action movies than in this native shooting game. Each player got an object which would serve as their gun. The players hide until one shouts “pampanaa” after which they sneakingly start searching for their opponents to shoot them. Once you find an opponent, you point your gun at the them and made a sound of a gunshot with your mouth. Amongst opponents, the first person to make the sound is considered the winner. It’s not always that smooth though, sometimes an “I shot you first” argument broke in, and only God could end it.
5. Ampe; This was a game played mostly by girls. It was played by hopping, clapping and thrusting a foot forward. The opponents played by facing each other. The winner is determined by the foot they thrust forward as they hop. The opponents choose sides before the game begins, one side being the winner if the foot thrusted forward by either opponents are the same while the other wins if the feet are the different. It comes in many variations of rules and it’s sometimes accompanied by a song. Never really played this one either but like I said, I enjoyed watching girls hop.
6. Kpitinge This game was played with an empty pen case, filled with sand and a pointy broom at the tip. A heap of sand was mounted and the aim was that all the players got the pointy tip into the sand so the pen could stand. The game gets more difficult as it continues as with each round, the pen is thrown from a more complicated position. Sometimes this game is not for cry babies because failure to finish the task could earn you some beatings. I still remember some slaps at the back of my hand a friend gave to me in school.
7. The clapping and singing games; Does the tune, “My grandmother on my waist” sound familiar to you? What about “2, 4, 6, 1, 1 kari, kari”, or “change your style”. Well these games had things in common, participants arrange themselves in a circle with one hand in palm up above the palm of one person on their side and the other hand palm up beneath the other person to their side’s palm. The game’s song is sang to a specific rhythm as participants clap their hand on the palm in their other hand. This clap is passed around the circle until the song ends. The games typically follow rules highlighted in the song. I enjoyed them because it was a chance to bond with the girls and It helped skip beatings from my mom for dirtying myself.
8. Counters ball; Well, before FIFA and PES, we still played football games that allowed us to control the footballers. This was played with the crown caps of bottled drinks like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Guinness. Papers could be folded into posts or sometimes other objects were used. Turkish berries(cantose/kwahu nsusua) or a compressed rounded little piece of paper was used as the ball. It was played by pushing or hitting the crown-caps(counters) to hit the ball. Most interesting of all, players could name the counters after their real-life football icons and teams. My counters ball team didn’t lose a single match until I retired as their manager when I turned 15.
9. The wicked games of zanzama, chemp3, kalo, Banku and kyin Dan ho; These were a series of games for only the smart and strong hearted. With each of these games, the alertness and swiftness of the players were tested because failure to adhere to the rules of the games could earn you a knock or a hit you’ll never forget.
10. Mama ne Dada; This was a role-playing game where kids acted as a family. A father and a mother are selected from amongst themselves while others played the children. Kids usually emulated what their parents will do at home. Most of these games have died down over the tears but there’s a reason “Mama ne Dada” is still popular in this era. And there’s a reason why I loved playing this game the most but I won’t tell you.
There are more games but I can’t remember it all. You could share your own experience with us in the comment section.