Kameshi Ne Mpuku:

An African Game

Author: Angie Bird

Grade Level: Early Elementary

Objective: Students will demonstrate an understanding that games reflect the environment of those who play them by creating their own games with the resources provided.

Materials Needed: (Optional) Materials such as rags, string, or old boxes that the students can use in creating their own games. The activities in this lesson will work best outdoors.

Background Information: Africa is a huge continent, and many different groups of people live there. The games African children play vary from country to country but there are similarities. Much of Africa is hot and dry and this has resulted in the creation of a wide variety of games to be played outdoors. Traditionally, African children spent a lot of time in groups so fewer adults could tend them more easily. This led to games that allow a large number of participants and usually physical activity.

Characteristic of games, particularly in rural areas, is that they require little, if any, equipment. Frequently the necessary equipment can be found in nature--stones, sticks, leaves, or feathers. Many of the games also teach skills valued by the culture such as good judgement, decision-making, and quickness and agility.

Procedures: Ask several students to name their favorite game. Let the children explain how the game is played and why it is their favorite. Ask if the students think children in other countries play games similar to the ones they play. Tell the students they are going to play a game that came from Africa and as they play they should look for ways is it similar to or different from games they have played before. (This game should be played outdoors or in a room with plenty of open space.)

Kameshi Ne Mpuku (The Cat and the Rat)

Variations of this game were played throughout much of Africa; this form originated with the Luba people in the Congo. Link to Congo Page.

Following the game, let the students discuss the similarities (variation of tag, running, use of strategy) and differences (language, names of animals used) they noticed. Explain that when people create games, they are limited by their environment. People in Utah don't go surfing, and people in Florida don't have snowball fights. When creating a game, we have to consider what resources are available to us.

Tell the students they are going to create their own game and that they may use only the materials provided and objects (stones, sticks, leaves) they can find around them.

Divide the students into small groups and place any materials in an easily accessible location. Let the children create their own game using the materials provided, materials they can find, or a game that doesn't require any materials. Be aware of safety concerns that apply to the playing area and materials used; the types of activities and uses of the materials should be appropriate to the amount of space available and certain areas may need to be off limits. Remind students that it's okay if their game is similar to one that they've played before, but that it shouldn't be exactly the same. After students have had time to create their game, let the groups share their ideas with the rest of the class.

Evaluation: Assess the games that the students have created. Did they use the available materials to create a unique game?  

Source: Hopson, Darlene, Derek Hopson, and Thomas Clavin. Juba This & Juba That. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1996.

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