A number of Namibia’s loved children’s games made a surprise come back at one of Windhoek’s popular recreational park two weeks ago. It is one of those games that had our parents fuming at children who had forgotten their house chores, left homework undone and were coming home dirty and very late, all in the name of amagoes, skululu, fill the can or uma-dowa. They were, and are, games better played in groups with the neighbours or children from the block.
And it required leaving the house for a place with ample spaces and, quite often, far from the parents’ preying eyes, dare they end the game too soon.
Yes, for the uninitiated or the young who arrived in the world of computer games and cellphones, these were games children played in the afternoons both in urban and rural areas of Namibia. Windhoek based friends, Xuro Milton and Leornard Witbeen, organised a fun get together event, where people barbequed while playing the games. The group that did well in the games walked away with N$1,500. There were six groups that participated in total.
Amagoes is made up of two teams with an equal number of players. The game is played on a marked surface, with four corners that act as shelter for players, while the other team throws the ball from side to side. Whoever is running outside the shelter areas and gets hit with the ball is out. Mostly played by girls, uma-dowa involves a rope with girls skipping. It starts from the ankle, working all the way up to the neck. The rope is fitted around two players standing opposite each other. A third player jumps in the middle. The two players on each end stand very still while the third player jumps, which is easy for the jumper. The game then gradually progresses, as the rope is lifted higher and higher. A fourth player can also be introduced, which makes it more challenging.
Skululu is a game that can be played by more than two teams, equal in numbers. A field is drawn on the ground and a ball is used. The starting team lines up and attempts to kick the ball as far as possible and the opposition team tries to catch that ball. If the ball enters any of the neighbour’s yards, that player has ended his or her round. It’s almost like cricket, only the players kick the ball.