Indigenous games are recreational activities that originated from a particular cultural group, community or people. These games are different from your mainstream sports, which are regulated by international federations, and have fixed rules. Conversely, indigenous games do not have internationally regulated rules for implementation; local organisers determine these according to the customs of the local participants. This creates many different versions of the same game.
Indigenous games are a very important part of a people’s heritage and culture. They preserve age- old traditions and stories of the people group. Indigenous games have an origin, which is the story behind the invention of the particular activity or game. When participating in indigenous games, one can begin to understand the social construct of a particular culture and history of the people who invented and continue to invent and participate in indigenous games.
An interesting theory about indigenous games is that European indigenous games have all been made international sport codes and have been globalised through Europe’s dominion of the world. These sports include soccer, rugby, cricket and the Olympics. However, countries such as the USA whose indigenous games include baseball and American football have modified traditional European sports to create their own indigenous games which, despite America’s global power, have failed to impact the rest of the world and have remained for the most part, American indigenous sports.
Interestingly, all the other continents have many indigenous games played by their indigenous population groups. Some of these games have been adopted as team building activities, exercise routines, music and dance, cultural education and teaching, as well as business opportunities through tourism and gambling. South Africa has quite a few indigenous games across all the people of this beautifully diverse country nicknamed “the rainbow nation”, examples of these games include: diketo, mrabaraba, umgusha, di tini, ebanti and many more. The most popular indigenous game is umgusha, which is played using pantyhose as well as di tini, which is played using tins and a ball.
One needs to participate regularly in indigenous games to stay in touch with one’s own culture and heritage as well as get to know other cultures in this very diverse earth jungle. Indigenous games are always fun with friendly competition mixed in. They serve many purposes such as bringing people together of the same and of different groups alike. The study and practice of indigenous games is a part of the sport management course at eta College. When was the last time you participated in a well-organised indigenous game? What game was it? Can you remember the history, rules and required resources of the game? If not, then shame on you. Lol.
Want to learn more about our courses, click here.
Written by: Luzuko Ndiko