No.80 How a Cameroonian Farmer lives Part III: Games
By Gaston Bityo Delor | Ultimas Noticias No. 80 April - May 2017

This is the third and last part of a series of articles by our Cameroon partner, Gaston Bityo Delor, to give you some understanding of the lives of the people we support in Cameroon. The first two articles were about how a Cameroon farmer works, and how he gets water.

I apologize for the lateness of this newsletter.

 

How a Cameroonian Farmer lives. Part III:  Games

 By Gaston Bityo Delor

 

Cameroon is a bilingual country where the 2 languages English and French are spoken as the result of Colonialism. The country is divided into 10 Regions. The 2 Regions (North West and South West) speak English and the other 7 Regions (Far North, North, Adamaoua, Centre, Littoral, East and South) speak French.

Beside English and French, there are also more than 300 dialects spoken in Cameroon as mother tongues.

 

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Map of Cameroon. The two Northern regions are not rainforest regions and are too dry for the Inga project

 

I am going to tell you about the games in my own Region (South Region) where Bulu is spoken. The other Regions have their own games too.

In the South Region we have many different games: Songo; Njek; Emvala, Yoo Nkol; Medutane, Ntolongo, Besobosobo, Zakizak, Ndendenkolo; Mesin, etc….., but we will not be talking about all those games. We are going to talk about the 4 main games that are: Songo; Njek, Yoo Nkol; Medutane.

-       Songo and Njek are for men.

-       Medutane is for women

-       Yoo Nkol is for Children

Songo:

To play Songo you dig 14 holes on the ground divided into 2 rows of 7 holes each. Then you put 5 pawns (pieces) in each hole. That makes 70 pawns or 35 pawns in each side. Then you chose 2 teams of 5 people each. But only 2 people can play at the same time. One player in each side. The rest of the team will support their player.

The game consists of taking the pawns in your hands and distribute them into the holes from right to left. If your last pawn fall into a hole that contains 1, 2 or 3 pawns then you take them in your hands. If your last pawn fall into a hole that contains 4 or more pawns; please don’t take the pawns in your hands. You stop the game when there are only 9 pawns left into the holes.

So the winner is the one who has as much pawns as possible in his hands so that he can fill in all the holes in his side with 5 pawns each and also fill the rest of the holes in his opponent side. In one word the winner is the one who has 40 or more than 40 pawns in his hands.

The useful of this game is to help people to think deeply when they are in difficult situations and find solutions for themselves without the help of anybody

 

 

Njek:

This game consists of dividing people into 2 teams. The teams don’t have a limited number of players. Then the 2 teams stay in line. One line in each side. The players of one line have sharp sticks facing the other team and the first player of the other line has a fruit of the tree we call ‘’njek’’ (pronounce as June) in his hand as a ball. So, he throws the fruit on the ground as a ball making it to roll on the ground. And the players of the other side with their sharp stick try to catch the rolling fruit with their sticks by throwing the sticks in the direction of the rolling fruit. And then it is a reverse situation. The winner of the game is the team that has succeed to catch the rolling fruit many times.

This game is not only a game but also a training. People want to train themselves in hunting. So that they can be able to throw an arrow to an animal running in the bush. But these days they are no more practicing this game.

 

Medutane:

This game consists of selecting 2 teams of strong women. The number of women in each team is not limited. So, the women stay in line as in playing njek. One team facing the other. So, the women in front (of the line) hold hands and the rest of the women hold each other’s hip. Now both side have to pull each other strongly until you draw one woman in your side. And so on until you draw all the women in one side or in the other.

This game is to prepare the women for an eventual attack from another village. 

 

Yoo-Nkol:

The children go to the bush and cut a long rope. Then 2 children hold the rope and start turning it and one child start jumping reciting the 12 month of the years. Each time he/she jumps he/she tell a month while the other are turning the rope. 2 or 3 children can jump at the same time. This game is to help the children to learn the 12 months of the year.

 

As you can see, each game has a lesson to learn that is the objective of the games in our Region. Not only it is a game (pastime) but also it is a lesson to learn or something useful to learn.

 

 

 

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