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By Atlanta Mahanta

Indigenous games and sports, along with regional languages, music, literature, and architecture, should also be recognized as vital components of today’s worldwide mainstream culture. Their reconstitution is an indication of the “survival of the individual” and an opportunity to appreciate variety despite globalization. The traditional sports and exercises in the rural pre-industrial societies of the 19th century often appear as having their origin. Folklorists from the previous century were fond of the rural environment and made records. Traditional sports revival can help to save cultures and identities. 

Traditional games assist young people to link their roots and identities with one another. Traditional games have unfortunately been missed or overshadowed throughout the world by online gaming. The practice of traditional sports not only helps with physical but also with mental health. It gives you confidence and the power of acceptance. In order to win a competition, it is a hard, long process of keeping the passion alive. It represents one’s origin and culture. Culture is a term that is defined by many in different ways. Traditional sports are a part of one’s culture and identity, and they can become a way of life.  

  • For example, the word “Matrag” is a term in the Algerian dialect from the classical Arabic “mitraq”, which means “hammer” and which in French gave it the sound “matraque”. The Matrag defines both the Algerian martial art and the weapon used to practice it, which art is also often referred to as the “Algerian Cane”. 
  • The origin of laamb is said to come from the countryside in Senegal where at the end of the harvest season men from the village would wrestle. It was a way to not only blow off some steam, but to also show off their strength and be declared the champion.
  • Nzango is a simple game for girls, which initially had been played during school breaks. It has gradually been gaining the reputation of sport recently. Codified with precise rules, it is played on a pitch measuring 8 meters by 16 meters, marked with a red central stripe and two blue ones on the sides. It’s played by two teams of 17 – eleven players and six reserves.
Traditional Sports NameCountries of Africa 
Abaogo Ivory Coast
El MatragAlgeria
Abula Nigeria
CrocheLa Réunion
Engolo or Ngolo Angola
Akseltag Marocco
DambeNigeria, Niger, Chad
Evala Togo
DibekeSouth Africa
Fantasia Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Mali, Niger, Mauritania
Ayo Nigeria
Gabetula Angola
Draft Ghana
Béri Senegal
Drie StokkeSouth Africa
Gidigbo Nigeria
Boers Wrestling StylesSouth Africa
Dula MeketaEtiopia
Gle Gbee Liberia
BorehThe Gambia
Grech Tunisia
Borey or BorehGambia
Gusimbuka UrukiramendeRwanda
Gutera Uruziga Rwanda
Kokuule Benin
Moraingy Madagascar
Horo Burundi
Koora Algieria
MusangweSouth Africa
IntongaSouth Africa
Kurasa IntegoRwanda
Isinaphakade SamathongoSouth Africa
Kuta or Hikuta NguniSouth Africa
Laamb Senegal
LassoIvory Coast
Nubian stickSudan
Jukskei South Africa
Nxai (aka Rwabi)Botswana
KipuraDemocratic Republic of the Congo
Maratabin or MaratabeenMorocco
Oggaf Tunisia
Kokowa or KokawaNiger
Mkazo Ncha ShikanaSenegal
Olva Senegal
Mkazo Ncha ShikanaSenegal
Suri Stickfighting Ethiopia
Ta kurt om el mahagLibya
RingballSouth Africa
Uba wrestlingSudan
Tahtib or TahteebEgypt
Xhosa South Africa
Testa or RiesyEritrea

El Matrag (Algeria)

Croche (La Réunion)

Akseltag (Morocco)

Evala (Togo)

Fantasia (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Mali, Niger, Mauritania)

Genna (Ethiopia)

Moraingy (Madagascar)

Nguni (South Africa)

Nuba (Sudan)

Líbanda (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Nzango (Congo)

Maabza (Algeria)

Kokowa or Kokawa (Niger)

Savika (Madagascar)

Source: TOA magazine

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