Top 10 Kenyan Children Games

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Disclaimer: The following article is strictly for those that grew up before the internet and the dawn of computer games. It’s for those that are lucky enough to have seen two millenniums. This article is for the chosen few that drunk Maziwa ya Nyayo, know what it means to have only one TV and radio station and whose baby pictures were not taken by a digital camera or a phone. This compilation is for their memories; however, if you don’t qualify for whatever boring reasons, you may still read for historical purposes.

The following games made us who we are in many different ways as you will soon find out. They got us in trouble but brought us everlasting happiness and memories.

1. Kalongolongo aka Kalongo

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Sub types: Cha Baba na Cha Mama aka Cha Baba.

This was one of the few games that was openly and freely played by both boys and girls (besides Sunday school games, of course) because it was a re enaction of the family set up where in those days mostly included a mother, a father, children and sometimes extended family if the  players were too many.

The most fun parts were always the cooking part then eating ugali matope with  sukuma bougainvillea. After that, depending on how advanced the big kids were about worldly things, it would become night time and the kids would go to sleep in a common bedroom as  went to share a bedroom *hides*. Sometimes people got busted by adults…*insert a trouble sound effect*

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2. Bladder

This was a game where black rubber bands slit from bicycle tubes was held for girls to jump. Level of the game went up literally by raising the band sometimes to shoulder level.  It was never a boys game but we loved it because girls would raise their skirts and dresses while jumping, especially those on higher levels of the game

3. Chobo Uwa/ Chobo Mangoto

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This was the ultimate boys’ game that not even tom boys dared try.  It was a football challenge where everyone played with just one goal of passing the ball through someone else’s legs. Whoever had the ball go through his legs had to do something crazy like hugging a girl (trust me, it was never easy for a teenage boy back in the day), a woman or breaking any other available rules like climbing a forbidden wall. He also had to do it as fast as possible because everyone stopped playing to beat you up thoroughly, and there was never sorry.

rounders

4.       Rounders

This was another girl’s favorite but a few boys played it as well. It involved five circles, four at every corner of a square and one in the middle. It was played by one team trying to make as many runs as possible around the square while dodging a ball thrown across the field by the opposing team.  One player was allowed to try catching the ball and throwing it as far as possible so her team mates could make as many runs as possible as the other team fetched the same ball. (Kinda like cricket)

5.       Bano

If you never played Bano, you had no childhood. I think it was some messed up form of golf because it involved a hole and balls, or rather marbles called Banta aka Bano. It could be played in singles or in teams of doubles or triples. A hole would be dug and according to the ground rules which varied from hood to hood, one was supposed to eliminate the opposition by hitting their marbles then taking the finishing aim into the hole. The glass marbles often broke from being hit back and forth and considering how hard it was to get the 50 cents to replace a broken one; rules were devised to protect vulnerable players.

“Cracking no Paying”

There was Crackings no paying, meaning that if your marble got broken, then you din’t get paid, otherwise, the other player had to replace it. This led to some crooked kids starting to use some steel bearings which were practically unbreakable but could break the glass marbles. A sub type of the game was eventually devised called, No Steelie meaning that the use of steel marbles* was not allowed.

6.       Hide n Seek

Everyone played this, from cool grandparents to intelligent pets. It had many variations but it was mainly about everyone hiding except one called The Killer. To make it more interesting, there was Tapo where those hiding would have to tap on an object before The Killer. If he tapped before you, then you died, burnt and had to be the new killer or stop playing.

7.       Kati

This was another favorite for both boys and girls but only because boys got to see girls jump around and expose little snippets of their panties. It was simple; two players throw a ball back and forth as one player who is considered to have most fun, tries to keep having fun by dodging the ball. To eliminate her, she had to be hit with the ball. The ball was always a soft, mostly made of socks but later, a hard ball was made to spice up the game up.

8.       Singing games

These were games that involved singing, dancing and chanting. They also involved clapping and choreography which made them hard for most boys. They included By Show, Sabina, Kamares, Mama Milka etc

9.       Doof-Mpararo

Anyone UP for a swim
Anyone UP for a swim

Somebody say puuuuuuuuuulllloooooooooh!

I don’t even know where to start with this. Maybe it is a definition for hard life or innovation but I leave that to you.

Most boys never used to bathe, but that don’t mean we hated water. This used be a favorite pastime especially during rainy seasons when we would swim in any water body that was not in a bathroom. Boys would go swimming in ponds, open manholes, quarries and construction sites. The results always varied from malaria to pneumonia but the immediate and which makes the experience memorable was kuparara. Your skin becomes dry and pale white because of swimming in muddy water with urine, frogs and all kinds of filth. Once at home, everybody got a beating like a tribal drum.

10.   Slydo

This was another genius idea that landed everyone involved in trouble. Kids would find some steeps that had slanting angles like a slide. The only problem was that the ground was never smooth making the sliding rough and painful. So they would pour water to create mud then slide down the whole day. Sometime there was no water so they urinated in turns to keep the ground wet. The result was always a sore behind and dirty bodies with torn derriers. Just like in Doofo Mpararo, people cried back at home when those sour asses got whooped by all manner of things from slippers to belts.