110 Restenneth Drive, Forfar, dd8 2dd report of the 2014-15 Survey

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110 Restenneth Drive, Forfar, DD8 2DD

Report of the 2014-15 Survey

Keeping African Heritage Alive in Scotland

Table of Contents



Data Collection

Presentation of Findings

Section A: memories of ancestral country

Section B: Myths, famous warriors, kings and legends

Section C: Bedtime stories and popular lullabies

Section D: Games and Entertainment

Section E: Traditional Food


The purpose of this project was to collect and record the oral histories of African migrants living in Tayside and surrounding areas with the hope of preserving some of the heritage that is likely to be lost. Among other things, the project sought to record some of the popular African bedtime stories about ancient warriors, kings and legends. The project also asked participants how their tribesmen celebrated key events like weddings, funerals, festivals etc. This also allowed participants to describe in detail what their traditional food is, how the food is prepared and equipment used, and methods for food storage. The researchers also captured narratives of some of the popular lullabies used for soothing young people, games, proverbs, folklores and tongue twisters.

There were 12 sections of the interview guide, where detailed accounts were sought for clarification and demonstration. The major components of the project are noted below:

Background information; Memories of ancestral country and community; Stories about famous warriors, kings and legends; Favorite bedtime stories; Popular lullabies; Games and entertainment; Proverbs and tongue twisters; Traditional holiday / festival celebration; traditional food, storage and preparation

The level to which these were completed varied considerably among respondents, thus in general, quantifying the responses was clearly irrational. Alternatively a synthesis is provided, occasionally with author’s own knowledge of the subject and supported by online research. In summary, one of the major sentiments shared by all participants was the general feeling that their young ones are at a disadvantage because they seem be losing their identity. This is compounded by the fact that there are no African studies in the Scottish schools’ curriculum.

Sample Description and Data Collection

Scotland, like the rest of the UK, has seen a significant increase of the number of migrants coming from African countries. According to the 2011 census, it is estimated that out of 5,327,700 people living in Scotland, 7.2% were non-UK born. Crude estimates indicate that there are around 2,500 African migrant living in Scotland. The exact number of African migrants living in Tayside and Angus is not known, but for purposes of this project we used convenient sampling using the links between the researchers and known African communities living in Dundee. We sampled as many African migrants as we could to improve generalisability but, primarily due to cost, we settled for 13 participants. The researchers were satisfied that this was a true representation of the African migrants living in Dundee and Angus.

Semi-structured interviews were recorded in English and duration of the interviews was between 20 – 60 minutes. All interviews were conducted face to face by 3 Research Assistants, who happens to be natives from Africa and have been living in Scotland for over seven years. Their cultural identity and ‘that lived in experience’ helped guide the interviews and enabled more open discussion. Full interview guide is appended at the end of this report.

Interviews were conducted with 2 male and 9 female participants who are originally from Nigeria (5), Kenya (1), Malawi (1), Sierra Leone (1), Cameroon (2) and Zimbabwe (3). Participants, whose age ranged from 18 to 60 years were all born in their native African countries and had loved in Scotland for over five years. All participants were either in full time employment (11) or studying (2) and planned to permanently settle in the UK.

Summary of Findings

The project findings are organised and presented in line with the layout of The interview guide; therefore, readers may find it useful to refer to Appendix?? in conjunction with these findings. Each section commences with the description of the general comments. This is followed by country specific or nationality comparison where appropriate. The results are followed by a brief discussion of practical points in each section.

Section A: Memories of ancestral country and community

This section allowed the participants to give an account of their country of origin, where possible telling stories of any mythical figures that can be identified as the founder of their society. A highly diverse range of stories were told spanning from prehistorical mythical figures to post-colonial heroes. One of the observations is that most of these stories were not recorded as historical events; rather they have orally been passed on from one generation to the other. Nine participants responded to this question and due to lack of any historical evidence or archaeological proof, the accuracy of the stories of origin presented below is left to the readers’ imagination.


Zimbabwe was colonised by the British, but before that time there used to be very powerful chiefs like Lo Bengula and Mzili Kazi The name Zimbabwe came from the Great Zimbabwe, locally known as dzimba dzembabwe, which is a Shona term for ‘house of stone’. This is because the Great Zimbabwe was built like a castle constructed out of stones only, and that is where king Mzili Kazi used stay. The ruins of the Great Zimbabwe still attraction tourists.

There were the three main chiefs or warriors who fought the white people in Zimbabwe. Lo Bengula was the best in Matabeleland, Tchaka Zulu was the best in Chipinge and Mzili Kazi was the best in in Mwenemutapo area.

Zimbabwe (Shona land)

Participant XXxxXX (Beatrice_Zim) was born in Rusape. In shona language, Rusape or Rusapwe means ‘may not dry’ and refers to the river which runs near the town. The settlement began around 1890 when the colonialists first moved into the region. In Rusape there used to be a person called Makoni. He acted as chief and was the overseer of all disputes that would occur in the village. He was killed by the British, and rumour has it that Makoni’s head was buried in England.

Nigeria (Unugu State)

Participant xXx (Akuse) was born in Enugu state, which is a kingdom in the south east of Nigeria. The name Enugu means ‘on top of the hill’ and it is known as the oldest urban area in Igbo land. The town was known for its resistance to slave trade and coal production. Participant’s XX ancestors were the rulers of Egini during the period known as ‘Egucitenauste’. When Egini’s son got dislodged, my people moved and settled in another kingdom called ‘Onuche’. My people ruled” Onuche” for some time until the European took over in around 1901. Although the Onuche leader does not have any political control these days, his descendants such as Obia of Onitcha still has some spiritual control

Nigeria (Igboland)

Participant (Choma) was born in Igboland, southeast of Nigeria. The Igbos are the second largest group of people living in Nigeria. There are conflicting stories about the history of the Igbos. Unlike other ethnic groups like the Yorubas, the history of the Igbos is very speculative – there is no one single story. The story of the origins that participant xXXx shared relates to Nri, believed to have been sent from heaven to create the kingdom of Igboland around 15th century. He was sent by his mythical father Chukwu Abiama, the Igbo supreme god who reigns in heaven. One feature that is common among the Igbo communities is the Osu caste System, literally meaning there are two classes of people – the masters and the slaves. Some people are meant to be inferior to others.

Nigeria (Kogi State)

Participant XXXXx (Victor) was born in a little village called Ejule, Kogi state. xXXx comes from Tiv tribe, thought to be a tribe that migrated from southern Africa. They came in search of farmland and settled in Benue State near Benue River. The Tiv are one of the largest ethnic groups in Nigeria and their spoken language has many similarities with Bantu languages of Central and Southern Africa. The Tiv people had no kings to rule over them; instead they lived in compounds headed by the oldest man. Each household was independent and their main occupation was farming. Legend has it that during the time the Tiv were migrating from the south and when they reached the banks of Benue River a mysterious snake came from nowhere and stretched across the river to help the migrants cross.

Nigeria (Yorubaland)

Participant xxXXXxx (Uluwei) is from Yoruba land, south-west Nigeria. Specifically she comes from Oyo state, from a town called Ibadan, which said to be the largest city in West Africa. Early inhabitants of Ibadan were thought to be warriors who came to the region in search of a place to settle. The name Ibadan means location, and the city is located between a big forest and other smaller towns. In Yoruba language, IBA means savannah forest, while Odan means a forest settlement for warriors. Ibadan lies in between the big forest, and some warriors created smaller towns like Ogbomoso, Oyo and Ilesha. There were ongoing battles among these settlements. Other warriors came from places like Ijebu and Eba. Lagelu is known to be the man who united the warring factions. He is the one who took the warriors and settled in Ibadan, and that is how the city started to grow. The city started as a warrior settlement meant to protect smaller towns of Ubumosho, Oyo and Ilesha.

Malawi (Ngoni)

Participant XXxxXX comes from Ntcheu, a district in the central region of Malawi. Her ancestors were the Ngunis who emigrated from Natal in South Africa. The Ngunis left Natal mainly because they were not happy with leadership of their new king, Tchaka Zulu. Tchaka was known as a fierce warrior, cruel and used to torment other smaller clans. After the Ngunis left South Africa, they travelled up north, crossing the river Zambezi. It was after crossing the Zambezi that the Ngunis changed their name and became Ngonis. Thereafter two divisions emerged, one group headed by Jere moved further up north and settled in northern Malawi in a place called mzimba, while the other group headed by Maseko opted to remain behind. Later, these groups continued to disband and moved in different directions. Participant XXxxxXX comes from the Maseko group and her ancestors finally settled in a place called Lizwe la Zulu, in short Lizulu. Later the place was to be known as Ntcheu.

Cameroon (Douala)

It is said that the name Cameroon originated from a river called Rio dos Cameroes, which means river of prawns. It was one of the early Portuguese navigators who coined that name. Although the first Europeans to arrive in the region were the Portuguese, the country was mainly colonised by the Germans. Douala chiefs and the Germans signed a treaty banning slave trade in 1840, and by 1880 a German protectorate was signed. The country’s first president was Ahmadou Ahidjo, and he was later succeeded by Paul Biya who has ruled the country from 1982 up to this day. Although the common languages are French and English, most of the tribes have their own language which is unique from each other. There are around 250 tribes in Cameroon.

Sierra Leone (Freetown)

The history of Sierra Leone dates back to 1400s when one of the Portuguese explorers saw the beautiful mountains of the region and decided to call them ‘Serra Lyoa’, meaning ‘Lion Mountain’. The majority of the people speak Mende, or Krio, but the official language is English.

The country’s capital city is called Freetown. It got that name because, years back when slave trade was abolished, some of the freed slaves could not return to their native country, instead they were resettled in parts of Liberia and Sierra Leone. Most of them got relocated to a place the called Freetown, meaning ‘free town for free people’.

Sierra Leon is one country that lacks uniqueness; a lot of things have changes mostly because of intermarriages. People have lost their distinct culture and values and are seen as different from what they used to be like before slave trade. Now a day a lot of people can only associate with urban life style because of the 10 year civil war that left many people traumatised. Most of the old people were killed in the wars, others were displaced. There is a huge generation gap that could have been used to pass on the ancestral history to the young ones. People are no longer within their regions, and that has brought in a lot of changes. For example there are a lot of things that mothers and daughters could have shared, such as cultural relationship but that does not happen anymore. It is all because of mass mobility.

Section B:Myths,famous warriors, kings and legends

A popular myth coming from Zimbabwe relates to the Nyaminyami legend, a river spirit that rules the waters of the mighty Zambezi River. The serpent-like spirit, with a human face was worshipped by the Tonga people living around Kariba gorge. Certain natural events, like floods and earthquakes are associated with Nyaminyami shifting on the bottom of the Kariba dam. The spirit lives peacefully with the locals who used to offer sacrifices to him. It is said that during periods of famine and drought, Nyaminyami could save the people from dying of hunger by occasionally merging onto the surface of the water where the locals would cut pieces of meat from its body. The meat would be enough to feed the whole village for several days. Some people believe that the Nyaminyami still lives up to this day. The Nyaminyami story also closely relates to the legend of Bamutse, a snake-like creature that could stretch itself across Benue river to help the early Tiv people safely cross the river when they were establishing their new settlement in Benue state.

Apart from presenting these mythical characters, the respondents also gave an account of some real life pre-colonial figures that are considered as the founders of their modern societies. For example, in Zimbabwe they had Mzilikazi, and later chief Lobengula who ruled Matebele kingdom in the late 1800s.There were some fierce battles with other factions that opposed Lobengula’s chieftaincy, because he was born of a Swazi woman. Lobengula crushed his enemies and moved on to establish his new royal palace at a place that is now known as Bulawayo, an area rich in natural resources. Lobengula lived well with the missionaries, but the Europeans tricked him into signing over his kingdom to the authority of Cecil John Rhodes. It was the signing of this agreement that was later to become the downfall of the Matebele kingdom. As might be expected, the Ngonis of Ntcheu in Malawi also had their own chief, Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani, the son of Chief Chikuse. Gomani succeeded his father in 1891 and his rule coincided with the period when the Portuguese missionaries were gaining influence in Nyasaland, an area considered to be British protectorate. Gomani was caught between the squabbles of the Portuguese and the British who were all trying to impose themselves and seize control of the central region. Gomani was shot dead by the British forces at a place near Dombole, and the atrocious treatment of his captive marred the relationship between the Ngonis of Ntcheu and the administration of the British protectorate.

West Africa also had similar key figures. One responded from Cameroon gave an account of the Duala kings, Ndumbe Lobe Bell and his grandson Rudolf Duala Manga Bell. These were the chiefs who ruled Duala kingdom during the period when the Germany were trying to establish their colony. Although king Ndumbe was described as a man of natural dignity and decency, the area he ruled was notoriously famous for its slave trade. When the abolition of slavery was signed in 1833, the British worked with Ndumbe Lobe Bell to end the trade in the area. King Ndumbe later developed a rather thorny relationship with the Germans, which even led to the exile of his son. The Germans sent Ndumbe’s son, Manga, to exile because of what they considered as ‘bad influence’ in Doula. King Ndumbe was a successful commercial trader and when he died in 1897 he is said to have left over 90 wives. Manga took over the reign of his father, at a time when the Germans had taken full control of southern Cameroon. Manga was English educated and made an official complaint over how the colonial masters were fiddling with the everyday administration of the affairs of the Duala people. Manga built the palace that still stands in the centre of Douala, known as the ‘Pagoda’. Among the Yorubas of Nigeria they recognise Lagelu as the founder of modern Ibadan. A great warrior, Lagelu managed to unite the dissident soldiers from Oyo, Ife and Ijebu to create one settlement called Ibadan. In Sierra Leone the people still celebrate the triumphs of Bai Bure, a great warrior who fought against British rule in the late 1800s. He was nicknamed Kebalai, meaning ‘one-who-doesn’t-tire-of-war, Bai Bure fought against other tribal leaders to establish his own version of Islamic rule. Bai Bure refused to recognise the hut tax that the British had imposed on the Sierra Leonean people. He relentlessly fought against the British, causing a lot of damage and his legacy as the one who managed to stop the British advancement still lives to this day.

Bedtime stories and popular lullabies

One of the primary aims of this project was to capture that bedtime stories and popular lullabies that the participants were able to recall. The audio recordings of this part of the exercise were edited and saved as a single electronic file that can easily be accessed for the future. Interestingly most narratives have a striking similarity in the sense that there is always a protagonist and antagonist. For example, the hare and tortoise are portrayed as wise and cunning creatures, while the hyena is presented as a dull, unintelligent animal. It should be mentioned that most of these stories were not told simply for entertainment, but were also an important way of educating the young people. Behind each story there is a moral teaching that is meant to educate and give life skills to the children. Presented here are some of the extracts from the tales that the respondents were able to recall.

From Nigeria (Yoruba land): How tortoise got his cracked shell

Long time ago there was drought in the animal kingdom. The skies were dry and for several years the rains did not come. Many animals were dying because there was no food. The tortoise was a cunning animal and decided not to go down without a fight. He was determined to find food for himself and he had noticed that the birds in the animal kingdom were looking healthier than the rest of other animal. He made a quest to find out why the birds were looking well fed. One day he went to the birds to learn their secret. At first the birds were reluctant to let tortoise know their secret, but as cunning as he was, tortoise managed to convince the birds to part with their secret. Tortoise even assured the birds that he would help them multiply their source of food. Reluctantly the birds said that they get their food from a palace in the skies. Only animals with feathers were allowed to visit the palace. The tortoise being a well-known orator assured the birds that he will speak on behalf of the birds and convince the king at the palace in the skies to increase the amount of food that was given to the birds. All the birds agreed thinking that this would save them time of flying to the skies every time they were hungry. They all agreed to go to the palace with the tortoise. However, there was one problem; tortoise did not have the wings to help him fly to the palace. Each bird agreed to contribute a feather and glued it to the tortoise. The plan worked and tortoise took to the skies leading a delegation of birds.

When they arrived at the palace, tortoise introduced himself to the king and his stewards that his name was ‘All of you’. When the delegation was served with food, tortoise would deliberately ask the stewards who the food was for. The reply was, ‘this food is for all-of-you’. With that response, the tortoise could turn to the birds and tell them ‘you see they have served me first, so this is all mine, your turn will come next’. This continued for some time, and while the tortoise helped himself to huge portions of succulent meal, the poor birds could only watch and wait for their food to come. Later the king announced that the feast was over and the delegation could now return back to earth. The tortoise was so full such that he did not even bother to deliver the speech he once promised he would when they meet the king. This did not go down well with the birds, and to express their anger they all demanded their feathers back. Knowing that it was not possible to get back to earth without wings, the tortoise made one last plea. He apologetically asked some of the birds to fly down to earth and ask the tortoise wife to lay out soft material on the ground so that tortoise can land there when he jumps from the sky. The birds flew to tortoise’s house, but they had a different plan. The birds thought they’d give tortoise a lesson, they told tortoise wife that her husband was about to bring a lot of food from the skies and she should tell everyone to bring outside the knives, mortals, cooking stones and metal plates in readiness for the feast for the whole village. Proud of her husband’s achievement, tortoise’s wife wasted no time to mobilise the entire village. A lot of sharp and hard cooking utensils were assembled in the village’s open area and the whole village sat there waiting for triumphant tortoise to bring them the much need food.

Back in the skies tortoise got the message that the soft materials he had asked for had been laid out for him on the ground. Tortoise handed back rest of the feathers to the birds, and took a dive back to earth. As he approached, tortoise saw nothing but sharp and hard objects spread all over the ground. It was too late, and with no ability to fly, the tortoise crashed on the sharp utensils getting serious cuts all over his body. His shell was broken into pieces. All tortoise’s wife could do was to glue together the pieces but they did not fit as nicely as before the accident. This is why tortoise has a bumpy shell.

From Nigeria II: The story of tortoise

Very long long time ago time there was drought in the land and the animals convened a meeting to discuss how they were going to survive the famine. Tortoise came up with a plan that all the younger animals should kill and eat each other’s parents. One by one the animals killed their mothers and ate them. Unlike the rest of the animals, tortoise was cunning creature and did not want to kill his mother. Instead he devised a plan meant to save his elderly mother. Tortoise hid his mother high up a tree where no other animals could reach. When other animals could ask where tortoise’s mother was, he always responded that his mother had gone to a nearby village to see her relatives. Tortoise could wait until all the animals had gone to sleep, and he would silently sneak to the foot of the tree where his mother was hiding. The tortoise could then sing a soft song calling his mother to come down the tree and get some food. The song went like “mamuma olusu” meaning open the door mum. This is the arrangement the two had made, and every time the mother heard the song she would climb down the tree to receive her food. As days went by, other animals started getting suspicious of tortoise’s behaviour. Firstly they noticed that tortoise always kept aside some of the food he was given at meal times. Secondly the other animals noticed that tortoise was sneaking out of the camp every night.

One night tortoise sneaked out of the camp, as usual to give food to his mother. He did not notice that he was followed by the dog. When he reached the hiding place, tortoise started singing as usual, and his mother slowly climbed down the tree to get her food. The dog saw all this and he quickly run back to the camp where he told the rest of the animals about what he had seen. The animals got angry and immediately came up with a plan to punish the tortoise. On one occasion, when tortoise was not around, the animals agreed to send the dog to go to the place where tortoise’s mum was hiding and pretend that he was the tortoise trying to bring food to his mother. When the dog started to sing the calling song, tortoise mum became suspicious of the howling voice she was hearing and she decided to remain in hiding. Having failed to lure her on that occasion, the animals went back to camp and decided to repeat the trick the next day. On second occasion the animals chose the chameleon. The reason they chose chameleon was because of his ability to changes colours, and his colleagues thought he could use the same trick and mimic tortoise’s voice. When it was chameleon’s turn to go and sing the calling song, he managed to change his voice and tricked tortoise’s mum to climb down the tree. Immediately the rest of the animals seized tortoise’s mum, killed her, and was served as meal for camp that evening. When tortoise joined his friends for the meal, he got suspicious because the meat tasted different. Late in the night tortoise sneaked out of the camp as usual and went to check on his mother. When he reached the place where he had hidden his mother he started singing the usual calling song, but his mother could not come down the tree to collect her food. Soon the tortoise realised that the meat they eaten that evening was actually his mother. He went back to camp crying, and filled with shame. Moral of the story is that we should learn to be honest all the time. Whenever we are living in a society we should not think we are cleverer than the rest of the people. Instead of looking down at other people as fools, it is good to behave in accordance with the norms of the society.

From Nigeria III: The story of tortoise and the rabbit

Long time ago in the animal kingdom there lived a chief who had a beautiful daughter. One day the chief announced that he will organise a race and the winner will marry his daughter. Many animals wanted to try their luck and they all turned up at the venue. The rabbit was among the animals and he boasted that the rest of the animals were just wasting their time because it was him who was going to win the race. It was true that the rabbit was the fastest animal in the land and to avoid the embarrassment many animals withdrew from the race. However, tortoise was determined and chose to compete. The rest of the animals were rolling with laughter because they knew that it was going to be a race between the fastest animal, rabbit and the slowest animal, tortoise. Determined as he was, tortoise went to the starting line, and he was soon joined by the rabbit who mockingly looked at him. The rabbit even challenged the tortoise by letting him go first. Tortoise started the race, very slowly lifting one leg after the other. Rabbit hanged around the starting line, chatting with friends and telling them that he will start his race when tortoise reaches the half way point.

After a while, the tortoise reached the half way point and the super-fast rabbit bolted from the starting line. It was a sunny afternoon, and after running a few distance the rabbit whizzed past the tortoise. Undeterred the tortoise keep on going. Before reaching the finishing line the rabbit realised how hot the day had been. Without panic he thought of stopping under the shed of a nearby tree to cool off a bit. While the rabbit was resting, he unknowingly dozed off. The tortoise slowly raced past the rabbit who was now fast asleep. After several hours the tortoise came to the finishing line and was declared the winner. The tortoise was allowed to marry the king’s daughter, and the animals partied throughout the day. It was after mid-night, when everybody had gone, that the rabbit woke up from his slumber. He raced to the finishing line and found nobody there. Everyone had gone home. The fastest animal had lost to the slowest animal. Moral of the story is to never underestimate your opponent.

From Malawi: The story of Sikusinja and Gwenembe

Once upon a time there lived two brothers, Sikusinja and Gwenembe. The younger one, Sikusinja was the people’s favourite. He excelled well in many activities including sports and used to receive a lot of praises from friends and relatives. On the other hand Gwenembe, the elder one, despite his effort to match his brother’s prowess struggled to catch people’s attention. As the brothers grew up, Sikusinja used to receive gifts from the elders and well-wishers in the village. On the contrary, Gwenembe hardly received any gifts at all. As young men the two went to work in a faraway country. Whilst there, Sikusinja managed to save more money. Gwenembe spent all his money on luxuries and had nothing to save. After two years the brothers decided to return home. The journey back home took several days and along the way, filled with malice that his brother had saved more money, Gwenembe decided to murder his brother. Gwenembe took his brother’s clothes and money, and continued his journey back home. Little did he notice that some of Sikusinja’s blood had splashed onto a nearby bush and had turned into a bird that followed him all the way to the village. When Gwenembe arrived home, he lied to his parents that he had left his bother back at the where they used to work. Evening time came, and the bird that had followed Sikusinja landed in a nearby tree and began to sing about what Gwenembe had done to his brother. The elders of the village listened to the song and understood what had happened to Sikusinja. The following morning the villagers organised a hunting party and tricked Gwenembe to join them. While out hunting, one of the elders speared Gwenembe to death in retaliation to what he had done to his brother. Back in the village the hunting crew reported that Gwenembe had gone missing while hunting, probably eaten by a wild animal. Moral of the story is that no matter how best one tries to conceal their evil acts the day shall come when that will be exposed. Envy and malice have no room for the many tribes found in Malawi.

From Sierra Leone: The story of a little girl who went missing

There was a young disobedient girl who went missing. She had gone out to play without telling her parents the exact place she was going. The whole village went out searching for her in all possible places, but they could not find her. Her parents spent a lot of days looking for their child. Days turned into weeks, then months and years, still the little girl could not be found. One day the girl was miraculously found by a stranger who was passing by the village. When the girl was eventually reunited with her parents she could not remember them anymore, neither could she remember any member of her family. It was a difficult experience for every one because the child had completely changed. Moral of the story is that parents were trying to warn children that they should not just be wondering around, going to places they do not know or mingling with people they hardly knew in case they go missing.

From Zimbabwe: The story of Gudo and Tsuro

Baboon, Gudo in Shona and Hare, Tsuro in Shona, used to be good friends. They looked after each other so well such that nothing could come between them. The two animals loved each other dearly and they would consider themselves as uncle (Gudo) and nephew (Tsuro). They would go together to the nearby farms to steal milk from cows. Every time they go on mission, Tsuro would quietly layout the plan, whispering as softly as he could. On the other hand, Gudo was the chatterbox, always the loud mouthed one. He was talkative and could only speak on top of his voice. Gudo was such an over-excited character that he could barely whisper whenever they were in the kraal milking the cows. On one occasion their mission to steal milk was compromised because of baboon’s high pitched voice. The farm owner heard the voices coming from the kraal; he woke up, picked his weapons and went to teach the thieves a lesson of their life. Although the two managed to escape, they received a good beating from the farmer. They run to their hiding place, licking their wounds and wondering what went wrong. Deep down Tsuro knew that the mission had been comprised because of his friend’s over excitement. The friendship between the two eventually came to an end because of Gudo’s chattiness.

For the popular lullabies please refer appendix II ‘Mapping African lullabies’

Section D: Games and Entertainment

Africa has a rich variety of indigenous games, sports and entertainment that the young and old continue to enjoy up to this date. Most of the games were built around the premise of jumping, running, skipping, dodging, hide and seek and a majority of these games were played outdoors, which unknown to players, this favourite past time tended to promote an active life style. In most African traditions the games were an invaluable tool for teaching social skills in young people. The games helped children to work as a team, taught them to endure, and more interestingly become creative individuals. Since parents could rarely afford to purchase game equipment from the shops, boys and girls had to develop the skill of improvising own equipment to fit the occasion. With football being the favourite sport, balls were made out of discarded plastics papers, and the young ones would use any open space as their playing field. Toys were made out of moulded mud and the girls could sew their favourite dolls from left over pieces of cloth they would pick from the tailor shops. Outlined below are some of the games and sports that used to entertain our participants.

Ayo, Bawo, Bao, Wari, Mancala

This game is played on a curved board with 12 round pits, 6 on each side. Sometimes players would simply dig small pits in the ground. The game is very popular in many parts of East and Central Africa as well. For instance, the Ebira people call it Igori, in Malawi it is called bawo, and bao in Tanzania. The game involves two players. Each player has 32 seeds on his side (2 seeds in each playable hole). Players take turns to win as many seeds as they can from the opponent’s side. Winning the game depends on the player’s logic and ability to correctly manipulate numbers.


This is a popular game among the Ebira people of Nigeria, also known as gusu in areas around Kogi state. The game is played using snail shells or soft metal sheets shaped like snail shells. The game is played by two players and its test of one’s endurance. A player spins the shell and cuts it with the stroke of his finger aiming to make the base of the shell land flat on the ground. Any player who misses to achieve this fit offers his hand for the cone strike on the back of his hand.

Suwe, Hop Scotch, Adayi

This is a game popular among primary and junior secondary school pupils in Nigeria. Players use chalk or charcoal to draw a big rectangle on the floor. The rectangle is then divided into smaller squares. To play the game, all players would stand outside the rectangle, and the starting player would throw the stone into the desired square and hop on one leg to go and pick the stone. Some of the rules of the game were that players should not touch any line when hopping, and that they should jump over the square that has the stone in. One had to be a very good at jumping, know how to maintain balance, and very good at throwing the stone.


Said to be a popular game among girls in Zimbabwe and other parts of southern Africa. In this game the players sit in a circle around a wooden or metal bowl filled with 20 to 30 small stones or marbles (sometimes players would simply draw a circle on the ground). Players are meant to toss the stones up in the air and catch them before they hit the ground. Major rule of the game was that the bigger stone, called the mudodo was not allowed to hit the ground. As the mudodo is thrown up, the player uses the same hand to remove other stones from the circle. It’s all about quick fingers, the player tries to pick up as many other stones in the bowl as she can. You need to have three or more players to make the game more fun. Once all players have had a chance, the stones are counted and the one who collects the most is the winner.

Stick in the circle (Round – us)

Another popular game, and known by different names across different countries. The players had to divide the circle into segments depending on the number of the players. Each player would choose a country which they want to be identified with. To start the game, players would all stand inside the circle; and one player would call the name of the country being represented. Immediately all the players had to run, except one player whose name had just been called. While the rest of the players try to run as far away from the circle as possible, the player whose name was mention runs into the centre of the circle and shouts the name of any other country that is being represented in the game. The owner of that country must stop immediately the moment s/he hears her name. Then the player who was in the circle will have to count 10 steps to get to the player whom he directed to stop. If the player who was stopped is reached within the 10 step, then it means she/he has lost her country and loses her place in the game. Same routine is repeated several times until there are only two players remaining. The one with most number of countries wins the game.

Seemingly, other popular games from Zimbabwe were raka raka, which is a game of elimination and Chiwandewande, local’s version of hide seek.

Section D: Traditional Food

Food plays an important part in the identity of African people. There are certain types of cuisine which helps to understand how people label themselves; and for our survey we asked individuals to identify which types of food symbolises their culture, how that food is preserved and prepared. One of the interesting things we noted was the popularity of corn/maize flour (sometimes substituted with cassava flour) that seemed to be at the centre of staple African dishes.

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