19.3.05

Games

Kiddos today might have computer games, video games, consoles, etc, but the sheer joy of playing with a mkebe in the 80s cannot be matched. I pendad ‘Shake’ (why was it called shake?) ‘cause it brought together nearly everyone from the Esto. I bet some people even met their future mchumba right there whilst playing shake. The good bit was being in the team lengaring the gate-keepers, the bad bit was being tapped or being the gate-keeper. There was also hide & seek of course, which I also loved, but that one’s been there since the 1780s (or from Huckleberry Fin’s time) so it’s not really unique to our childhood. In one episode of hide & seek we decided to actually hide in someone’s hao – a complete stranger’s, and we just went into their living room and burudikad on their velvet sofas! Haiya, the mathe walked in and she just smiled, saying ‘hello children’! Amazing that community spirit in Estos.

Then there were marbles and conkers; I never liked these. Kuna faida gani hapo? And there was patco (?) or was it pata? It involved the insides of soda bottle tops (kumbuka those round, white things lining the inside of a bottle top). The point of the game was to blow them or something. Then Coca Cola tokead with a competition, whereby if you found certain images on those white mamthings you could win something (usually a tennis racket or ball), so people kept a collection.

Aah what about Bladder? Hiyo ni innovation ya Kenya pekee, someone should patent it. That idea of recycling tyre-tubes (baada ya making ‘Kala’ shoes) is so Nai 1980s. Some people could ruka that bladder even when it was held as high as someone’s shoulders, and sijui there was a thing where a player twisted the bladder round one ankle, rukad with the other – aah mambo mingi with just one elastic rope. If you lacked vironda it showed you didn’t have Bladder prowess as the road to conquering the game involved many falls and scratches.

Skipping is like hide & seek – not particular to 80s, but can any one remember making their own skipping rope? In class we used to be asked to bring sisal for art/craft lessons, and so we would plait our own skipping rope. These wouldn’t have the necessary nguvu, as skipping ropes were supposed to be heavy, so they were too flimsy to skip with. At some point double-dutch arrived in Kenya, but I never got to mastering it.

As for “electronic” games, there were various varieties of Nintendo hand-held thingis. Uchumi tried to make their own version (I think the concept was ‘shoot the fish in the barrel’ – how marvellous) with bits of plastic fish surrounded by water, and the thing you ‘shot’ with either failed to materialise or it went in one direction, so that was pointless. Those were mainly for boys, though; for girls there were just dolls. Lakini hakukuwa na Barbie, Cindy, and other stick-dolls. Those dolls were chubby, rosy cheeked, with mathe hairstyles, and although I was never a dolls kinda person, they were okey to play with.

Other games included Monopoly, Snakes & Ladders, Cards (is it still true that playing cards outside is arrestable?), Scrabble. These games were played in the hao or in chuo in the week before closing day – kumbuka that feeling, exams over, no lessons, aah what bliss. There was also Lido (or is it ludo or cludo?), Dominoes, Chess, Drafts (hata grownups used to play drafts – just take cardboard, chora checks into it with Bic, find bottle-tops and voila).

Then there were silly or sinister games like ‘tapo’ (run around, tap someone and they’re “it”), kaka (was it the one with a stick and a mkebe?), play-pretend (imagine and act as if you are a teacher/nurse/ policeman [“Maze toa kitu kidogo hiyo toy moti ina mwaga brake fluid”]) constructing your own language (ours had an extensive vocab and additional sign language).

I almost forgot that game “STOP”. It involved 2 or more players and sheets of paper with columns drawn into them for names of cars, countries, foodstuffs, people names, etc. So basically, someone would name a letter from A-Z and the players would have to fill in the columns (so for letter A: Alfa-romeo, Algeria, Apple, Alice). The first person to complete the column would say “Stop”, then everyone would exchange their answers and award points. That was an enjoyable game unless someone said X, Z, V or some other such letter (“ufala kabisa”). Other games involving paper and pencils included noughts & crosses, hangman (what a sadistic concept), join-the-dots, and crosswords or word puzzles from Sunday Nation (Young Nation was a must-read then; sijui walifanya nini nayo).

Then there were bicycles. Kiddos would ride their bikes up and down the Esto tirelessly, all day and all week in the holls, and they would nyima others a ride. Sometimes it was after dark, and you could still find a kiddo riding their bike. Some could do “wheelies,” or the equivalent of vehicle handbrake turns (when you spin a car with the handbrake on – err not that I’ve tried it myself). There were BMXs, Raleigh bikes, Mountain bikes, but a bike was a bike, and they were in demand.

The entire school holls were spent playing these games (no TV before 5.30, remember?) – but then chuo came up with the not-so-nice idea of compelling pupils to attend “holiday classes” and TV expanded, so I guess that’s when the bliss of Nai childhood started going down the drain.

13 Comments:

At 2:45 pm, Blogger nick said...

ka kawaida love to reminisce

 
At 2:47 pm, Blogger nick said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:53 pm, Blogger nick said...

hey there would like u to see my 5jan post on games but better yet i'd like you to do a post "dare to remember" posted on 22jan...so i can also see your take on it.

yours truly fellow reminiscer

 
At 3:01 pm, Anonymous Memoire said...

wow you'd posted on games also? Ai ni kama tukologged onto the same memories? I'll check them out

 
At 4:13 pm, Blogger Afromusing said...

Remember "Kiss Commander Promise" This is soo enjoyable! Keep reminiscing.

 
At 4:23 pm, Blogger nick said...

am tellin you we're on the same wavelength....

and afromusing thank you for calling it kiss commander promise ...i had been accused of playing some gay-fantasy game!!! correctly its kiss command or promise but we used to call it kiss commander....

 
At 4:50 pm, Blogger Adrian said...

my two favorite games back in the days (for us guys):
- playing soccer with those home-made balls. those balls made of old newspapers, juala (nylon bags) and fungad with sisal.
- making cars from old clothes hangers and bladder (black elastic). i remember there was this one guy in our esto who had specialised in those cars - yani almost all the guys in our esto would have at least one car from him. i remember us going to petrol stations to get oil - so that the cars run smoothly and i think also to cool the axles.

 
At 10:38 pm, Blogger Kenyan Pundit said...

Took me back to "Cha mama" - stealing warus, oil and makaa from your kitchen, constructing a cooker from a Blueband mkebe, and making chips. And hide & seek rules..."I draw a snake upon your back, which finger did I poke you with" and unalay goosie eggs (where the hell did that come from?). I was one of the few girls who played "nyabs (marbles) with the boys in the estate. I had a blue "spider" marble that was the envy of many. Play station has nothing on a estate filled with idle kids.

 
At 12:45 pm, Blogger M said...

And that simple way to pick someone out of a group -- "dip dip dip... My mother and your mother were washing the clothes. My mother gave your mother a punch on the nose. What colour was the blood? Red. R - E - D, so you are out of the game!"

 
At 9:07 pm, Anonymous Mshairi said...

Your blog makes me remember so many nice things about growing up. Thank you and keep blogging!

 
At 2:20 am, Anonymous Mama JunkYard said...

I think the game was called Shake because it started with a handshake between the person marking the first line and the opposing team member who was about to start running through the boxes.

In fact the only way a person could enter the game area was if they shook hands. A bit like tag-team wrestling.

What about Kati?

 
At 6:34 pm, Anonymous Memoire said...

Oh yes I remember kati now, that was the one involving 3 or more people and a ball, and the purpose was to lenga the ball.

 
At 5:54 pm, Blogger faddiyah84 said...

I simply love this blog. Gives me so many memories, yaani kids of nowadays aint got nothing on us. I dunno if only my friends and i played this, but remeber that novel-FAMOUS FIVE? my friends and i were so into that novel and sometimes later they showed the program on tv, but we ended up having our own personal secret FAMOUS FIVE club where we investigated any mysterious things happening in the estate. we even had code names and secret knocks when we had meetings. Did anyone else do this?

 

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