A Childhood Game

In the morning, before the sun sets, a group of Nigerian boys and girls - Ibo, aged four to six, were gathering in the front yard of the family home, and we would use a dry branch to scratch a grid of columns and rows within an area of ​​six square feet on sandy earthy ground. . Then we will rotate and line up with our backs to the grid. From outside the margin, the first child throws a pebble on his head, hoping to land in any of the smaller units in the network. Then, as the network margin continues, the shooter must retrieve the pebble, wherever it lands, from outside the margin.

There was a good shot when the pebble landed in a central stroke, where the child could rest on one leg and one hand, stretching his body and retrieving it with the free hand. The successful throw and retrieval gave the child ownership of the unit, and he could use the acquired units to retrieve the received gravel. The most accessible units are those closest to the margins, which we first tried. The pebble that did not fall into any unit was a bad throw, which allowed the next child to throw it.

The aim of throwing children and seeing them from behind was to challenge most children. It was like groping in the dark. One had to mentally calculate the position of each unit so that a pebble lying on it could fall without slipping.

There was a lot of kinetic planning (practical application) that went into this critical part of the play. For example, the child had to think about how much force he could apply to the pebble, and in what direction he wanted to go. He also had to remember which units were still open; that is, those units that were not already acquired. Retrieving the pebble from its landing site was also a challenge. To do this, they had to support their bodies on one leg and one arm, while using the other hand to pick up a pebble. This maneuver must have largely entrusted the vestibular balance system, as well as joints and stimulation. Children who do not have a sound balancing system often deviate and fall on their belly.

There were also occasions when children were expected to jump around units on one leg to retrieve a pebble. It was against the soles of the feet touching the lines. Avoiding the commission of the rule requires a lot of precision and application, and coordination between the optical system, the engine system, and the vestibular system. We made redundancy and redo. Each toy lasted for hours and became tougher when each child was forced to land in gravel in one unit in the grid. However, I think we persevered because we were competing against each other and because the play was difficult.

This does not mean that there were no frustrations. Children with budgetary difficulties were particularly frustrated with playing this particular game. Ironically, I remember the frustration side of the game more than the routine parts. I remember the tendency of the pebble to slip from the grid, the times the children graded on the lines, the children falling on their belly when they reached their right hand while they were balanced on the left arm and left leg. The falls, though disappointing, were also fun. Unfortunately, like cultures, Bonafide Igbo's early childhood play continues to fade from the list of games that children can play.

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