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Indigenous games played Print E-mail
21 September 2010

A host of traditional games, from dibeke and intonga to jukskei, were played at the Gauteng Provincial Indigenous Games.

CULTURAL activities and the value of traditional games were emphasised at the Gauteng Provincial Games Tournament, held in the run up to the national competition.


Two contestants lug it out in a game of intonga
Two contestants lug it out in a game of intonga


The Gauteng department of sport, arts, culture and recreation hosted the Gauteng Provincial Indigenous Games, held on 18 September at the AW Muller Stadium at the University of Johannesburg in Auckland Park. It was the culmination of preliminary selections in Gauteng’s West Cluster (Westonaria), South Cluster (Sicelo, Emfuleni), East Cluster (Duduza), Central Cluster (Lenasia) and North Cluster (Zonderwater Prison, Pretoria).

The National Indigenous Games will take place from 6 to 9 October at the same venue. Winners of the provincial games go through to the national ones where they represent their provinces. Entertainment on the day was from Sikhumbuzo Sithole, who performed a poem called An Ode to Gauteng and a theatre piece with his group, T.kgom Productions.

Love Life, the Aids awareness group, also gave a presentation and Gabisile Mbuyisa, a Love Life Groundbreaker, said: “Love Life aims to reduce the spread of HIV/Aids in South Africa by 80 percent in five years. We have [different] programmes that cater for 12- to 17-year-olds and for 18- to 25-year-olds.”

Mzwandile Tyobeka, a Ward 63 councillor in the inner city, or Region F, welcomed the guests to the games. “This is Heritage Month and I’m happy such a day has taken place as these days shebeens have become recreation centres and we need to do away with that culture, which is not ours.”


Dibeke is popular amongst girls
Diketo is popular amongst girls


Tyobeka also welcomed the MMC for sports, arts, culture and recreation, Nelisiwe Moerane, who said: “The purpose of these games is to make the youth not to forget about the sporting activities that their ancestors played and to further instil pride for these games. This is a sustainable programme that will help to enhance your recreational involvement and promote our heritage as a province and country at large.”

Participants competed in sports like dibeke, khokho, diketo, ncuva, intonga, kgati, morabaraba and jukskei.

Intonga is a stick-fighting game in which two sticks are used - a long stick for attacking and a shorter stick for defending. Diketo is a game of co-ordination in which each player gets 10 small stones or marbles and one big stone. A small hole of about five centimetres deep is dug in the ground, where the small stones will be placed. Only two players can play it at a time.

Dibeke is a running ball game, with two teams of 12 players each – six males and six females. Each team chooses a captain to liaise with the match facilitator. Each team must also have a scorekeeper who will count the runs of each player and each team during the match.

Morabaraba is an indigenous board game, using a board made of wood with 214 junctions – circles or holes – on it. This game is played by two players at a time and each player gets 12 different coloured tokens or stones, which are known as cows.

Jukskei players use skeets between 300mm and 460mm in length that have to be thrown on to a central stick. A team of jukskei consists of four players, one of whom is the leader. Ncuva is another board game, in which two to 12 players can play at a time.


The game of jukskei involves on throwing skills
The game of jukskei calls on one's throwing skills


Kgati is a rope jumping game, in which several girls jump over the rope either one by one or simultaneously. Khokho is a running game, with two teams of nine players each. There is a running team and a chasing team.

Drie-stokies is a jumping game comprising two teams of five players each. The game is set up on the ground with three sticks placed about a metre apart from each other. Players then leap over each stick several times, at different levels and winning points.

The Indigenous Games tournament was launched on 24 February 2001 at the Basotho Cultural Village. There are clubs for the games, registered under the South African Dibeke Association. In Gauteng there is also a Dibeke Association and a Jukskei Federation, which form part of the selecting and officiating teams.

Participation in indigenous games emphasises physical development, skills training and maintenance, reinforcement of community values and interaction between communities. These games are part of the national strategy to optimise South Africa’s cultural heritage and values by instilling a sense of pride in its cultural games.

As part of showcasing South Africa’s indigenous culture to the world, the country participated in the 2008 World Indigenous Games in Korea. The next World Indegenous Games are scheduled for 2011.

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Last Updated on 27 September 2010