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Indigenous games contest begins Print E-mail
07 October 2010

South Africa’s many cultures and heritages are playing out at the National Indigenous Games, where provinces are taking each on in a variety of sports.

HOT on the heels of Heritage Month – celebrated in September – comes the sixth National Indigenous Games, aimed at preserving traditional pursuits like morabaraba, jukskei and khokho.


Indegenous games bring people of different cultures together, says Rasegantsho Matsao
Indegenous games bring people of different cultures together, says Rasegantsho Matsao


South Africans have been playing these games for years and their cultural importance is stressed through the games. The games began on 6 October, with drum majorettes leading a procession of the participating provinces.

The National Indigenous Games are taking place from 6 to 9 October at the AW Muller Stadium at the University of Johannesburg Bunting Road Campus in Auckland Park. Provinces taking part are Mpumalanga, North West, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Games in the competition include intonga, diketo, dibeke, morabaraba, jukskei, ncuva, kgati, khokho and drie stokkies.

Minister of Sports and Recreation Makhenkesi Stofile wrote a message of support, saying: “It is with pride once again to see that the Indigenous Games has gained the recognition it deserves in our country. When the games are played each and every one of us [will] remember how when we were young we spent most of playing these games and never realised that it was indeed a healthy and constructive past time which saw us being active and involved in team playing.”

He said that honouring our indigenous games “unshackles us from the stereotypical thinking that our games are inferior. These are our games and they are ours to preserve, to hold on to, to teach and to share.”


A contestant takes part in a game of jukskei
A contestant takes part in a game of jukskei


Rasegantsho Matsao, of the Eastern Cape team, explained the meaning of the games: “The games are about our roots, who we are and about our culture. At the opening yesterday we had people wearing IsiMpondo; IsiXhosa and SeSotho … although I’m Sotho, I’m playing for the Eastern Cape team but I do not feel like I’m representing Xhosas as these games transcend boundaries such as culture.”

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

Solomon Matswetji, of the Limpopo team, pointed out: “These games unite us as people and once we are united there won’t be any discrimination or bias against each other.

“The difference between indigenous games and mainstream sports such as soccer, rugby and cricket is that these ones do not have age restrictions and can be played by anyone from five years to 100 years,” added Matswetji.

Limpopo’s coach for dibeke, Ngwako Ratlabala, also spoke about the importance of the tournament: “These games help us as a nation with different cultures to come together practising what is indigenously ours.

“We used to play dibeke without rules growing up; now it has evolved into a sport or game with rules.”

The next World Indigenous Games are scheduled for 2011.

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Last Updated on 15 October 2010