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Children's Folk Games in Ghana
Pilolo Game Antoakyire Game

All over the world, every society passes onto the new generations traditions of the old so as to maintain their cultural heritage.  One of such traditions is children’s folk games. In traditional African societies, and the traditional Ghanaian society in particular, it is one of the ways of passing onto the young, its accumulated knowledge to enable them play adult roles and there by ensure the survival of their offspring, and the continuity of the community.
Through the games, the young ones have informal education.  They learn by listening, watching and doing.  In practical ways therefore, they learn how to live as members of their community.  They are taught the community’s code of conduct and behavior by the rules and regulations of the games.

In general, the goals and aims of the children’s folk games can be summed up as follows.

  • 1. For body building or exercise
  • 2. For recreation
  • 3. Passing over the traditions of the old
  • 4. Carrying out some hidden messages
  • 5. For protection against immoral practices
  • 6. For socialization

  • The games can be categorized into three

  • a) Games solely for boys e.g.  “Antoakyire”, Playing marbles, Shooting of birds, ”Sansankroma”,  “oware” among others.
  • b) Girls only: "Aso", "Ampe" among others.
  • c) Boys and girls: "Siisiisii", "Finding your lover", “Ahyehyeaba”, "Hide and seek", "Ahuntahunta", and others.
  • Most of the games are played after the evening meals especially under the moonlight, and among neighbours within an area in the town or village. 

    I would like to talk about how one game from each of the three groups is played.
    “Antoakyire”.  This is a game for boys only.  Up to about twenty players can take part.  
    The larger the number the more interesting it is. The players stand in a circle and each with a piece of cloth tied in a form of a knot at one end. Before the game starts, a place or object of refuge is chosen and a defaulter is free from beating as soon as he runs to the place or object of refuge.

    One player holding a piece of cloth begins to run behind the others who are in a circle.  
    He leads the others in a song and they all join.  As he runs behind, he carefully puts the cloth behind one player.  This player leaves his place and follows the first who comes to take the place of the second player.  The second player also runs behind the others and carefully places the cloth behind another usually the one who may not be very attentive. 
    The idea is when a piece of cloth is placed behind a player and the owner of the cloth goes round and comes back to meet the player, all the other players start beating him until the defaulter runs to the place of refuge. They all come back and the defaulter starts another game by running behind the others and tries to place his cloth stealthily behind another person, and the game continues.

    The next game is "Ampe". This is mainly for girls. Usually two girls are involved. It could also be two teams of more than two in a team. The players or teams are identified as “Ohyiwa” and “opare”.  
    'Ohyiwa' scores a point when a player’s left leg meets the right leg or right leg meets the left leg of 'opare'. "Opare" also scores a point when the left leg meets the left or the right leg meets the right leg of "ohyiwa". The first to get ten points wins the game or contest.  The game: Two contestants at a time, one from each team start clapping their hands while singing and jumping. As they land each manipulates the legs and places one leg forward.  As explained above, 'ohyiwa' wins by the left leg meeting the right leg or right leg meeting the left leg of "opare".  "Opare" scores by the left leg meeting the leg or right leg meeting the right leg of "ohyiwa". 
    There is no referee but every team counts its scores as the game progresses. The first to get ten points wins.  A set of games is played and the higher scorer determines the winner.

    Finding the way: “Menya Kwan Mansen” as it is called in our language, is a game of a mixture of boys and girls.  
    A number of children join their hands together to form a circle. One player will be inside the circle. The idea is for him/her to try to break through and escape.  He/she goes round and asks “Which way is this”? The others respond… mentioning the names of the towns and villages around. This player then leads in a song. 
    “Menya Kwan Masen” and the others respond “oowa”.  “Mennya Kwan Mensen” “oowa” Meaning “I want a way out, but I cannot find the way". As he/she moves round inside the circle still leading in the song, he/she will be finding the line of least resistance by taping the joined hands.  Having determined this, when he/she reaches this point he sings aloud and taps hard and breaks loose and runs away.  One of the two children who let him escape goes inside the ring and another game starts.

    Apart from the physical benefit the youth derive from these games, the youth in the case of “ampe” develop their body coordination and intuitive faculties for adult life. "Antoakyire” on the other hand teaches the child to have endurance, be watchful and a bit skeptical in life as all that glitters is not gold.

    Written by D. A. Akuoko
    School Coordinator
    WorLD I*EARN- Ghana  

    Antoakyire Game

    That is an Akan folk game literally meaning it was not put behind you.

    The children all sit in a circular fashion. Then one of them is made to carry a cloth and run around them singing:

    anto akyire o anto akyire o
    then they will all respond
    yie yie yie!

    anto akyire o anto akyire o
    then they will all respond
    yie yie yie!

    obiba bewu o
    (somebody's child is about to suffer or die)
    yie yie yie

    Kapoi poi
    All ( yie yie yie)

    The song is repeated as many times as one continues to run around.
    He/ She does so many revolutions and the rule of the game is that for those children sitting, no body should look back. In the process, the moderator or the one whose turn is to run around secretly and quietly dumps the cloth behind one of those seate and continues to sing as if nothing has happened. The fast person should have a way of making sure that when the cloth is put behind him or her he/she will know and pick it and run after the moderator/person. If he or she is able to catch the moderato before he or she sits down, the new to be moderator, has the right to give the cloth back to the fellow who dumped the cloth. But if the seated fellow is that absent minded and does not realize that the cloth is behind him or her and the moderator goes round and comes back to meet that person still sitting. He/ she will hit lightly at the back of the fellow and all will laugh.  Afterwards it is that person's turn to run around. The game continues till they decide to stop.

    Nuruddin Boateng
    Opoku Ware School, WorLD/I*EARN-Ghana

    Pilolo Game

    In Ghana, we have a lot of children's folk games. The game I would like to talk about is called  "Pilolo", in our country meaning  "Time to search for".
    In this game about four people are needed including the timekeeper and the leader. This game normally takes place from 3:00 p. m. to 6:00 p. m. depending on any work will be done in the house.
    Before the game starts, the timekeeper has to stand at the finishing place, that is the end point. The leader will also be with the other four to make sure that no one moves from where he or she is supposed to be.
    The leader will hide sticks or stones in palm trees, in the sand and a whole lot of places. Then he will come and announce "Pilolo", while the timekeeper starts his watch .The person who is fast and able to reach there early for one of the hidden sticks and hurriedly runs to the end point is the winner of the game.
    The game is repeated several times till they wish to stop. The results are tabulated to find out the final winner.
    In fact, this game helps a lot in so many ways and is doing a lot for children in this country. The game helps children to healthy because it is a kind of exercise for the body. It helps them to physically fit, mentally alert and emotional sound.
    It also helps the children to be sociable and always learn how to live peacefully with other people and it also helps in morality. Since all the idle children get something to do by then they do not think about immoral acts like boy-girl relationship, indulging in drug abuse and the like such  acts in the end lead to teenage pregnancy and its attending problems which society do not accept from the child.

    Written by: Harriet Osei-Wusu, SS 3B class
    Teacher coordinator D. A. AKUOKO 
    Yaa Asantewaa Girls' Secondary, Kumasi, Ashanti, Ghana

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