Traditional Setswana games were a favourite pastime back in the day, and as “progress” became a buzz word in Botswana sadly many of these games and indeed their rules have slowly disappeared from memory.
To the rescue come Kenneth Tebogo Middleton, Batswana Basimolodi and Kgafela Milan William, authors of Metshameko ya Setso rulebook which documents the rules to playing some of the famous native Setswana games including Diale, batho safe, donkey donkey, dibeke, ma-roundas, mhele, koi, skonti ball, diketo, black mampatile and suna baby.
According to Middleton the book is the first of its kind to document the wealth of Setswana traditional games found here and in South Africa. “We felt it was important to write about these games because there was no information available in any medium and they could be forgotten without proper documentation. There has been a change of lifestyle in our society and even the types of games children play nowadays are highly influenced by the technology infested environment they live in. And this book was written as a point of reference and to be practically used by children in a classroom context or during Physical Education classes to add to cultural wealth and enjoyment to a child’s learning process,” he said.
He went on to say that historically, indigenous games played an important role in socializing the youth, promoting cultural practices and keeping communities active and healthy as the games are rich in physical and mental challenges. “Players of these games acquired strategic skills, precision/accurate skills coordination and arithmetic skills through practice and experience,” he added.
For his part co writer Basimolodi added that their initial idea was to host a tournament where all the Setswana game could be played but later changed to writing a book. “We have always had this idea of documenting the games for as long as I can remember and even though we have started with the book we are going to also have a tournament where we host all these games and brand all materials used for playing, for example the chama bricks used to play marbles. In this first rulebook we were not able to cover all the games which is why we are planning to introduce the second edition next year which will cover some of the games we left out. We are also planning the official launch of the book, which will be announced soon,” he added.