16 Childhood Games Anyone Who Grew Up In Nigeria Can Relate With

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By FELICIA ODIGIE

Growing up in Nigeria can be all shades of awesome, weird and just plain insane, depending on the kind of Nigerian parents you had. But, the awesomeness of playground time cannot be disputed, sometimes I want to shed off this adult skin and dance in the rain while playing suwe or ten-ten.

We’ve listed seven games that make us reminisce about our childhood. Do you remember any?

Ten Ten

In playing this game, girls stand facing each other and clap their hands as they move their legs to a rhythm. The goal of each girl during this game is to ensure that she does not raise the same leg directly facing the other girl – which means it is no problem for a girl to raise a left leg when the other girl raises a right leg. The moment a girl raises the wrong leg, the other girl scores a point.

Tinko Tinko

Girls loved playing this game. It involves two partners or a group of people facing each other, clapping and interchanging palms and slamming hands of their partner in a rhythmic pattern while singing the theme song; Tinko! Tinko!! Tinkoko Tinko!

Fire on The Mountain

Children would form a large circle holding hands and running in a specific direction singing, “There is fire on the mountain. Run! Run! Run! The chants go on until the anchor says “the fire is up” and everyone scrambles around to find a partner. The player without a partner is made to squat in the middle of the circle. The removal process goes on until a pair is left and they are awarded winners.

Who is in the Garden?

The game begins with the children singing “form a big circle” and the anchor comes to the middle and runs within the circle singing “who is in the garden” and the crowd responds “a little fine girl/boy” and the anchor responds “Can I come and see her/him” and the crowd responds “no, no, no, no” and the anchor taps someone saying “follow me”. The person being tapped on runs after the anchor around the circle and if the anchor is not caught, he/she replaces the anchor and the game continues.

Willie Willie Willie (Change your style)

Children would form a big circle while holding their hands, the swing and clap their hands as they sing the theme song “Willie Willie Willie Willie o”. The most exciting part is when the anchor says “Change your style”, “Another style” and everyone struts that pose they have been aching to show off and eventually, the anchor says “be like that” and everyone freezes while the anchor makes funny faces trying to make them break character without touching them. Whoever breaks character takes over the anchoring job.

Hide and Seek (Boju boju)

This was the Nigerian version of the hide and seek game. A group of children come together and one person would volunteer or be chosen as the seeker. He/she closes his eyes and counts from 1-10. He/she begins seeking after counting and whoever is found first becomes the seeker and starts to look for more people to catch.

After Round One 

You would have to sing the theme song “After round one original panadol extra, o tun gbe de” before placing your fingers on the table. Each player chooses a number and if your number showed up on the table, you win. The last person remaining would put his palms together and the others would slap his hands. Sometimes, the slaps broke into a fight.

Tyre Race

This was like a race but with tyres. Find old tyres, slap the tyres from behind and run against your opponents until you reach the finish line. Sometimes, a stick or twisted metallic hanger is used as steering.

Table Soccer

It’s either football or counter ball for most of the boys. A football pitch is drawn with chalk on a surface, the St. Louis sugar packet was the goal post and the cork of soda bottles were the football players. Just like a normal football game, two teams are involved and they flick the corks until they can score.

I Call On

A competitive game where everyone takes a name or colour and wait until they are called. This game though interesting, built adrenaline as you have to be ready to run as far as you can once your name was called on until you hear stop. If the caller caught up on you, you replace the caller or lose a point depending on how the group wants to play the game. 

Suwe

Depending on the type of ground, someone would draw about six squares with chalk, rock or use sticks to draw horizontal and vertical lines. The game begins with each player taking turns to jump in the boxes with one leg and seeds placed behind their palms. If a player can finish each box without touching a line or missing a box, they will buy a house and the player with the highest number of houses wins.

Police and Thief

This was an imitation of action movies. Most people wanted to be the thief/to be caught so the number of thieves outnumbered the number of police/people who wanted to catch the bad guys. The police had to run after the thieves and capture them. 

Rope Skipping

Lots of girls played this game. The interesting parts about the game were the different styles made while skipping the rope and when two people skipped the rope. There were other groups of girls either lined up waiting to skip or cheering the skippers on.

Biro Game 

The aim was to knock your opponent’s pen off the table with your pen. All you had to do was flick your pen with your fingers so it hits your opponent’s. Players took turns hitting each other’s pen until their opponent’s pen falls off the table. Some players went as far as customizing their pen; using rubber as a ring on their pen so it would serve as a grip but all the game required was skills.

“If You Are Born In….” 

One of the games that excited children because of the personal factor it wielded. Everyone formed a large circle clapping and singing ‘If you are born in *insert month*, stand up and dance. All who were born in the month mentioned come to the middle of the circle and dance. The months are usually mentioned in chronological order beginning from January to December. The game had children anticipating the mention of their birth month and the dance step they would pull when their turn came.

So, which of these were your favorite?

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