Last week Friday I did a presentation at the Bermuda Youth Library on Zimbabwe. The kids ranged from 5 to 13 and some of the mums were there too. I talked to them about a lot of things including our culture, food and things that you can see if you go to Zimbabwe. Since it was a presentation for kids, I thought they would enjoy learning how to play Zimbabwean games and they enjoyed it! I played, tsoro with two of the kids and they beat me! I suck at any game. It made me realise that a lot of people actually don’t know about the traditional Zimbabwean games and that is because we have kept it to ourselves.
Growing up in Zimbabwe we played many games, traditional games like tsoro and nhodo as well as all the other games you find in the west like hopscotch, dodgeball or skipping rope. During school holidays we would play these games for hours on end, though I was more on the supporting end. It was so much fun, no shoes, looking like you work in a quarry mine at the end of the day and we would only go home if we were hungry. To play tsoro we would make pits in the ground and use pebbles or peach seeds. I realise that this may not be always possible depending on where you live so your other options are to draw circles on a large piece of paper or make a board using the salt dough. This tutorial will show you how to make the board using the salt dough. This will be a fun project for children.
Salt Dough Clay Recipe
1 cup salt
1 ¾ cup hot water
4 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a bowl, add salt to hot water. Stir until salt is dissolved.
Add 2 cups of the all-purpose flour. Stir.
Mould clay into a log and then roll it to about 3/4 inch and into a rectangle. It is not going to be a perfect rectangle so don’t sweat it.
Make 20 “holes” using a cup or those plastic egg things.
Place on an oven tray and bake for 1 hour or until hard and dry. Place on a wire rack to cool off.
Paint the board any colour you want, I painted the inside of the holes as well.
You can use beans or chickpeas as “stones”
Here are the instructions for playing tsoro( I adapted these instructions from here):
- At the start of the game, all pits are filled with the same number of stones (the initial number of seeds can be selected from the options menu. The 2 top rows belong to the top player and the 2 bottom rows belong to the bottom player.
- The starting player chooses any holes from his/her set of holes and collects all the seeds in that pit by picking seeds from one of the pits and then distributes them one per pit in the succeeding pits going in one direction (either clockwise or anti-clockwise).
- This direction is maintained throughout the game. If the last seed falls into a non-empty pit in the outer row, the player collects all the seeds in that pit and redistributes them into the succeeding pits.
- If the last seed falls into a pit in the inner row, the player captures all the seeds in his or her opponent’s two pits in the same column as his or her pit and distributes them as before.
- A player’s turn ends when the last seed being distributed lands, either in an empty pit in the outer row, or in a pit in the inner row which is in the same column with an empty pit in the opponent’s inner row.
- The game ends when one of the two players has captured all the seeds in the pits of the other player. The winner is the player with all the seeds.