The traditional games of the Akamba of Kenya
Kithuka, Munyao Raphael
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Traditional games have been recognized as a significant part of nations' cultural heritage. Today, in circumstances of global integration, people's future mostly depends on preservation of their cultural variety. Most of the traditional games and sports, expressions of indigenous cultures and ways of life contributing to lie common identity of humanity are under the threat of waning. Additionally, those that are surviving are threatened by imminent disappearance and extinction under the combined effect of globalization and harmonization of the rich diversity of world sport heritage. Prior to this study, research on traditional games within Eastern Kenya particularly of the Akamba, as it is with many parts of the world, had to a great extent been ad hoc, and influenced by theoretical traditions and practices. It is this trepidation and, informed by global research trends, that this research was undertaken to identify, describe and document the traditional games of the Akamba on the basis of the rules that governed them, facilities and equipment used, their significance to the individuals and the community as well as the socio-cultural settings within which they were performed. Twenty three (23) traditional games were identified through qualitative design tool of interviews. Respondents of seventy (70) years and above were purposively identified and interviewed. They were sampled through the non-probability, purposive, sequential sampling method. All the information collected was examined, compared and classified in accordance with specific standards advocated by Clarke and Clarke (1984). For comparison and analyses purposes, these games were classified using Cheska's (1987) scheme with three games falling under games of physical challenge; fourteen games under games of physical skill and strategy; one game under group interaction; one game under rhythm and singing games; one game under games of imagination; one game under mental games category and two games under games of environmental context. Games were performed within the community's family homestead with the peers and significant others playing a major role in teaching them. Games were crucial in instilling desired skills, attitudes and values, improving fitness and health, fostering social cohesion, as sources of fun, recreation and relaxation, maintenance of ethnic and group identity as well as the medium through which the common -y values, traditions and culture were reinforced and preserved. Arising from these findings, it is recommended that all possible efforts need to be made to document, revive and popularize these games through the Ministry of Education, ministry of Higher Education Science and Technology, Ministry of Gender and Sports as well as universities and research organizations. Measures should be taken that involve education, incorporating them in texts and academic curriculum popularizing them through modern technological advancements as well as creating forums for mass participation. Improving health through these games would significantly reduce healthcare cost and increase production as well as giving people an opportunity to practice their cultural activities.