GAMES FOR THE BOYS
Ole The act of playing the game is ime ole. Ole is the most active game for the boys. All the participants must be active and on alert when the game is started. The game seeks to hold an ankle of any member of the opposing team. Any member of the ole team tries to protect his ankles from being held by an opponent as well as aiming at holding an opponent’s ankle. At the end of the game, the team that has more catches is the winner.
The players share themselves into two equal teams in number. The numerical strength of the game depends on the number of boys present before the game starts.
To start the game, the members of the teams stand facing the others on a row, and on a good distance between the two rows. When the song of the game is started by one of them, kokoko-o, others will sing the chorus, ole; osime ite, osime ole, ole; kokoko-o, ole, etc. As the song is sung by all the players, they are gingered into action, each aiming skillfully on how to meander to the opponents’ team base to hold any of them by the ankle. If anybody succeeds in doing so, he quickly shouts, agwere-o, agwere-o, agwere-o. The quick shout is to prevent others from either holding his ankle or catching other persons by the ankles any longer. In short, the quick shout is meant to put an end to further catching of ankles during the round.
This round of the game ends in favour of the team of the player who made the catch. The game can be restarted, for as many times as the participants want. When the ole game ends, the rule is that wrestling, mgba, must follow.
Mgba (Wrestling) This is a contest in which two opponents grapple and try to throw each other to the ground. Mgba featured prominently in Ika community during the olden days. Now, it takes place on different occasions. For example, tradition demands that on the second day on the Igue festival, mgba, by the junior age grades must take place in the different village squares in a clan. Tradition demands also that during the second burial rites of the most elderly men in some villages, mgba must take place. Some members of the elder second age grade engage in mgba, which is a mere formality to honour the deceased. In those days, if two persons were quarrelling and refused to heed to attempts made to make them stop the quarrel, the elders around could cause them to engage in mgba once or more times to enable them know who was stronger. In most cases, the quarrels ended after the mgba.
The mgba described above is quite different from the mgba that is being considered in this chapter. Mgba is a game for the male youths in the community. As a rule, the ole game dovetails into that of mgba. It is a sort of competition among the members of the two ole teams. Perhaps, the team that lost in ole game may want to win in the mgba game.
Age mates are often paired for the mgba game. All the participants in the concluded ole game may take part, pair by pair. However, there is no hard and fast rule about it. The senior ones among them may decide to watch the junior ones engage in the game.
Mgba game may also feature in a moon light play without being connected with the ole game. The youths may decide to engage in the game for a change. In some cases, different Idumu extend mgba contest to others, the aim being for such Idumu to let others acknowledge their superiority in the game.
To win in an mgba game, a contestant has either to completely throw or fall his opponent down. A situation of declaring a contestant a winner may also arise when he carries his opponent in such a way that it becomes clear that the opponent must surely be thrown down. In such a case, the elders around or the unpires may stop the game to save the opponent from further punishment.
If both contestants fall with none on the top of the other, the game is said to be mkpowa, which means that the game has ended in a draw. A situation may also arise where the contestants spend more time than is necessary for the game with no sign that either will defeat. The game is stopped by the umpires because it has ended in ikena, which is a draw.
Igba-Akpere This is a game which derives its name from the seed used for playing it, akpere. It is played on a dry pitch made on a hard ground in the compound.
The players consist of two opposing teams each being made up of two persons generally, but this can be increased to three or four.
The pitch consists of akpere seeds which are stuck to the ground, seven in a row and on three parallel rows. The rows are about 30-40 cm apart with the distance between the columns about the same extent. In addition to these rows, on either side, there are four other seeds, two pairs, stuck to the ground. These are placed in a central position at the front of the rows, the same distance of 30-40 cm. from the last row. This pair is known as eze mkpume onu the ‘the king of sealed lip’.
The strategy of the game is that each team tries to knock down as many seeds of the opposing side as possible. The first team to knock down all the seeds of the opposing side is declared the winner.
To start the game, a player on one side takes an akpere seed, spins it either with one or two fingers, to the other side aiming at a seed in a row. If a seed is knocked down, it is removed from the row and added to those seeds used for spinning.
If the first spinning from his side did not knock down any seed on the opponent’s side then, a player on the opposing side takes a turn to spin, aiming at a seed on the opponents rows. He also spins all the seeds which have been knocked down from his side, and which have been kept away from the pitch. If the seeds to spin are many, the members of the team share them among themselves for spinning.
Sometimes, a skillful player can knock down a seed which in turn, knocks down one or more other standing seeds. All such seeds knocked down are removed from the pitch, and used to spin in order to knock down other seeds.
No game can be won until the eze mkpume onu is knocked down. If the eze mkpume onu is knocked down, the player who knocked it down will keep his mouth sealed until he has succeeded in knocking down any other seed in the opponent’s side. If his teeth are seen before he is able to free himself, the game was declared in the opponent’s favour. This rule is taken very seriously that if such happens, all the seeds for spinning are surrendered to the partner involved to enable him knock down at least, a seed in order to free himself. Also, the team does that in order that the opponent does not cheaply be declared winner. If the eze mkpume onu is the last standing seed on a side, it has to be knocked down seven times before it is declared ‘knocked down’. This time, the rule of sealing the lip does not apply any longer.
The central line YZ helps the players to decide whether a spinning seed can be replayed or not. If the seed is unable to reach it before it stops, it can be retrieved and replayed. But if it passes the line before it stops, it cannot be replayed.
Chief (Dr) Onyekpeze .F.A. (JP)