Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Family games in Dagara, Burkina Faso

"On a sunny afternoon, the village gathers in three distinct groups. THe first is the group of elders or grandparents. The second consists of the children and grandchildren. The third group is made up of the remaining villagers, the adults. Grandparents are seated each on a stool in one tight, straight row, dressed in their best clothing, and the children as posted some sixty to ninety feet away. Someone intones a song, and everybody, including the children, sings.

"But the kids, as they sing, run toward the row of elders, each one selecting a grandparent and focusing an eye on him or her while singing and running. As the song ends, these children crash into the laps of their chosen grandparent. Some collisions are mild, others a more rough, but the overall impact is sweet and loving. After the crash, the children return to their position and start all over again. Every time a crash results in the fall to the ground of the elder and the child, they are out of the game. If, after the third time for boys, or the fourth time for girls, there is no fall, then the child must switch to a different elder.

..."It  is not a competition, yet everybody looks forward to the crash, and everybody is happy whether there is a fall or not. Very rarely does a grandparent fall as a direct result of a grandchild jumping on him or her. The interesting thing is the bonding that it permits, and the fact that it becomes the subject of talk long after it is over. Gradually, children don't distinguish between different grandparents. Every old person comes to be known as Grandpa or Grandma. Reinforcing this idea is the general party that follows the crashing ritual, which the entire village takes part in. Here each child dances with a grandparent while everyone spurs them on with great excitement. The party with the very old and the very young is very exciting to watch.

"These examples suggest that what is required for maintenance and growth of a community is not corporate altruism or a government program, but a villagelike atmosphere that allows people to drop their masks."

Malidoma Some, the healing wisdom of Africa, p94-5

No comments:

Post a Comment