Liberian Children's Games

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Liberia is almost unique amongst the central African countries in that it was not colonized by European powers. Instead, Liberia's formation began in 1822 when freed slaves from the Americas began to return to Africa. The freed slaves then set up an independent republic in 1847. While Liberia has, and continues to have, problems concerning stability, democracy and peace, its children try to go about their lives as normal and enjoy playing just like any other children.

Tetherball

  • Like children worldwide, Liberian children enjoy playing tetherball. Tetherball is similar to volleyball or tennis in that two players must hit a ball back and forward to each other without letting the ball drop. The difference in tetherball is that the ball is attached to a rope, which is a attached to a stake in the ground. This means the ball never gets lost but it also means that after a short rally the ball is traveling at a great speed and can be difficult to hit back to your opponent. In some areas of Liberia, local children call this game "Toil."

Lapa

  • Lapa is a Liberian variation on dodgeball and is played using a ball or sandbag and lapas, which are Liberian sandals. One child goes in the middle of the circle and arranges the lapas into a specific pattern while the children around the edge of the circle take turns to throw the ball or sandbag at him. Whenever the children miss, the child in the middle has the chance to further arrange the lapas. If he is hit by the ball then he leaves the circle and the child who threw the winning ball takes his place in the middle of the circle.

Mancala

  • This game--popular worldwide--originated in central Africa and was known as Wrah in the traditional Kru language spoken in parts of Liberia. The game uses a wooden board with 12 indentations in two rows of six, with two larger indentations at each end. Each of the 12 indentations are filled with small stones. To move a player must take all the stones out of one of the pits and deposit them one by one in the indentations moving either left or right until she runs out of stones. The key is to try to land stones in the large indentation on your end of the board, which symbolizes that you have captured it. The player who captures the most stones is the winner.

Queah

  • Queah is a strategy-based board game that originated in ancient Liberia. It is used to teach children tactical and logical skills. Similar to checkers, queah uses a grid of 13 slanted squares around which wooden discs move and try to capture each other. As with checkers, the winner of queah is the player who captures all of his opponent's wooden discs.

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