08.05.2018 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

Young People Develop Mobile Applications for Preservation of Traditional Games in Kenya

Mobile app developers of traditional games of Kenya, in Kisumu (c)UNESCO

UNESCO organized a 3-day training for 25 young people from 25 to 27 April 2018 on development of mobile applications for traditional games in Kisumu County, Kenya

The three days training aimed at providing young people with practical skills to develop mobile applications on local traditional games, how to preserve and disseminate information about the games and promote indigenous and local knowledge for learning, development and the rapprochement of cultures in Kenya.

Facilitated by Kenya Telecentres Network, the training saw presenters from the National Museums of Kenya showcase selected traditional games to participants and challenged them to create exciting mobile applications from the selected games for android platforms.

During the training, participants were divided into 5 teams were taken through practical technical sessions on how to design mobile applications prototypes for android applications, how to connect them to databases and how to publish and run them on an android phone. At the end of the training, participants created 5 mobile applications prototypes for android applications. Participants were upbeat about the idea of digitization of traditional games and many agreed that if traditional games are not digitized and kept for future generations, they risk being lost. Aluju Nicole, a participant from Maseno University said,

I had a very good experience been enlightened about traditional games, some of which I did not know existed. I developed a great interest in Android platforms too since I had never had an experience of developing applications for Android platforms. It was such a great learning and networking experience for me and I hope UNESCO will bring more related trainings to Kisumu in future”.

Out of the 10 presented games by the National Museums of Kenya, the participants selected 5 games after consideration of their complexity and or ease of digitization through mobile applications development. The selected games included;

a) Rope Skipping – Young girls of between 8 to 14 years play this traditional game. Two (2) or more players play it at a time and in each of the sessions, respective competitors compete for the most successful number of skips. In this game, several competitors can simultaneously or in turns jump the rope that is held from both ends. In the event that only two players are involved, a tree or a pole is used and the rope has to be tied at the corresponding height of the player who is swinging it.

b) Bull Fighting - Bull fighting is a popular traditional game among the Abaluyia in Western part of Kenya particular the sub-tribes of Idakho and Isukha. These two Luyia communities are inhabitants of the Ikolomani, Khayega, Shinyalu, Lurambi, Kabras, and Malava sub counties of the larger Kakamega County.

c) Hide and Seek (Brikicho) – This is a game played by kids by way of hiding from each other in turns. When its ones turn to seek, the rest hide and signal the seeker to look around for those hiding. Whoever is found first takes a turn to seek others while the rest hide.

d) Bow and Arrow - This game was played in Kenya, specifically among the Kikuyu, Embu, Kamba, Taita, Miji Kenda and others. It is synonymous with modern day game of archery and principally a boys’ game, though the bows and arrows were vital defensive equipment among some communities such as the Kamba of Kenya.

e) Stick Fight - This traditional game is played by older uncircumcised boys and morans (warriors) using sword-like or club-shaped sticks. It is mainly played before circumcision initiation rites among the Rendille and Samburu communities. In this game, the participants are organized in three (3) groups of association namely junior, middle and senior level. The game helps participants gain “advancement” to next level with age and practice. Stick fights are socially accepted forums for preparations to warrior hood. It is popular among pastoral communities namely the Rendille, Samburu, and Maasai. Other communities that played this game include; Meru, Embu and Kamba

Twenty-five (25) young people drawn from local universities Multimedia University, Technical University of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Maseno University, Catholic University, Kisii University, University of Nairobi and Lake Hub Academy attended the training in Kisumu County, Kenya.

The Open Digital Library on Traditional Games (ODLTG) is a repository of freely available resources about traditional games. The creation of an openly accessible digital library as a repository of Traditional Games also falls within UNESCO’s mission of promoting innovative use of ICTs by young people for digital preservation, as well as for the development of crowd-sourced information for educational, scientific and cultural benefit in Kenya.

The training was organized within UNESCO's framework of the Memory of the World Programme, the Recommendation for the Safeguarding and Preservation of Moving Images and with the kind support from the Chinese IT leader TENCENT.

Additional Links:

UNESCO and TENCENT partner to create an Open Digital Library on Traditional Games

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