Mambila Village Life: The Children Games
The Mambilas do not have many games, but from the ages of 6-12 a few games are played. For instance:,HIDE AND SEEK:This is played at night only after dinner. They all hide themselves and one is left to look for them. Anyone who is found has to take the seeker's place.
JUJU or DODO GAME: This is said to be very enjoyable. One or two persons dress up as the Dodo in coverings of leaves. These two carry whips and anyone they can catch they can whip as hard as they can. The others make great efforts to avoid being caught. Only the bright and 'smart' can take the part of the Dodo. This is also a night-time game.
SPEAR THROWING: A starting line is marked out. Everyone stands on the line and throws his spear as hard as he can. The winner may give his 'follow-maids' (i.e. girls who follow the boys about and attach themselves to the ones they like best) each a stick. They may set up targets, e.g. a banana-stem. One who misses continually will be much derided.
MAIZE HARVEST: At the time of the maize harvest there are various sorts of games in which each boy will secure the allegiance of his 'follow-maids', and have them ready at hand. One form of this game is to make a covenant with a friend. This is done by joining two fingers of either hand together and getting your friend to loosen them; he will then join two fingers and you will loosen them. Then at any time if you should find him roasting maize you may strike the hand that is holding the corn cob and if he drops it, it is yours. You should wait until he has finished roasting the maize.
GRASS MEN: Twisting the long grass together and making models of human beings, both male and female, is much enjoyed. A nice flat hill is found, with good long grass growing on it. Each will make his own hut out of grass and surround it with figures of persons, the men holding shields and spears; the will then try get one or more of the girls as their 'wives' pears and shields may be made of grass or bamboo. The boys and the girls will choose the boys they like best. The boys then take their 'wives' to their houses and the girls will pretend to cook food (having brought with them broken bits of calabash and cooking pots) with earth and water. They also pretend to have intercourse as man and wife and in every way simulate grown-up married life. The boys make spears and shields and have mock fights. This game is played in August-November when the grass is long, especially on fine days when their parents have gone to the farm and won't hinder them. The parents do not pay much attention to this game as they do to others.
"PIG STICKING": A banana bulb will be dug out and trimmed in the shape of a ball. Two people then sharpen 3 sticks each in the form of a spear. Then they go to a steep hill where the grass is short and the ball will roll easily. They roll the ball down the slope and catch it trying to spear it. This is a most popular game and boys who play it are loath to come home at dinner-time.
WRESTLING: This is the most respected form of past-time and is played continually, anywhere and any time. The style is more or less that of Cumberland wrestling; the competition starts with one hand each resting on the other's shoulder. They then grapple for a hold and the one to touch the ground with any part of his body other than the foot is the loser. There is a good deal of by-play in wrestling, the preliminary moves being often in the form of a dance ritual.
SOME COMMON BELIEFS AND SUPERSTITIONS: If you mistake someone's name or cannot recall it, they believe that the name you give the man indicates something true of his character or fate. Further, if a man is chewing something, it will be hard for a friend, however familiar, to recall his name until he has finished chewing. If you are eating and bite your own lips, it means someone is speaking of you and has spoken evil. On a journey it is bad luck to stub your toes, and a warning not to go or go by a different path. Stubbing the toes of the left foot always indicates evil to come, whether on a journey or in the compound. But if you stub the toes of your right foot, that is a good omen and means your journey will be successful.