The One With Stripes

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I came across the title from a definition of a name. Who am I? I am appreciated and loved by the writer. I hold his desire to be successful. And I bond with Kenya for having gifted me my childhood memories, my stripes. I poke on a few that spot on games, friends and change.

When I walk around my childhood neighbourhood, I see long and tall concrete buildings with no boundaries; my playground turned a den of homes. I see no old cars parked in compounds, which have been turned into garden hills for vegetables, while some are reptiles and insects homes. There’s no grass hence I doubt there’s any hunting of grasshoppers by the kids of today. I rarely see growing mushrooms on the road sides as it used to be every time the heavens had blessed us with a little bit of rain. All I see these days are new cars, beautiful developments, and a whole lot of a concrete jungle! I don’t see games, not like it used to. As for the games, my favourites were:


Chobo na ngoto - Dangerous is the nature of the game. A player gets mobbed for letting a ball pass between the legs, and it's a storm of beatings. I remember as a victim I felt hot, the pepper-like after-effect after getting myself beaten. I however gained focus and attention whenever I played, I did not want to repeat the same mistake. Opponents would beat one with joy not minding the dangers that were involved. It was a game with my brave friends. A game it is!

Bendings - The all-time game of Tension! We would oath on this and once you are found bending, be it on work or play, you would get a kick! This at one time made a friend get hospitalized. He was kicked so hard and then brushed it off, only to experience difficulties in walking minutes later with a complication. A no joke but a joke game at the same time. It’s an enemy to manhood, which is tested at the peak of feeling the pain once hit.


One-touch - A two player’s football game with a one-touch rule. This game built my attention and perfection towards anything. We normally used bare feet because shoes… not minding the risks of kicking a stone or the ground – yet as funny as it is you always had to be aware of the sneaky ‘friends’ who would swap the right ball with a stone wrapped like a ball and then invite you in for the pro you are! I have scars from this game on my toes, can't try it now.


Bano - This was a game we would play within a circumference using a marble, where we would shoot and hit or crack the opponent’s marble and later make it to the center hole and emerge the winner. The game exercised our fingers more so the middle one that is commonly used to play.


Sliding - This taught me some hiking techniques. We used to cut plastic jerricans into half from top to bottom, sit in and slide, sloping from a hill or a slanting slope to the furthest one could go. Our trousers or shorts got torn from behind and we nicknamed this a 'torch' since one could not fail to see the torn parts. At times our buttocks would get injured and from then one got sense! 'Kichapo nyumbani' - “beatings at home” - was to most who actively played. A game it is!


Birikicho Babies! - Formally hide and seek. This is a game that limits no number. The seeker is to spot all hiding members to get a trophy. The first person to be ousted from their hideout runs the next episode of seeking out members; a military training of some sort. This game generated love, patience and secrecy since at most winners would emerge in pairs, you get me? It was not a must though. This is the most loved childhood game.


Duf mpararo - This swimming fanatic recalls our brave times. I remember the day we ganged up for a pool party in a dam that had once been a dumpsite! Careless as usual we swam, not taking into consideration the dangers present like the day we lost a classmate in a swamp. R. I. P. We still neglected everything and swam, I long to be a child again.

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