Traditional games in Ghana are an integral part of the country’s cultural heritage. These games have been played for generations and have deep cultural significance. They are often played by both children and adults as a form of entertainment, social bonding, and skill development.
The evolution of technology has changed the way children play today and you will not see as many kids playing these games as you would have in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. However, one of the beauties of Ghana is that many traditions are still practiced and a treasure trove of local games have been passed down through generations.
Here are 8 traditional games in Ghana you can teach your children, play as a family or even with a group of friends:
Pilolo, one of the most popular games in Ghana
Pilolo, a word derived from the Ga language, a prominent ethnic group in Ghana, translates to “one, two, three.” The game is a captivating fusion of hide-and-seek and treasure hunt, which has been played by children and adults alike for centuries.
The objective is simple: one participant, often referred to as the “owner” or “seeker,” hides an object while the others cover their eyes. The rest of the players, known as “searchers,” then embark on a thrilling journey to decipher the hidden location using a series of clues provided by the seeker.
Pilolo is more than just a recreational activity; it is a thread that weaves communities together. Through the laughter and excitement that fill the air during a Pilolo game, the bonds of friendship and understanding are strengthened, making it an essential part of Ghanaian culture & lifestyle.
Nowadays, Pilolo enthusiasts have introduced variations, such as incorporating modern landmarks and technologies into clue-giving. This infusion of innovation ensures that Pilolo continues to resonate with younger generations, bridging the gap between tradition and modernity.
Oware, another game in Ghana you can´t miss
Also known as Mancala, is a popular board game played across many African countries, including Ghana. It’s a strategy game played with seeds or stones on a board with shallow pits. The objective is to capture your opponent’s seeds by strategically moving them around the board.
An interesting fact about this game is that back in the days they used to dig twelve holes in the ground (two rows with six holes in each row) and then use palm kennels to play this game. But now, “Oware” is carved out of wood and can be taken to any place you want.
You will probably see this game in particular around any souvenir shops you encounter or even places like the Accra Arts Centre.
Ampe is a traditional outdoor game played by two or more people (usually only girls). It involves rhythmic clapping, jumping, and quick reflexes. Players take turns performing specific movements and clapping patterns while jumping over lines drawn on the ground.
This game originated in Ghana but is now also played in other African countries. You can check out the following video to better understand the dynamics of this game.
Chaskele is regarded as “Ghana’s cricket”. The game requires a bat (which can be recreated with sticks), flattened cans such as milk cans (to recreate a ball) and a car tyre (as a goal post).
A minimum of two players are needed to play this game. The aim of this game is for a player to successfully toss the flattened object into the hole in the tyre, while the players with the sticks have to prevent that from happening.
Counters Ball is a replica of a football game, with the only difference that instead of using a Playstation to play, you use bottle tops (used as footballers), any small round object (used as the ball) and recreate some goal posts. Players take turns in hitting their counters to get the ball into the opponent’s goal post.
Ludo, a very traditional game in Ghana
Ludo is one of the most popular traditional board games in Ghana. It can be played with 2-4 players and involves moving coloured tokens around the board based on the roll of a die. The objective is to get all your tokens to the center of the board before your opponents do.
It is so popular that it has even been digitized and can be downloaded as a game on your phone.
This is a funny game but could also be dangerous for those who love their food and do not like to share. “Chem Pe” means, “to share equally”.
The rule of the game is that whenever a player has food and doesn’t exclaim “no chem pe” to the other players, they risk splitting their meal equally. This can get interesting when there are a lot of players!
Alikoto requires the cover of a pen and the cover of size D batteries. By combining these two, you can create a simple toy that can be spun (called “alikoto”). The idea is that players spin the “alikoto” and try to turn it flat in its head by hitting its bottom with the side of their palm.
Whoever fails to turn the “alikoto” on its head will be hit with it on the hand by the other player(s) who successfully managed to do it.
These are just a few examples of the many traditional Ghanaian games that have been enjoyed by generations and can now also be enjoyed by you! Not only do they provide entertainment, but also promote social interaction, physical activity, and the preservation of cultural traditions.