Sunday, March 15, 2015

Congolese Nzango And Ghanaian Ampe (Information & Videos)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a three part pancocojams series on certain traditional African competitive dances, games, or sports.

This post provides information and video examples of Congolese Nzango and Ghanaian ampe. This Central African and West African game are presented together to highlight the similarities between these two games. Furthermore, readers of Part I of this series will notice the similarities between both of these games and the foot work descriptions of Kongolese nsunsa.

Several comments presented after the video given as Example #1 for Ampe includes the names of similar African games.

Click for Part I of this series.

Part I features information about the Kongolese empire, descriptions of Kongolese nsunsa and descriptions of South American adaptations of nsunsa.

Click for Part III of this series.

Part III of this series provides information about and videos of the Latin American dance "malambo" and its Congolese dance.

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, recreational, and aesthetic reasons.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to those who created these traditional games/sports and thanks to the past and present practitioners of this game/sport. Thanks also all those who are featured in these videos, and who published these videos on YouTube. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.

From Historical Dictionary of Republic of the Congo By John Frank Clark, Samuel Decalo p. 325
"Nzango also called dzango, is a widely popular woman’s dancing sport that has taken root both in the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Originally a children’s game, it involves one team of 11 dancers exactly copying the moves of dancers of the opposing team. Nzango’s rules were standardized in the years between 2008 and 2010 and national tournaments have been organized. The Congolese government has recently promoted the sport as a vehicle for improving physical fitness among Congolese women."
Additional comments about nzango are found below.

These examples are given in chronological order based on the video's publishing date on YouTube, with the video with the oldest date given first.

Example #1: Congolese game isn't just child's play

AFP news agency, Uploaded on Jan 25, 2011

"Nzango", a traditional Congolese game for children, involves leaping about while singing nursery rhymes. But, unlikely as it may seem, it's now developing into a hugely popular competitive sport for women across central Africa. Duration: 01:19
Here's my [partial] transcription of the English statements given in this video. Additions and corrections are welcome.
"Nzango, a traditional Congolese game used to be only played by children. But now it has become a competitive sport for grown ups too. And it’s particularly popular with woman.

The rules are complex, but points are scored by crossing or uncrossing your feet
Referee- “If a player crosses the yellow line, she gets a yellow card, and is excluded for two minutes. If she crosses the red line, she gets a red card. If she skips without keeping pace with the songs, she is reminded that she must jump in time with the music.”

To play “Nzango” you certainly need a sense of rhythm. And Congolese woman see it as a way to keep fit and a good reason to get out of the house....

In three years more than seventy teams have been formed in Eastern Kinshasa alone, But Nzango is also popular across the entire Congo. And slowly but surely it’s infectious combination of dance and sport and song is spreading throughout Central Africa."

Example #2: Nzango

TheBeachpreacher,Published on Feb 10, 2014

Nzango i Kimpese, Kongo Kinshasa
The squad sings a call and response song in the beginning of the video and also sing while playing the game.

Example #3: les mamans nzango de lausanne suite

AVIS DU PUBLIC TV, Uploaded on Dec 27, 2011

Music: "Mochokokt wa michonga" by Carlyto Lassa
Here's a comment from that video's discussion thread:
TheHCGTube, 2013
"bonne video mais pourquoi couvrir les chants de musique????"
Google translate from French to English
"good video but why cover music songs ????"
I think that comment is questioning the reason for the music in the backqround since traditionally the game is played just with the participants' chanting.

Example #4: LE NZANGO MODERNE [Modern] (Contemporary) Nzango

Charles Mbuya, Published on Apr 1, 2014

Here's a comment from this video's viewer comment thread:
mosekayameke, 2014
C'est une idée géniale que d'exploiter le NZANGO qui est, à l'origine, un jeu que j'ai connu et pratiqué dans mon enfance, en Rdc (j'ai 68 ans). C'était un jeu pour fillettes et jeunes filles et les points se comptaient exclusivement dans une certaine langue. Et l'on comptait: èmoti, ébalé, ésato, ènei, étano, motoba, sambano, monana, mobua, longosa ( 1 à 10). L'équipe qui totalisait 10 remportait la manche puis on enchaînait jusqu'à ce que les filles décident d'arrêter de jouer. Ah!!! quelle nostalgie!!!
Google translate from French to English
"It's a great idea to exploit the NZANGO which is originally a game that I have known and practiced in my childhood, on the ground floor (I have 68 years). It was a game for girls and young women and the points were counted only in a certain language. And there were: Emoti, Ebalé, ésato, enei, etano, motoba, sambano, Monana, mobua, Longosa (1 to 10). The team had 10 scored in the then chained until the girls decide to stop playing. Ah !!! How nostalgia !!!"
Instead of the word "exploit" in this translation, it would be better to use the words "promote the advantages of".

"World Games – Ampe!

Tim Hull‘s wonderful videos on children’s games from different countries were made to support the work of the international play organization Right To Play.

Ampe is still a very popular game for girls (and a few boys too) everywhere in Ghana. It’s a combination of a good physical workout, social bonding and strategy...

In addition to his short film (about 15 minutes) on the energetic Ghanaian game of ampe (AM-pay)…
Detailed notes on the game are here. The film is particularly interesting because it includes an oral history of the game...

It includes an explanation of the rules, some strategies for winning, and a demonstration which ends with 15 year-old Sandra Ampofoah of Mampong-Akuapem emerging as the excited overall champion.
Sandra explains that it’s a matter of studying patterns of play, anticipating your opponent, making snap decisions and having very quick reflexes....

100 year-old Madam Rose Animah and 88 year-old Madam Elizabeth Kyei are the real stars of the film. They relive their glory days as champions of the game when it was a serious competitive sport between the ampe “companies” of several villages.

In the “old days”, crowds of spectators would come to watch the tournaments, which could go on for as long as two or three days. There was even a special dress code, designed to give plenty of room for jumping and throwing out your feet!

Today ampe is a schoolyard and children’s playground activity rather than a community event, but it has survived, unlike many of the “ancient games” lamented by Rose Animah and Elizabeth Kyei."..
The above mentioned associated website of notes on the Ghanaian game of ampe includes very interesting descriptions such as these:
"The style of clothes is very important to the game of Ampe. Most important of all is that each girl should wear a short and tight skirt facilitating the necessary movement of the legs. This style of dress carries with it a chant from spectators "Okpeng" (Short) to which the participating girls would cheer "Odadwee" (Tight). It's obviously not only the game of Ampe that drew young men to these events, but also the girl's daring fashion....

Anticipation is key to becoming Champion. Girls who observe and calculate each opponents bias towards throwing a particular leg forward and then being able to anticipate this momentarily, is Ampe's major skill to be mastered. Players are not allowed to hold back and throw their legs later than their opponents, this is cheating, so they must be extremely quick to switch leg positions at the slightest nuance or change in their opponents manoeuvres."
Additional information and comments about ampe are given below.

Example #1: Ampe (a ghanaian children's game)

AritHeru23, Uploaded on Sep 6, 2008
some footage of a very popular game played by little girls in ghana.
Here are several comments from this video's discussion thread:
Mizz Mefu, 2012
"Played in Nigeria as well, called Tente"

Tom Ngo, 2013
"In douala Cameroon we call it mbang... Africa is amazing..."

Ghanaperu, 2013
"Whoever said it's like Simon Says is very wrong. It's like the guy in the video said, like Rock, Paper, Scissors. You're trying to win, not copy the leader. And, boys do play it. It is not strictly for girls, although it is normally girls who play. At least, that's how it is in the Volta Region."
"Volta Region" [of Ghana]

Example #2: Ampe, Game played in Ghana

Phil Paoletta, Uploaded on Jul 20, 2010

Ampe, a Ghanaian game typically played by schoolchildren. It involves jumping, clapping twice and throwing your leg out. Before the match begins, you and your opponent decide whether you are going for straight or condor (phonetic spelling). If you go for straight, you get a point if you throw out your right leg and I throw out my left -- our feet/legs would line up in a straight line. If you go for condor, then you get a point if you throw out your left leg and I throw out my left leg. You play to five or ten.

Example #3: Students Playing Ampe ("AHM pay")

William Rosebrock, Uploaded on Dec 8, 2010

At the Christ Prince of Peace School (CPOPS) in Ho, Volta Region, Ghana. December 2010


cassandra ntiamoah Published on Jun 17, 2012

playing Ampe with Gina.

This concludes Part II of this series.

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