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The topmost branch

Mr. T Siphamla of Amanzimtoti said that birds like to sit in the furthest branches of the tree. That is why a person who climbs trees to the highest branches is said to be at the topmost branch at which birds perch.

The person consulted

The researcher spoke to Mr. T Siphamla who explained how this game is played. Though he resides at Amanzimtoti, he originally comes from Matatiele.

Who play this game?

This game is played by boys from 6 years to 14 years.

What is used to play this game?

This game is played using a tree.

When is this game played?

This game is played during the day throughout the year.

Where is this game played?

This game is played where there is a big tree to climb at.

How is this game played?

This game is played by boys of any number from two upwards. Boys compete about climbing the tree. They would ask each other if any of them would climb to the topmost branch. They all climb the tree but some fail to reach the topmost branch. The one who climbs to the furthest branch is also referred to as the topmost. He would then shout to the others who would shout back. They would say:

Ophezulu : Ngikuphi mina? (Where am I?)
Abaphansi : Ukwelenyoni (At the topmost branch)
Ophezulu : Nina? (And you?)
Abaphansi : Phansi (At the bottom)

This game is dangerous because the topmost branch may move and be broken. The one at the topmost may be seriously injured by the fall.

Custom associated with this game

Customarily everybody was supposed to know how to climb trees. This would help if a person is chased by a wild animal and seek refuge in the tree because most animals are unable to climb trees.


From a Masters dissertation by Victoria Mkhize for the School of IsiZulu, University of KwaZulu-Natal. Supervised by Professors P.J. Zungu and V. Prabhakaran.