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Mr. D Vilakazi of KwaMaphumulo explains that bottom refers to a lowly area – the ground thus in the game refers to anything that moves on the ground. Top refers to those things flying on air.

The person consulted

Mr. D Vilakazi of KwaMaphumulo gave an explanation on how this game is played.

Who play this game?

This game is played by boys and girls from 4 years upwards.

What is used to play this game?

No particular equipment is needed to play this game.

When is this game played?

This game can be played at any time during the day or at night.

Where is this game played?

This game can be played while sitting down or standing.

How is the game played?

This game is played in pairs. The first person asks and the second one responds. If one says bottom the other should give a name of an animal which moves on the ground. If he/she says top, the other one should give a name of a bird which flies on air like this:
Phansi : Inkomo
Phezulu : Ijuba
Phezulu : Inkonjane
Phansi : Idube
Phansi : Indlovu
Phezulu : ungcede

The game continues and if the one who is responding makes a mistake he/she is out of the game. Sometimes children would count the answers given so that they can compete on who gives the most answers. Sometimes they play in threes and the third person would keep tally of the answers. It is also advisable that the leader of the game should know different types of animals so that the partner cannot cheat.

When naming birds the one responding should not repeat birds which have been named before. If he/she gives the name of a non-flying animal instead of a flying one, he/she is out of the game. Also if he/she repeats, she also gets out of the game. Children would allow others to play if they are out of the game.

Custom associated with this game

History reveals that African people had a good knowledge of animals both domesticated and wild as well as birds found in their areas of residence. This game taught children about different types of animals and birds. It was customary for people to know the animals found in their area. Therefore, children had to know about them too.


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.