Life was simple back in the day before Technology evolved and video games became mainstream. Kids go to school, come home and immediately head out to play with their neighbours relying on whatever was available. These games would keep 90s babies entertained for hours until it got dark or our mums came looking. We take a fun trip down memory lane with a list of 15 memorable games Nigerian kids played in the 90s. This does not include the Solitaire Masters.
Girls loved playing this game. It involves two partners or a group of people facing each other, clapping and interchanging palms and slamming hands of their partner in a rhythmic pattern while singing the theme song; Tinko! Tinko!! Tinkoko Tinko!
Willie Willie Willie (Change your style)
Children would form a big circle while holding their hands, the swing and clap their hands as they sing the theme song “Willie Willie Willie Willie o”. The most exciting part is when the anchor says “Change your style”, “Another style” and everyone struts that pose they have been aching to show off and eventually, the anchor says “be like that” and everyone freezes while the anchor makes funny faces trying to make them break character without touching them. Whoever breaks character takes over the anchoring job.
Fire on The Mountain
Children would form a large circle holding hands and running in a specific direction singing, “There is fire on the mountain. Run! Run! Run! The chants go on until the anchor says “the fire is up” and everyone scrambles around to find a partner. The player without a partner is made to squat in the middle of the circle. The removal process goes on until a pair is left and they are awarded winners.
Who is in the Garden?
The game begins with the children singing “form a big circle” and the anchor comes to the middle and runs within the circle singing “who is in the garden” and the crowd responds “a little fine girl/boy” and the anchor responds “Can I come and see her/him” and the crowd responds “no, no, no, no” and the anchor taps someone saying “follow me”. The person being tapped on runs after the anchor around the circle and if the anchor is not caught, he/she replaces the anchor and the game continues.
Hide and Seek (Boju boju)
This was the Nigerian version of the hide and seek game. A group of children come together and one person would volunteer or be chosen as the seeker. He/she closes his eyes and counts from 1-10. He/she begins seeking after counting and whoever is found first becomes the seeker and starts to look for more people to catch.
After Round One
You would have to sing the theme song “After round one original panadol extra, o tun gbe de” before placing your fingers on the table. Each player chooses a number and if your number showed up on the table, you win. The last person remaining would put his palms together and the others would slap his hands. Sometimes, the slaps broke into a fight.
This was like a race but with tyres. Find old tyres, slap the tyres from behind and run against your opponents until you reach the finish line. Sometimes, a stick or twisted metallic hanger is used as steering.
Mineral Cork Ball
It’s either football or counter ball for most of the boys. A football pitch is drawn with chalk on a surface, the St. Louis sugar packet was the goal post and the cork of soda bottles were the football players. Just like a normal football game, two teams are involved and they flick the corks until they can score.
I Call On
A competitive game where everyone takes a name or colour and wait until they are called. This game though interesting, built adrenaline as you have to be ready to run as far as you can once your name was called on until you hear stop. If the caller caught up on you, you replace the caller or lose a point depending on how the group wants to play the game.
Depending on the type of ground, someone would draw about six squares with chalk, rock or use sticks to draw horizontal and vertical lines. The game begins with each player taking turns to jump in the boxes with one leg and seeds placed behind their palms. If a player can finish each box without touching a line or missing a box, they will buy a house and the player with the highest number of houses wins.
Police and Thief
This was an imitation of action movies. Most people wanted to be the thief/to be caught so the number of thieves outnumbered the number of police/people who wanted to catch the bad guys. The police had to run after the thieves and capture them.
Lots of girls played this game. The interesting parts about the game were the different styles made while skipping the rope and when two people skipped the rope. There were other groups of girls either lined up waiting to skip or cheering the skippers on.
The aim was to knock your opponent’s pen off the table with your pen. All you had to do was flick your pen with your fingers so it hits your opponent’s. Players took turns hitting each other’s pen until their opponent’s pen falls off the table. Some players went as far as customizing their pen; using rubber as a ring on their pen so it would serve as a grip but all the game required was skills.
If You Are Born In
One of the games that excited children because of the personal factor it wielded. Everyone formed a large circle clapping and singing ‘If you are born in *insert month*, stand up and dance. All who were born in the month mentioned come to the middle of the circle and dance. The months are usually mentioned in chronological order beginning from January to December. The game had children anticipating the mention of their birth month and the dance step they would pull when their turn came.
Girls stood facing each other, clapping their hands and lifting their legs rhythmically. During the game, each girl aimed to ensure that she does not lift the same leg directly facing her partner, meaning she has to lift the right leg if her partner lifts the left leg. If a girl raises the same leg as the girl facing her, the other girl earns a point.