Learning Strategy and Tactics through Games

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On 21 July, the eve of the end of 2022 Winter School, Khanya College conducted a variety of games traditionally played by the working class in South Africa. “The point is to learn about strategy and tactics”, said Searatoa van Driel of Khanya. The words ‘strategy and tactics’ are said a lot in various fields, such as sports. These terms are originally used in the military; they are now applied widely. Likewise, in the social justice movement, these words have come into use and the activist cadre needs to understand what they mean and where they apply.

The games played during the session were ‘mgusha’ facilitated by Puseletso Lebyana; ‘skop die bal’ facilitated by Bongiwe Mtanda; ‘walk and drift’ facilitated by Lerato Tala; ‘Blindfold Lead’ facilitated by Naobi Dube and ‘Tins’ facilitated by Carmelicia Erasmus, all from Khanya College. ‘Mgusha’ is a game played using an elastic fabric made from pantyhose, which is called ‘amagusha’ in the township. The players divided themselves into teams, and the others ‘fill’ by standing stationary with the gusha string around the knees of the stationary participants. The playing team has to jump into the string, sometimes forming ties, and a scissor. As they advance, the string goes up until the neck after which the string is raised above the head level. Teams need to select the best jumper, the tallest one, and the one who is good at jumping or is tallest but can coordinate their jump as required.

Skop die bal and tins are similar games played with cans originally made of tin. In skop die bal the tins are crashed into flat disk-like shapes. The players have to duck a ball shot at them while they scoop the tins into a box. Mtanda who was facilitating the game reminded the participants that the game was used to keep the children occupied during the struggle against apartheid. In tins, the tins are in good shape and need to be stacked from the biggest to the smallest. They do this while ducking a ball again.

In the blindfold, the participants were paired. One was blindfolded, being led by another participant who has sight but is carrying an egg balanced on a spoon. They had to weave their way through targets and skip over some. The participants had one of their legs tied to the other as they worked their way to the goal. In the final game, participants had to coordinate their movements such that they do not collide as some started from one end and progressed to the other. Dube said that the game was meant to test leadership.

All the games highlighted the importance of teamwork, coordination, trust, communication etc, which are all the necessary strategies needed for organisations.

This article was submitted as part of the Imbila Yesu publication produced daily for the duration of the Winter School in 2022 (17-22 July 2022). It appeared in Edition No. 1, released on 22 July 2022.

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