Nyunga: A clay figurine traditional game of the Kalanga ethinc group of Zimbabwe

  • M.P.D Gundani
  • D Makaza
  • E.M Tapera
  • L.O Amusa
  • M Banda
Keywords: Nyunga, Ndale, Changamala, clay figurine, indigenous sport and game, recreation activity, Kalanga people.


This article describes a traditional game in Zimbabwe, with special reference to nyunga, a clay figurine throwing game that is indigenous to the Kalanga speaking people of Masendu, Zimbabwe. The Kalanga are a part of an ethnic group, which has its origin closely linked to the Shona ethnic group and constitute the people and language, which is spoken in South western parts of Zimbabwe in Bulilima and Mangwe Districts. Linguistically and culturally, they belong to the main Karanga tribe of Zimbabwe. Today they are linked to the Ndebele; an ethnic group, which took over their land in the mid-nineteenth century.Data for this study were collected from a sample of the Kalanga people in the district of Bulilima, a dichotomy of two districts, Bulilima and Mangwe in the west of Zimbabwe. The information on nyunga were sought through focus group discussions and individual interviews. The interviews were then followed by demonstrations of the game by villagers who were mostly the surrogates of Kalanga culuture. Observations, visual recordings and audio recordings assisted in capturing the skills, techniques and game patterns. The analysis of the game showed that nyunga is mostly a boys’ game, played in summer in rivers, at pools and ponds. Players used conically/cylindrically shaped clay figurines. The aim of the game is to cause the clay figurine make a smooth trajectory until it hits the water surface with the tapered end thus creating small splashes and ripples. The game has resemblances with ndale/changamala played by the Chewa/Ngoni of Malawi. Competence is premised on power, skill and technique, from which, nyunga/ndale can be classified as a game of physical skill. Quantitative and qualitative research methods were triangulated to verify and authenticate the information. It was concluded that the game has a lot of merit and can be easily introduced as recreational and leisure resorts with little costs.

Key words: Nyunga, Ndale, Changamala, clay figurine, indigenous sport and game, recreation activity, Kalanga people.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2411-6939