Hopscotch Finds Its Roots in Africa

Traditions unknowingly hold fast in the Black culture. One such tradition is the schoolyard game of Hopscotch!

This game, once played in slave quarters, slipped through the cracks of slavery and has embedded itself into our society by way of our childhood.

Around the world, children have enjoy drawing grids on the sidewalk or on the ground and then jumping or hopping from one end of the grid to the other.  There are many different types of grids that are drawn. Some are squared,like the one in the photo. Others are round and curl in a circle. Still others are a large square with many small squares inside.

How to Play the Game 

Hopscotch has many variations. This is how it is played in South Africa. Find South Africa on your map. Player 1 stands in the semicircle and places a stone in the first rectangle. The player hops in on one foot and with the same foot kicks the stone to the second rectangle. The player continues doing this up the hopscotch without stopping. However, if the player does not hop, falls, or kicks the stone into the wrong area or outside the hopscotch, that turn is over. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. When a player is successful at reaching the semicircle above rectangle 4, she or he jumps into the semicircle and says “Ara-uru!” (Hoorah!), picks up their stone, and hops back down the hopscotch, landing with two feet on the opening semicircle. Then, with their back to the hopscotch, the player tosses the stone into it. A circle is drawn where the stone lands, if it lands on the hopscotch. No player may land on any part of that circle in future turns.

(Materials: stones and chalk OR masking tape to mark the hopscotch indoors)

Harlem Hopscotch by Maya Angelou 

One foot down, then hop!  It’s hot.

Good things for the ones that’s got.
Another jump, now to the left.
Everybody for hisself.
In the air, now both feet down.
Since you black, don’t stick around.
Food is gone, the rent is due,
Curse and cry and then jump two.

All the people out of work,
Hold for three, then twist and jerk.
Cross the line, they count you out.
That’s what hopping’s all about.

Both feet flat, the game is done.
They think I lost. I think I won.

One thought on “Hopscotch Finds Its Roots in Africa

  1. Pingback: Children’s games: Marco Polo | Notes from underground