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Traditional Games in Morocco

Instructor: Brittney Clere

Brittney, a National Board Certified Teacher, has taught social studies at the middle school level for 15 years.

Soccer, golf, and tennis are games you can find played all over the world, even in Morocco. Do you know any traditional games Moroccan's play that are unique to their culture? In this lesson, we will look at a few.

Moroccan Games

If you traveled across the country of Morocco in Northwestern Africa, you would see four unique landscapes. These include the fertile valleys of the Atlas Mountains, the hills of the Rif region, the clean beaches overlooking the Mediterranean, and the traditional Berber villages of the Sahara.

With such a diverse and beautiful landscape, it shouldn't be surprising that the people of Morocco like to spend a lot of their free time outdoors. From trekking, camel riding, snowboarding, and windsurfing, Moroccans take full advantage of the terrain. This is also true for the children, who often head outside to play some of the more traditional games, such as Dinifri, Kick and Catch, and Ronda.

Dinifri

Have you ever played Jenga: the game where players pull and stack small wooden blocks on top of each other until the tower falls? The Moroccan game Dinifri is similar, but a little bit more complex. Instead of using a table like in Jenga, this game is played on a court.

Using chalk, a square court measuring at least one meter is drawn on the ground. Smaller squares are drawn within the original square; one in each corner, and one in the middle. Traditionally, the game is played with five flat pieces of stone, but wooden blocks or anything that can be stacked on top of each other will also work. The stacking is accomplished in the center square.

Each team has to have a rolled up cardboard bat or baton, and will get five chances to throw the baton to knock the stones over. If they succeed, they become the attackers and the other team becomes the defenders. The attackers first race to the center square to gather the stones and then race to the corner squares, placing one stone in each. If they achieve this goal, they win.

Sounds easy, right? Well, not completely because while the attackers are placing the stones, the defenders get to throw the baton at them! It makes sense that the baton is cardboard now, doesn't it? An attacker gets eliminated from the game if they are hit by a baton. If the defending team can get all five of the attackers out of the game before they place their stones in each square, the defenders win instead!

There is another version of this game that's popular in Africa, called Khamsa Hjira. In this case, a soft rubber ball is used instead of the baton (for knocking the stones down and tagging players out); the objective and rules are the same.

Kick and Catch

Kick and catch: sounds simple enough, right? Well, at least the rules are. A designated person starts the game by kicking a rag ball into the air, while two teams try to catch it. The player that catches the ball kicks it up and over the head of the other players. They will need to make sure to aim the rag ball at one of their teammates though because the winner is the team that can make ten catches before the other team steals it away.

Ronda

Not all of Morocco's traditional games have to be played outside. Ronda, for example, has some similarities to the card game ''Go Fish'', but with a lot more variables. In fact, too many to address in this one lesson, but let's at least cover the basics.

The game is for two players or two pairs. The dealer gives each player three cards for the first hand. He then puts four more cards face up on the table. On each turn, a player will place one card face up on the table. If the card matches one from the dealer's row of four, the player gets to take that card and place them as matching pair in front of him. This is called capturing.

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