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(Hello Africa) Zambian senior citizens play traditional indigenous game to keep minds sharp

In the bustling city of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, some elderly men have found a way to socialize and keep their minds sharp through the traditional indigenous game of Nsolo.

Nsolo is a game that has been enjoyed by children and adults for generations in Zambia. It is a mathematical game that has been likened to chess and is usually played by boys or men.

The game is played by scooping holes in the ground and using small stones or dry nuts as playing pieces. Two players scoop four rows of holes in the ground or on a raised surface and begin to play, while bystanders watch.

Today, elderly men, the majority of whom are retirees, constitute the majority of people that play the game of Nsolo.

Being in their golden years and with plenty of time on their hands, these men gather in public spaces just to play Nsolo.

For many of these senior citizens, playing Nsolo is an opportunity to relax and forget about the challenges that come with aging.

“Playing Nsolo brings back memories of my childhood and youth; it is a way to relive those happy times and connect with my beautiful past,” said Elias Banda, 69, from the Chawama compound.

The game also provides a way to socialize and engage with others who share their passion for traditional indigenous games and as well as a chance to connect with others.

“I consider it a great opportunity to build relationships with others. It has enabled me to stay connected with friends and meet new people,” explained Moses Malama, 73, a retired teacher from Matero Township.

Interactions with these men also revealed that to them, Nsolo is not only about being entertained but also a way to be sharp mentally. This is because the game requires focus, concentration, and quick reflexes, all of which are essential for keeping the mind active.

“One needs to think fast when playing Nsolo. You have to calculate your moves way ahead of your opponent. Just that helps to sharpen my thinking,” said James Mukandawire, 74, a former builder from Mandevu Compound.

Mukandawire and his peer Markson Zulu, 67, a culture specialist residing in Matero East, have been playing Nsolo for over three decades now. The game has become a regular activity that helps the duo to stay active and engaged with their community.

They noted that Nsolo is not just about winning but also about passing down traditional knowledge and skills to younger generations.

“We endeavor to keep our traditional indigenous games alive and pass them down to future generations and keep our culture and heritage alive by encouraging youth to play Nsolo,” Zulu stated. 

Source: Xinhuanet