Slapping the ground with nxai

Off we go: A nxai game underway PIC: BTSGC
Off we go: A nxai game underway PIC: BTSGC

Once sprouts from certain wild plants start blossoming in the thickets, after a good rainy season, the boys’ time to play will be ripe. Mmegi Staffer RYDER GABATHUSE reminisces about the boys’ popular native game known as nxai or rwabi in the vernacular

The flowering of the trees that surely attract butterflies and insects generally announces the open season for the boys’ native games, which depend on the availability of certain select species of trees.

A hawk-eyed rural boy would be able to quickly spot usable offshoots from mainly Moretlwa and Mogwana trees in particular, from their early flowering stages. These are plants that produce sturdy sticks for the boys’ game known as nxai or rwabi, which is very popular with herd boys whilst shepherding the stock in the scrublands. In the native games, nxai’s objective is to throw and slap the ground with a prepared stick such that it bounces up and forward and as far as possible. The best-thrown stick from a predetermined area has to go further than its competition. For a good thrower, nxai will rise like a taxiing Boeing 747 before taking full flight into the air and finally landing like a well-thrown javelin, pushing its way further and further. The hissing noise of a thrown nxai really depicts the creativity of a human mind. It is diametrically intentional. It really leaves one wonder-struck as to what could have gone through the mind of man when such a game was invented. It is simple to imagine but difficult to play. It takes a lot of effective practice for one to excel in the game played out in the open and preferably on a sandy area with fewer vegetation.

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