A final greeting from our volunteers in Congo-Brazzaville
Our volunteers, Nils and Sture, at the sports school in Congo-Brazzaville are now back home in Sweden. Before returning home, they spent a few weeks at our sister school in Kimpese, which is located on the other side of the Congo River in Congo-Kinshasa. At that school, Nils tried the dance sport nzango.
“It’s Tuesday afternoon at the sports school in Kimpese, and as usual, the social activities are followed by sports. On Tuesdays, in addition to beach volleyball and basketball, nzango is also on the schedule.
Nzango translates best to “foot game” and originated in the northern parts of Congo-Brazzaville. The sport is supposed to have been invented by girls, and from its birth up to today the sport has exclusively female practitioners.
Nzango is played on a field that measures 16×8 meters. Two teams with eleven players each are lined up along the sides with their noses facing each other.
Points, or “feet” as they call it, are won by beating their opponent, and how this plays out depends on which team you belong to. Nzango is a wonderful mix of gymnastics, dance, traditional singing and good old luck. The game starts with a rhythmic song where the members of both teams sing and clap their hands to the song. Then a player from each team steps forward to face off in a duel. At some point in the song, the two players jump into the air, and when they, synchronized with the song, land again they stretch out one foot each. If they stretch out the same foot, (left, left or right, right), one of the team wins the duel and gets a “foot” (point). If they stretch out different feet (left, right or right, left) the other team wins. The player who wins the duel continues, and then face a new player from the other team. Nzango is played in two halves of 25 minutes each. The half-game rest is ten minutes, and at the end of the match, the team that has won most “feet” wins.
Back to Tuesday where nzango, after an initial warm-up, started. Initially, I stood by the side and watched the game progress, but I was almost immediately asked to participate. “Well, why not?” I thought, and jumped in. Although I didn’t know the songs that were sung and clapped, I quickly adapted to the game and I even managed to win some duels. Just as in the game “Rock, paper, scissors” luck plays a crucial role, but which sport doesn’t depend on a certain degree of luck?
I was very impressed by the girls ability to sing, dance, clap their hands and at the same time stretch out one leg. My mental capacity was fully occupied by the jump and the subsequent leg kick”.
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