Feature: Zambian children embrace sports amid power cuts-Xinhua

Feature: Zambian children embrace sports amid power cuts

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-06-15 18:54:00

LUSAKA, June 15 (Xinhua) -- It is 12:00 noon time and 11-year- old Zanele Mbewe, a resident of Northgate Gardens in Lusaka, Zambian's capital, has just come back from school.

After completing her homework, Zanele will head next door to play Nsolo, a simpler form of chess. She will also participate in other traditional and indigenous games with other children. This has been her routine for the past five days.

"This week, electricity goes off at 5:00 in the morning. It is restored around 5 p.m.," she explained while looking at the power rationing timetable from Zambian's national electricity supply company, ZESCO, stuck on the door of the refrigerator in her household.

As homes and communities endure more than 10 hours of power cuts each day, children in Zambia are finding themselves with a newfound opportunity to engage in traditional indigenous games, replacing hours spent in front of television sets and other electronic devices.

For years, children in Zambia's urban areas, like in many other parts of the world, have been drawn to screens, spending hours in front of TVs, computer, phones and gaming devices. However, the power cuts have forced them to find alternative ways to entertain themselves, leading to a resurgence in traditional and indigenous games.

In the densely populated community of Mandevu compound, on the northern side of Lusaka city, children can be seen playing a variety of games such as skipping rope, hopscotch, and tag, which were once part of the daily routine of previous generations.

"Before the power rationing started, children were always indoors, glued to their screens watching TV or playing video games. Now, with the lack of electricity for several hours each day, they have turned to playing traditional games," Herald Kakomai, 62, a senior citizen residing in Mandevu compound.

He noted also that the lack of electricity has compelled children in his neighborhood to engage in different sporting activities, building relationships that go beyond the virtual world.

Justine Nyirenda, a traditional and indigenous sports promoter, asserted that the electricity rationing currently going on in Zambia has unintentionally encouraged a return to age-old pastimes that encourage teamwork, creativity, and physical activity, where were often overlooked in a digitally dominated world.

Nyirenda, who heads Kombolani, an indigenous sports association, further asserted that the resurgence of traditional and indigenous games has allowed children to connect with Zambia's cultural heritage and learn about traditions that have been passed down from previous generations.

"These games not only provide entertainment, but also serve as a way for children to connect with their roots and foster a sense of pride in their cultural identity," he said.

Interactions with different members of the public indicated that the decrease in screen time has also resulted in children becoming more physically active, decreasing sedentary behavior, and increasing their overall health and well-being.

Electricity rationing in Zambia has often been necessitated by low water levels at the Kariba Dam, a key hydroelectricity generation point for the country. The low water levels at the said dam are caused by insufficient rainfall and drought situations.

Zambian's Minister of Energy Peter Kapala said in a statement in May 2024 that the Kariba Dam power station is producing only 166 megawatts out of the installed capacity of 1,080 megawatts, a situation that has seen communities going without electricity for more than 10 hours in a day.

While the lack of access to electricity has posed challenges for households and businesses, it has created opportunities for children to embrace age-old games that were once at risk of being forgotten. As children across the country trade the glow of screens for the warmth of community interaction, the positive ripple effects of this unexpected situation will continue to serve as a silver lining to Zambian's power cuts.