Ta Ndimbu

The Congo is home  to many ethnic groups and many of their indigenous sports were documented by various missionaries especially between 1878 and 1914. Karl Laman was a Swedish missionary who resided in the Congo from 1891-1919. While there he wanted to record the indigenous Congolese and their customs faithfully.So, he provided notebooks to the native christian instructors to go amongst the different ethnic groups to document their play.Most of the games are from the Basundi people and Ta ndimbu is one such game. It is a game played similar to rugby. Here the game is described by Karl Laman from his notes :


"Ball -throwing  is a very popular sport, played with an energy and vigour that leaves the players dripping with sweat. The ball is an unripe melon ,singed over a slow fire to soften it so that it will not crack to easily. The game is played  by the bigger boys or young men. The players assemble on a court and split up in two teams. The captains of the opposiing teams alternately select their favourite players, so that each team forms a mixture of good and bad players. Before the game starts, the rules are agreed upon. It is forbidden to trip up another  player or knock him down. It is also forbidden to hold an opponent or prevent  him by force from taking the ball. Often smaller boys are used to pick up the ball when it lands far away on the ground, and sometimes they will be allowed to take a turn in throwing the ball. The opposing teams mingle with each other, watching each other for an opportunity to take the ball. The player's know who is on their side and throw the ball to a member of their own team. One player may throw the ball straight up into the air and catch it again, bragging that no one can get it.Then suddenly a player from the opposing team jumps up and manages to catch the ball, which then passes to the other side. Inaccurate throwing, of course, makes it easy for the other side to get a hold of the ball, or else someone may rush out to intercept it before it reaches the player it is aimed at. The players dash all over the field, since the player throwing the ball and the one who is supposed to catch it are bent upon eluding their nearest opponents. The game  reaches its climax when one side manages to hang onto the ball for a long interval without dropping, it. Every now and then a player takes a tumble, which evokes boisterous merriment from the otherside.

source : The Kongo by Karl Laman, vol. 4, chapter 4, pg 10 , 1968

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