Tim Hull‘s wonderful videos on children’s games from different countries were made to support the work of the international play organization Right To Play.
Ampe is still a very popular game for girls (and a few boys too) everywhere in Ghana.  It’s a combination of a good physical workout, social bonding and strategy.
In addition to his short film (about 15 minutes) on the energetic Ghanaian game of ampe (AM-pay),  Tim’s Globaltimoto journey in search of games around the world showcases children at play in other African countries like  Morocco, Namibia and Mali.
Detailed notes on the game are here.  The film is particularly interesting because it includes an oral history of the game.
Teams of girls from Kwamoso Junior Secondary School are featured in a mini-league tournament of ampe.
It includes an explanation of the rules, some strategies for winning, and a demonstration which ends with 15 year-old Sandra Ampofoah of Mampong-Akuapem emerging as the excited overall champion.
Sandra explains that it’s a matter of studying patterns of play, anticipating your opponent, making snap decisions and having very quick reflexes.
100 year-old Madam Rose Animah and 88 year-old Madam Elizabeth Kyei are the real stars of the film.  They relive their glory days as champions of the game when it was a serious competitive sport between the ampe “companies” of several villages.
In the “old days”, crowds of spectators would come to watch the tournaments, which could go on for as long as two or three days.  There was even a special dress code, designed to give plenty of room for jumping and throwing out your feet!
Today ampe is a schoolyard and children’s playground activity rather than a community event, but it has survived, unlike many of the “ancient games” lamented by Rose Animah and Elizabeth Kyei.

ampe game CFerber photostream

Primary School children playing ampe. CFerber Photostream on flickr

What You Can Do
Tim Hull’s global journey to find, observe and document games continues.  You can make a donation here.