A game in Kenya

Boys_Playing_MarblesPhotos by André-Henri Dargelas

Boys Playing Marbles
Photos by André-Henri Dargelas

Level 1

It is one year ago. I go to a city called Kakamega.
This city is in western Kenya.

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Work in Kenya

I am going to teach teachers.
English is a third language for children in Kenya.
Another woman from the U.S. comes, too.
We are retired teachers. We are both volunteers.
We have ideas for teaching English to children.
We plan our lessons together.
We have a lot of fun.
Our students have fun, too.

After school
After teaching one day, I hear voices outside.
Four boys are playing near my door.
“What are they doing?” I ask myself.
I open the door and watch.

A game
The boys are playing with small rocks.
They shout. They get very excited.
They move here. They move there.
It looks like marbles!
Marbles is a game with small glass balls.
When I was seven, I played marbles
on the road near my school.

Shopping for “marbles”
The next day I go shopping.
I ask a man, “Do you sell marbles?”
He does not know the word “marbles”. We laugh.
I show him with my hands.
“Ohhhhh… ‘bantha’,” he says.
“Ban – ta,” I say to him.

A gift
The marbles are two cents each. I buy ten.
Two for each boy and two extras.
The boys are very happy. The game starts.

Playing bantha
One hand is the shooter.

Your thumb stays on the ground.

Choose a finger. Push a marble under that finger.
Then pull the finger back, back, back.

Then let go!
Your finger is like a catapult.
The marble flies!
You try to hit another marble.
Rogers is the oldest boy.
He spells “bantha” for me.
He says it slowly. “Bee – eh – en – tee – haych -ehhhh.”
I smile. I say thank you in Swahili.
“Asante,” I say.
I love the sound of Kenyan English.