Field Day, Africa-Style

I remember having a Field Day at the end of every school year–outdoor fun and competition all day long. Frankly, not my favorite day, because I’m far from athletic, but still–it was fun being outside with friends and not stuck behind a desk.

Yesterday was what I called our “Field Day–Africa-Style.” It started with us dragging our beans out to dry on a big tarp first thing in the morning. We’re waiting until the pods are completely dry so we can beat them with a stick and get all the beans out. We tried some yesterday and found that they were still too wet. Well, several of our smaller kids decided that they wanted to shell beans by hand–it was “fun!” Not to leave them to their own devices, I jumped in to help. Next thing I knew, a few of their regular playmates were called in to help. Here we are (and as you can see by the photo, our oldest, Isaiah, on the far left, wasn’t one of the ones who thought hand-shelling beans was “fun”):

shelling beans

Of course, after we had been working for about an hour, the children went off to play kati (the African version of Monkey in the Middle). The littles commandeered the swing set. Eventually I heard cries of “Ume kufa!” (“You’re dead!”), indicating that the game had morphed into their version of freeze-tag. By noon I figured no one would be going home, so I started making beans and rice for a crowd. Mama Manu, who helps me with laundry, finished up that task and offered to beat the beans. She said they don’t wait until all the beans are dry–they beat them every day to get out what’s ready, then leave the remaining pods and do them again the next day. I don’t say “no” when someone offers that kind of help, so she went to work. Of course, her daughters (who had been playing) got called in to help clean the chaff off the beans after they were beaten. (Wish I had gotten a picture of Enoch (age 2) “helping” Mama Manu with his big bamboo stick!)

Mama Manu, hard at work
Mama Manu, hard at work
Little girls "helping"
Little girls “helping”

After the beans were cleaned off and set out to dry, most of the kids went on a “treasure hunt” of sorts, gleaning the piles for coveted “zebra beans”–they have a pretty, black-and-white swirl but were very rare in our harvest.

How many zebras do you have?
How many zebras do you have?

Then lunch, for two adults and 19 children, followed up by dish-washing on the veranda.


Then, more play! Jubilee and Enoch had to go in for a nap, but the rest of the little kids hit the swings once again and the big kids decided to set up for volleyball.


Volleyball net, take one: FAIL. Can’t see through it…oops.
That’s better…

Mama Manu went home shortly after lunch, but the kids stayed on for volleyball. Our neighbor’s boy, Eliya, ended up coming over and was boasting so much about his fame as a player that the game ended up being Eliya vs. Everyone Else. I never did find out who won, though. Eventually the little ones got tired of sitting in the sun, so Micah set up his watercolor paints on the shady veranda and the fun continued:


I kicked all the kids out at about 4:00, after a long day of work and fun. And there you have it, our first “Field Day,” Africa-style!