CHILDHOOD GAMES: KENNETJIE

Does anyone play kennetjie (meaning ‘little chin’) anymore? I am not aware of my children ever playing it and I haven’t seen children playing the game in camp sites anywhere. Have grassed / bricked / paved school grounds ‘blocked’ opportunities for playing, or has kennetjie lost out to the allure of computer games? Two sticks and a hole in the ground is all that is required for a lot of fun.

I loved playing kennetjie as a primary school child. While I have seen it played as a team game, I regularly played kennetjie in the dirt road below our house with a boy from my class, who lived just below it. We would make a trench in the hard ground about 3cm deep and 15cm long and choose the two sticks very carefully: a short one of about 100mm long and about 25mm thick, which is known as the kennetjie, and a long straight one, about half a metre in length, to use as a bat. If we had particularly good ones, we would leave them at the side of the road and hope they would still be there to play with the next afternoon. Johan and I would play until his mother called him home to wash his hands for supper, then I would rush up the stone steps and wooden stairs to wash my hands before my father got home from work.

To begin the game the first player places the kennetjie across the middle of the hole in the ground. The tip of the long stick is placed in the hole and the player now flicks the kennetjie as far as possible. Of course we were only two playing the game, so if Johan caught the kennetjie it would be his turn to bat.

If he couldn’t catch it, he could try to throw it towards the long stick to try and hit it in order to bat. Failing that, I would hold the long stick in my hand, gripping it between my thumb and forefinger, and place the kennetjie on my hand to form a cross.  I would then flip the kennetjie into the air and try to hit it away as far as possible with the long stick.

Essentially, one has to defend the hole by hitting the kennetjie while it is still airborne when the fielder throws it towards the hole. I am quoting the rest of the complicated rules from http://gonecamping.co.za/index.php/camping/entertainment/kennetjie:

Regardless if the batsman could hit the kennetjie or not, after an attempt by a field worker to hit the hole, the following applies for Right handed players and is inverted for Left handed players:

  1. If the kennetjie is within one stick length of the hole, the batsman is out and the field worker who did the trick, is the new batsman. If in the actions that follows hereafter, the batsman misses the kennetjie, he is out.
  2. Within two stick lengths (Voetjie): The kennetjie is placed on the toes of the left foot, flipped in the air and hit with the bat.
  3. Within three stick lengths (Tip-Top): The kennetjie is held with the left hand and must be flipped in the air with the long stick and hit as far away as possible.
  4. Within four stick lengths (Bokhoringkie): The kennetjie is placed on the ring finger and thumb flipped in the air and hit with the bat.
  5. Within five stick lengths (Elmbogie): The kennetjie is placed on the elbow of the left arm, flipped in the air and hit with the bat.
  6. Within six stick lengths (Ogie): The kennetjie is placed on the left eye, flipped in the air and hit with the bat.
  7. Within seven stick lengths (Oortjie): The kennetjie is placed on the left ear, flipped in the air and hit with the bat.
  8. Within eight stick lengths (Kennetjie): The kennetjie is placed on the chin, flipped in the air and hit with the bat.
  9. Within nine stick lengths or more: The batsman gets and extra life. The player with the most lives wins and a live can be used to play again if he is out.

If the batsman drops the kennetjie in any of the above moves, the field worker who made the last throw, becomes the batsman.

I am grateful to the above mentioned site and those below for enriching my memories and reminding me some of the complicated rules of the game.

https://shadleyfataarwriter.com/2017/10/09/the-games-we-played-2-kennetjie-6min-read/

http://www.capetownkid.co.za/blog/entry/kennetjie-a-south-african-game/

10 thoughts on “CHILDHOOD GAMES: KENNETJIE

    • It was great fun, although some schools banned it from being played because flying sticks were probably considered dangerous. It is a game that has lost traction in these days of digital attractions – like hopscotch!

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  1. This is fascinating. I remember children playing just such a game (I have played too!) when I was still in school. Parents weren’t too fond of the game and discouraged children especially after the stick hit a kid in the eye. We called it ‘kuttiyum kolum’ 🙂 Have not seen children playing it in a long long time.

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