Segments in this Video

Wealth, Marriage, and Fighting Traditions in Ethiopia (04:02)


In Ethiopia, the wealth of a man is measured by the number of cows and wives he has. To marry, a man must also fight at least once. Men of the Surma people engage in the donga, ritualized stick-fighting.

Gender Roles in Ethiopia (04:22)

Surma men and women live in different worlds. Men's lives revolve around their cattle, and women's around the home and family. Cows are the true coin of local currency. Women may be taken by force or exchanged as "peace" offerings.

Marriageability Traditions in Ethiopia (02:41)

Before they are married, most Surma women insert clay plates in their lower lips to make them expand. The larger the expansion, the more valuable the woman is. Young men prove their marriageability through stick-fighting.

Options for Young, Surma Men (02:47)

A young Surma man attends a mission school to learn to read and write his own language. Some young men dream of moving to Addis Ababa for work.

Ethiopian Tradition vs. Modern Weaponry (04:52)

A saturation of arms and weaponry in Surma has caused a breakdown in the social order. Men now have the power of death that they did not have before. Witch doctors prepare young men for their first official stick fight.

Ritualized Resolution of Problems (04:07)

As young men prepare for stick-fighting to prove their marriageability, Surma women prepare a beer drink for the men who will fight. The entire village engages in ritualized practices, such as body painting, on the day of the donga, or stick fight.

Senegal Wrestling Tradition (04:30)

In Dakar, Senegal, wrestling is the king of sports. Senegalese men enthusiastically engage in wrestling, an ancient village tradition that has moved into the city.

Competitive Traditions in Diverse Populations (03:40)

Weekly wrestling matches in the Sudanese melting pot of Khartoum accomplish a sense of cohesion, rather than confrontation, among the diverse populations of the country. In Tima, Niger, Tuareg camel races are symbols of communal unity and strength.

Adult and Children's Play in Africa (03:28)

Africans recycle metals to make toys for children throughout the continent. Children use their imaginations for play, seldom experiencing Western-type boredom. Movement and art in Africa provides a look into the interior of each person.

Sorcery in Ghanaian Sports (04:48)

The majority of football (soccer) players and teams engage in voodoo sessions to improve their performance. Young teams and traditional teams have different training regimens.

Supernatural Influences and Sports Performance (04:40)

Even Christian football (soccer) players in Ghana consult a sorcerer prior to games. They ask for protection, courage, and superior athletic abilities. The outcome of a game is "determined" by the strength of opposing teams' witch doctors.

Witch Doctors: Tools of the Trade (06:28)

Witchdoctors in Ghana buy their materials for their spells at the witch-doctor market. A witch doctor explains his craft. While soccer players take the field, the teams' witch doctors work their magic out of sight.

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More Than Just a Game: Competitions and Celebrations in Ethiopia, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, and Sudan

Part of the Series : The Call of Africa: The Voice of a Continent
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



In sub-Saharan Africa, traditionally minded people view everything as being touched by the supernatural—including what might seem, to Western eyes, to be simply athletic or recreational activities. This program explains the deeper meaning of the donga, ritualized stick-fighting bouts of the Surma culture; sacred Senegalese wrestling, an ancient village tradition that has met with immense enthusiasm in the city; weekly wrestling matches in the Sudanese melting pot of Khartoum, rituals of cohesion rather than confrontation; Tuareg camel races, symbols of communal unity and strength; the plentiful music and dancing that accompanies African festivals; and soccer, which in Ghana involves the spells of sorcerers. (Portions in other languages with English subtitles, 51 minutes)

Length: 52 minutes

Item#: BVL39457

ISBN: 978-1-60467-367-8

Copyright date: ©2004

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.