• Eunice Stoltz

Fun and Games

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

On the Cape Flats, it’s the inventive manner in which toys and games are crafted that caught my lens' attention.

Sunshine after a few consecutive days of rain in Cape Town carries the promise of a day outside on the streets enjoying games of various sorts. Walking through the streets of Elsies River and Manenberg, both informal suburbs in Cape Town, the air has an ambiance of playfulness as children and adults bask in the brilliance of a cloudless day.

Chadwin Abrahams (15) and Nathaniel James (13) riding on their scooters in Epping Forest, Elsies River

Chadwin Abrahams (15) and Nathaniel James (13) riding on their scooters in Epping Forest, Elsies River

It’s a regular sight to see children on the Flats riding wooden scooters. Both 15-year-old Chadwin Abrahams and 13-year-old Nathaniel James can swiftly move side-ways and easily do an air jump with their self-made scooters. Chadwin explains that only three elements are needed to build the scooter:

“Trolley wheels, wood, and nails”.

In some instances, older boys build their own scooters while in the case with young Liam (seen in the photo underneath), his father helped him build his. It is up to the young owners to decide how their scooters will be pimped. Chadwin explains his scooter carriers the Rastafarian symbol “Lion of Judah”, while Liam’s scooter reminds you more of a 4x4 with its Toyota-sign in front.

Both boys and girls enjoy riding a scooter.

If you feel the streets offer a limited playground, the sky is another option. Well-known for its high-speed wind conditions Cape Town offers the perfect opportunity to fly kites. Using plastic bags, sticks, and thread, children as young as 5-years-old can make and fly a kite.

A young boy who is holding up its small kite in Manenberg.

More often than not you will see while driving on the N2 or R300 kites gliding high above the suburbs next to the freeways, carefully steered by a child, reaching towards the skies.

If you are taller than a tabletop and can handle a cue stick you can also compete in a game of Carrom.

Men gather outside to enjoy a game of Carrom in Manenberg.

More commonly described as finger pool, the game Carrom is a popular board game in Manenberg. Slightly different than the original game played with one's finger, the participants playing Carrom in Manenberg use a cue stick to move the striker, in order to sink the smaller coins, called carrom-men.

The street is set as a gambling table for young men joining in a game of ‘dowwel'.

Streets sometimes serve as a gambling table. It’s a common sight to see young men gathering in small and often large groups to gamble, or locally called ‘dowwel’. Many times these groups disperse when a fight between the participants breaks out, exposing the underlining insecurities and challenges these young men face on a daily basis.

Like gamble, the outcome of a beautiful sunlit day on the Cape Flats is unpredictable. Fun and games can abruptly change into screams and running children as gunfire fills the air, announcing yet another gang fight.

Less than 3 kilometers away from where 15-year-old Chadwin Abrahams and 13-year-old Nathaniel James were riding on their wooden scooters an 18-year-old teenager was gunned down in Leonsdale on Saturday, the 4th July.

In Manenberg, less than a day later on 5th July, an 11-year-old boy has been shot and wounded in his leg while playing outside.