June 27, 2010
I want to take this opportunity to welcome Ian Mcrea aka Kwabena to the Oware Canada and Oware Africa in the Classroom team. Just last week Kwabena took the initiative to set up a hastily planned meeting at Driftwood Public School in the City of Toronto. In his excitement around the possibility of getting Oware into this school he had me doing a one hour presentation in the space of 7 minutes - during recess time. For those of you who are teachers in the classroom I know how you crave those few minutes break from your students to pull yourself together before going back to class. To have an unexpected presenter was not the most welcomed thing even though the few teachers present in the staff room were very pleasant. Just before the first bell rang for the teachers to return to their duty they got up and apologized as they walked out on me. Two teachers however stayed behind a little longer as they did not have a class to go to right away. They listened attentively as I continued to present the merits of my product. After leaving them we proceeded to the office to meet with the principal. At the time the principal was walking with someone I recognized and know for more than 25 years. I invited her to join in on our meeting. She was familiar with the game and even obtained an Oware board when she had travelled to Ghana. She did not know how to play and neither did the principal. The opportunity could not have been more perfect for me to teach and old friend, the school's vice principal and the principal at the same time. So Kwabena and I got down to the business of delivering the rules of the game. We spent more than half an hour together with commitments being made on both sides. The Principal has committed to setting up a meeting in September where Kwabena would be able to introduce the game to a larger group of principals. Kwabena, on behalf of MACPRI , has offered to do some in school sessions to train the teacher how to use the game and apply it to their lesson planning. While I was unable to lock in a sale with the principal the meeting turned out to be very positive and promising...
Saturday June 26, I attended the 3rd Annual Knowledge Fest at Knowledge Bookstore in Brampton Ontario. As usually it was my job to teach and entertain young and old alike with Oware. It was a very raining day and many people did not come out, so in addition to poor sales I did not have a lot of people to teach. Melissa and Stacey were my first two plays. I had them sit across from each other and I taught them as they played. Stacey caught on to the game a little quicker than Melissa. I did not believe that Melissa was unable to understand the concepts of the game but she appeared to have approached the game as being more difficult to understand that it was. Once she understood the basic concept she became very comfortable in her zone and the competition began. You could only imagine the intensity on Stacey's face once she saw that Melissa was now ready to give her a serious challenge. Yes, I was happy to walk away and go and look at the Ghana verses USA games as two more people were now able to play Oware with out me. (Ghana won 2:1).
The second group I played with was a mother and son - another Melissa and her son Tarhik. Tarhik had learned the game before from one of my colleagues and has come out to my event to get a refresher before teaching his friends. I played a couples of games with Tarhik, Oware (Abapa) and Mancala and then Oware again. After finishing the third game with Tarhik (15), I asked him to teach a 7 year old boy how to play. Before leaving the Bookstore Tarhik challenged his mother to a game and bet her. It was a sweet ending to the day for me when Tarhik told his mother "I will play you again when I get home." This is just one example of how the great game, a socially engaging activities can help to increase the bonding time between family members. The game is not only got for schools and classrooms, but great for homes and communities as well.
On Saturday June 19 I attended the Annual Driftwood Festival. On this day I thought Oware to children from many cultural backgrounds. I remember the little Chinese girl called Eva who sat in her mother's embrace as she heard the instruction from me in English and the mother translated to her in Chinese. They decided on the moves together before playing. They played the game from start to finished and then politely got up thanked me and walked away. I had 3 Somali children who came back every 20 or so minutes to play and every time they came the brought a new friend. I thought so many different people at the Driftwood Festival including MP Judy Sgro. But the most exciting memory for me of this day's Oware session was that even Elmo - you know the children's cartoon character Tickle Me Elmo? Yes even he was fascinated by the game and instead of doing his job playing with the children, he was rather watching them play Oware. I am not kidding, I have the picture to prove it.
I will be going to the Canada Day Celebration at Amesbury Park on Thursday to continue the Oware Canada Campaign and to sell my "Made in Africa"art. I will update you.
That all for now.