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Toby Nwazor: 20 Top Childhood Games of the 80/90’s (that Kids Below 15 Cannot Identify With)



Most of the kids born in the past 15 years don’t have the slightest idea of what it really means to play. For their mind, life without cable TVs, DVDs, seasonal movies, PS3s, Tablets and sophisticated phones must have been boring.

I grew up without those, and No I wasn’t bored for a second. If you grew up in the 90’s or earlier than that, you will probably agree with me. The reason it wasn’t boring was because we equally had enough fun filled activities to keep us occupied.

Below are 20 of such games that children below 15 years may not readily identify with. If you enjoyed any of this, holler at me in the comment section.

  1. Suwe

This involves drawing a diagram that looks like a rectangular box divided into six parts. The major rule here is to make sure that your stone does not touch the line. So all we did was throw the stone to a particular part of the drawing and hop in and out until we end up ‘buying all the houses’.

2. Tinko

It involves touching your partner’s hand and clapping your hands together in a particular manner while singing a song. The ones I still remember are “tinko tinko tinkoliko”…and “nchichiri mgba”.

  1. Koso

This particular game involves spinning an object called ‘koso’ and using your hand to tackle it in such a way that it will land face down with its tail lifted in the air. Koso is built from pen covers and the plastic lids of torch batteries.

  1. Rubber Bands

This one had so many versions. My favourite version was the one where you hang some rubber bands on a nail/wood affixed to a wall, and try to disengage as many rubbers from the nail by firing it with another rubber.

  1. Cashew nuts

This game simply involves packing a number of cashew nuts in a particular circle and using a big/strong cashew nut (Kada) to stone the pack. Anyone you are able to get out of the circle becomes yours.

        6. Borex

Borex is a Nigerian version of skateboards. We built it with wood and tiny tyre-like metals that rolled and gave motion to the board as we rode.

  1. Hide and seek (boju boju).

This is one of the most popular games ever played. It involved having a group of children hide in different places. One person (catcher) goes around looking for people. The first person to be ‘caught’ becomes the catcher, and starts looking for other people to catch.

  1. Poppy-Yes

Here, we lightly tied someone’s eyes and then make the person look for the other kids. The kid with tied eyes calls out “Poppy”, and every other person responds by saying “Yes”. This gives him direction. He then follows the closest voice and tries to catch someone. Anyone he catches/touches becomes the next ‘poppy’.

  1. Ten Ten (Kiso)

We called it kiso, and it was mainly played by a minimum of two girls. They usually stand facing each other and try to clap their hands and move their legs at a particular rhythm. The important thing is to make sure that you do not do the same kind of leg gesture that the girl facing you does.

  1. Ayo

This is a wooden game with 12 round pits. Six are on each side containing four stones/seeds. The game involves picking the stones from a particular seed and distributing it from one pit to the other. Then with the last seed you pick the seeds in the next pit.

  1. Mud houses.

We usually poured wet mud/sand on our feet until the structure can stand. We would then remove our feet and start beautifying the new ‘house’.

  1. Cooking

This is a pretend game that usually involves getting old tins of milk/tea and pouring water and sand into them. It was usually played by a boy who plays ‘daddy’ and a girl who plays ‘mommy’. The goal is to pretend you are cooking. Grasses and flowers are usually used as vegetables here.

  1. Button/Mineral cork football

This game is played on the floor. Used mineral corks are the players, a button is the football, and the packet of St Louis sugar is built in such a way that it resembles a goal post. The goal is to use the cork to kick the button into your opponent’s goal post.

  1. Rolling tyre

Just get any old tyre and start pushing or slapping it from behind. You can bend in any direction you want and try to move at any speed you choose. This can be played alone or as a motor racing competition.

      15. Skipping Rope

There are so many versions of this game especially when you include the songs you sing and the styles you make while skipping the rope. It is always fun when played in groups.

     16. Wheels

Get the lid of any paint bucket or any other round object, and your wheel is ready. If you can get a metallic hangar and untwist it, that is your steering. Place the steering below the wheel and enjoy your ride.

  1. Willie Willie Willie Willie o

The high point of this game is when you start singing “Change your style”, “Another Style”, “Be like that, be like that”, “Change your style”.

  1. Football

I didn’t want to add this, but I just remembered that my little brother doesn’t know how to play football. The most popular version here is the ‘monkey post’. Just four players on each side is enough. We either used big stones or our slippers as the goal post.

Another version is the one we call O no n’etiti. Here, a group of several boys pass the ball to themselves while trying to dribble a boy who is usually in the centre. The important thing is to make sure the boy in the middle doesn’t touch the ball or dispossess you. If it happens, roles will be reversed.

  1. Catcher

A previously chosen person is the catcher. He runs after every other person, and whoever the catcher catches becomes the next catcher.

  1. Fire on the mountain.

This is played by a large group who usually sit in pairs and in a circle. All the children sing, “there is fire on the mountain, run run run…”, and one of each pair runs round the circle. They will all keep running until “the fire is up!”

At that point, every child will try and locate his/her partner. Any group that is ‘partner-less’ at the end is eliminated. This continues until the last group wins.

I haff try. Oya over to you! If you know say you play any of those games, tell us now. If there are some that I didn’t write here, please mention them too.

Watch this video of hand clapping games below:

Photo Credit: Dreamstime |  Takeisha Jefferson

Toby Nwazor is a free lance writer and motivational speaker who believes that life is meant to be lived and not just existed in. He is equally an entrepreneur with a lot of hands-on experience in business start-ups, marketing, and customer service. He passionately writes every Monday and Wednesday on about helping entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs build successful start-ups


  1. zoey

    November 27, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Mummy and Daddy 🙂

    • Toby Nwazor

      November 28, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      I didn’t mention mummy and daddy because some badt people in my primary school took the play to advanced level (if you know what I mean, lol) But it was fun.

  2. Nkiru Ophelia

    November 27, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Chai, memories. That was one active childhood. Always on the move. Creativity. Police and thief. We called ten ten Oga. Whot . The one you will sing knot the end of a lace of a shoe or slim rope together and use it to make things like two ended pestle

  3. Austar

    November 27, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    That tinko-tinko can be soooo painful, especially if your tinko partner has hard knuckles. This post just brought back so many fond memories. I remember I was a ten-ten master back then and probably still is, if only I can find someone that still knows how to play.

    • Toby Nwazor

      November 28, 2015 at 7:30 pm

      Lol. As in eh. Hahahahaha.

  4. ify

    November 27, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Hahah I play that tinko tinko with my nephew u will see him grinning from ear to ear , mr Toby now I know u grew up in the east , cos we played all, spectacular game my late brother was d borex champ

    • Toby Nwazor

      November 28, 2015 at 7:32 pm

      @Ify, guilty as charged. Anambra state to be exact. Lol. These things have a way of ‘showing themselves’ even after we must have grown up. so sorry about your brother.

    • selly

      December 5, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      Who tell u say na only people wey grow for east sabi catch fun. I grew up in Jos and play all and even more. Seriously it was really fun and come to think of it we all grew up in different parts of the country but we played these games so how did the news fly? Lol

  5. Bukkie

    November 27, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    u forgot police and thief. i had so much fun growing up with my sisters and cousins playing all the games listed above before one evil woman moved into our compound and stopped all the kids from running around and playing in the compound. it was still fun tho.

  6. kenitola

    November 27, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    suwe, ten ten and tinko are my favorites, till date i do tinko with my son (waiting on God for a bouncing baby girl) and he enjoys it.

    • Toby Nwazor

      November 28, 2015 at 7:34 pm

      Amen. I pray your desire get granted.

  7. mars

    November 27, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    Miss dis games dey. Were all fun

  8. Nikky

    November 27, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    oh yeah , had so many fun games then (evening) playtime then was really a time to look forward too.
    what do kids do these days?

    • Toby Nwazor

      November 28, 2015 at 7:38 pm

      They collect your smart phone or tablet as soon as you come visiting and they look for a game to play

  9. Tosin

    November 27, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    At first I was reading like, I’ma disown this Toby guy, which village did he grow up in…but from like number 10 things were familiar. Mos def we had some games…

  10. IfeLove

    November 27, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    Memories! I played all but Borex, Cashew nuts and rolling tyre. Even though my dad prohibited us frombeing outside the house, we found our way out there o.

    • Cindy

      November 27, 2015 at 11:35 pm

      Lol, I can’t forget the number of clocks, daddy’s photos and bones my brother broke just because he wanted to play football. He played that shit everywhere, even in the sitting room. I honestly wonder how the TV survived. I mean, what was he thinking? For all he went through in his childhood just to play that thing, I’m sad he is not in the national team by now. I guess the bulala reset his brain early enough. Choi! Dude made me hate that game with passion. Someone be dodging flying balls upandan even inside the house ??????????

    • Toby Nwazor

      November 28, 2015 at 7:41 pm

      hahahahahahahahahhahahaha. Wonderful memories. I can relate, but mine wasn’t that extreme. But I played in the balcony, in the bedroom, and in the compound. But not in the parlour.

  11. IfeLove

    November 27, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    Memories! I played all but Borex, Cashew nuts and rolling tyre. Even though my dad prohibited us from being outside the house, we found our way out there o.

    • Toby Nwazor

      November 27, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      Ifelove, my mumsy flog me tire. I still found a way to do my thing. God punish devil. Lmao

  12. Elizabeth fifi

    November 27, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    You forgot to add: after round one original panadol extra otun gbe de…, who stole the meat from the cooking pot… I’ve forgotten the names of these games but honestly we had the best childhood. Technology has stolen the beauty and innocence of childhood from these generation.

  13. Mabel

    November 27, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    I know they would not know how to play Jacks or even what to do with Do kids today even play games together or they just plug into their devices?

    • Toby Nwazor

      November 27, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      Tell that my kid bro. The guy can can get immersed in a laptop for a whole day. But he doesnt know how to play football. He is very smart though.

  14. The Buttery Hotness

    November 27, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    Haha! The wave of nostalgia that just washed over me. I’m so pinning this page. Life has gotten so serious that I’ve stifled the child in me. Need to break her out of that container.
    Thanks Toby! Really enjoy how down-to-earth your articles are. You are becoming one of my BN faves, slowly but surely.

    • Toby Nwazor

      November 27, 2015 at 7:41 pm

      Thanks dear. I appreciate you too

  15. ijeoma

    November 27, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    Its funny my landlord has a big compound n his kids actuali do most of d listed. I feel part of d reason all dis is fadin away is bcos of d lack of security coupled with d greed of many landlords dat build houses back to back thereby leavin no spaces for car parkin not to talk of play zones

    • Toby Nwazor

      November 27, 2015 at 7:36 pm

      Its quite unfortunate that most compounds are buikt like that these days, leaving no room for play.

  16. mandicka

    November 27, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    wooooooaaoooooooow!!! this is amazing!!! i played all of this games and more
    wow!! Toby ur awesome!! i love ur writing>>>> shout out from Chinny and Nifa

  17. Adesuwa

    November 27, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    I played everything =D =D , when u have male cousins u learn male games too lyk football 🙂 there’s “who’s in the garden” “who thief my ludo,danger” the one u play with hands, the loser gets slapped in d hands & so many of them. Thank you toby 4 ds old memories

  18. nene

    November 27, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    who stole the meat from the cooking pot and ludo

  19. Cindy

    November 27, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    In and out! center! I call on AIT! everybody scrams………….AIT jumps into the center and shouts STOP! AIT then jumps three steps outside the circle to catch the closest probably NTA. NTA loses a point. If AIT can’t get to anyone in three jumps, AIT loses a point. People dey cheat for that game ehn. Peeps be stylishly moving back or won’t stop when it’s time to stop. I still played the game with a large group of friends this year. I was so excited. I was out of the game early but I enjoyed calling out awon cheaters from the sideline?? #memories

    • lu-lu

      November 28, 2015 at 10:52 am

      i remember this game.. none of my friends in my current city know it funny enough. Did you grow up in Warri? I remember game box and so many others that do not really have titles

  20. Babytohcute

    November 27, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    Ahn ahn my guy, you forgot “ice and water”. There was also bend down, bend down (Lilly Lilly Lilly lilly oh, mother in the kitchen cooking rice, father in the parlour watching film and that is the end of my story…). And then this one that there’s a circle in the middle with stop written, whoever is in the circle calls out a country, everybody runs and he/she jumps out and takes three hops to the nearest person. Damn! Life was so good and innocent. Ehen, how could you forget “mr macaroni riding on a bicycle(I think)….

    • Toby Nwazor

      November 28, 2015 at 7:44 pm

      I think that’s the one we called willi willi willi wilii o. Change ur style…another style…be like that…be like that. U have a wonderful memory Babytohcute

  21. Shalabam

    November 27, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    If you were born in January stand up.

    Dog a hoe, dig dig a hoe, hey titi what’s up, are you ready, for what……. I put my hands upon my knee and this is how I dig…

    A sailor went to see see see

    Mummy in the kitchen cooking rice……. Change your style

    Show me your style gen another one

    Chop amala chop amala before you die

    I call on…

    Stuck in the mud

    Police and thief

    One day pa pa pa, monkey go market to buy banana, e eat am finish…

    Mary has a one leg a one leg (for skipping)

    Omo I play outside well well… Till my knees were ashy lol

  22. anamnesis

    November 28, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Awww Toby! You brought to heart so many fun memories. I laffed really hard when I got to poppy-yes as I remembered how my friend grabbed a neighbor and screamed I’ve caught you, I’ve caught you! Thinking it was one of us.

    This article and the comments made me smile so much, I even had tears in my eyes. Thank you Toby

    • Toby Nwazor

      November 28, 2015 at 7:45 pm

      Hahahahahahahahaha. Poppy yes was really wonderful. The great thing about most of them was that they were equally unisexual

  23. michelle

    November 28, 2015 at 10:10 am

    I could cook for africa eh! You forgot to add ‘mama and papa play’ LOL

  24. chioma

    November 29, 2015 at 12:11 am

    Toby being a girl never deterred me from playing all the boy games,bore,wheel, tyre,football etc. even went as far as playing tennis d table being our soak away pit then. I graduated to using our dinning table for this tennis when ordered not to step out and bagged an all girls boarding school cos I was becoming tomboyish. sweet memories!

  25. Yanmbeyanmbe

    November 29, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    I do not belong to your generation but that of your parents Bless the writer of this article.Permit me to say your generstion is the last as far as this funs are concerned and im sad about it. While im not against advanced technology(thats what I’m using right now) some of them have come to wipe off our beautiful cultures and good funs.Your generation also missed what we enjoyed- moon light stories. 0

  26. Dantob

    November 30, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Toby, How come you left out “Kite flying”?….I was very bad at making kites but enjoyed flying the ones made by my friends.

    • Tosin

      December 1, 2015 at 5:48 am

      When I think about it now, swinging was paradise. Either on a swing or hanging on one broken steel fence upside down singing jangilova epo moto (eja dadi)

    • Toby Nwazor

      June 9, 2016 at 10:11 am

      Hahahahaha. Yes o. No dulling. There was always something to improvise with.

  27. dex

    December 1, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    O boy!!! I kw I played al types, sorts kite, wheels, kudo, football, catcher, primary school was thorough fun, home was equally fun. My dad (RIP) wud instruct not to leave the house till 4pm, I wud gently crawl by 10 to 4 even without telling him just to go and play. I was ten-twn master down to early secondary days. The articles and comments just brot bk wonderful memories as a kid. And yes poor security (pedophiles inclusive), plus tight- built residences hv made our kids lack that genuine innocence and playful experiences of childhood.

  28. TeeTee

    December 18, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    It’s actually not true that kids are no longer playing these games, I am in the school system and kids still play some of these games, of course, there are new ones too but at school, they play. The problem may be at home but these games are still popular at schools. Like a previous poster mentioned, there are no more compounds to play in and no one trusts their neighbours! So gone are the days where are the kids in a compound play together…today everyone minds their business so no opportunity to continue the games at home.

  29. Betalatethaneva

    January 5, 2016 at 5:14 am

    How about
    Ede × Ede Remi K(C)oni Iya Segun Elere Ball Odabo Odabo Kayode. (A sort of mnemonic for Exercise Book, using each of the letters)
    My name , my name , my name, pamuregeji…
    Piyo piyo piyo ..tafabalewa capital of oyo ( gosh! Some of these lines were hilarious and silly)Lagos celestial ibadan…
    Who is in the garden, a lil fine girl. Can I come and see her, no no no no
    I ran after the iron round disks (used for the rotating belts, found in the engine of the popular tricycle)with a straightened metal hangar as support while it rolled ahead of me. The trick was never to allow the rolling disk stop moving.
    And there was skipping rope. Ahh, such times *sips hot chocolate*. Good one Toby.

    • Toby Nwazor

      June 9, 2016 at 9:32 am

      Hahaha. We used to say “Ede times Ede Rice, Customer. I see Ede. beans oloko oloko kish”. Still the same thing, mnemonic for Exercise book. Lol. It was fun jare

  30. Nonso Samuelson

    March 13, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Nice piece. I played every single game on this list… and it was fun!!! Kids of this millennium really don’t know what it means to play. I mean really play. Sadly our ‘technology’ has surpassed our ‘human interaction’ just as Einstein predicted.

    • Toby Nwazor

      June 9, 2016 at 10:09 am

      Sad. Really sad. I am glad I experienced the games too

  31. Chizzy

    June 30, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    This post made me teary. The comments also.
    I miss being a kid (sometimes)

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