Oware tournament returns to Africentric school
By Neil Armstrong
Oware, one of the world's famous games having its roots in antiquity from Kuma temples of Egypt to ancient Zimbabwe and Uganda, is returning to Toronto District School Board’s Africentric Alternative School. (AAS)
In 2011, the first MACPRI Toronto International Oware Tournament and Family Fun Day was held at the school.
The second was held in 2013 at Westview Centennial Secondary School in the city and this year the tournament returns to the school on October 15 with Jean Augustine as its patron.
Augustine, a former school principal, was a Member of Parliament from 1993-2006 and served on the federal Cabinet from 2002 to 2004.
As the first African Canadian woman to be appointed to the federal Cabinet, Augustine also championed the legislation to recognize February as Black History Month in Canada.
The tournament is an all-ages, inter-generational activity which includes participants ranging in age from 12 to 80 years old sitting and playing together.
Adisa S. Oji, also known as Brother Oji, chief of MACPRI is the founder of Oware Canada, Oware Jamaica, Oware Ghana and developer of the African Image Revolution.
Mother Africa’s Children Photographic Reproductions International (MACPRI) was founded in 1987 and is the parent body for Oware Canada, which was launched in October 2010.
Oji said the first tournament in Toronto was held at the Africentric school because his organization thought Oware and the school was a great fit.
“So going to the AAS would raise the profile of MACPRI and that of AAS towards our common mission to developing an Africentric perspective in curriculum, educational resources, special activities, community and school engagement and even ‘made in Africa’ art for awards.”
Yolisa Dalamba, chair of the school council executive, said it was very happy to receive Oji’s proposal to host it at the AAS this year.
“We see it as a natural progression and would not have been pleased had it been held elsewhere as it signifies growth and commitment in our business and community partnerships. MACPRI has been committed to supporting the Africentric Alternative School (AAS).”
She said students are excited and are planning to have prep sessions to support those participating in the tournaments.
“This is a fun and engaging way to teach and learn math and students have shown leadership in getting involved in helping to prepare for it. Such an experience can involve much of the student body and when students see something like this being embraced by parents then it becomes a community initiative and that’s one of the things we value greatly,” she said.
Oji said MACPRI is aware of the challenges presently facing the AAS so returning there for the third tournament will help the school to gain needed positive publicity that will assist in re-invigorating its profile.
He noted that what people love most about the Oware tournament is that they can have fun, while playing an exciting original African game and learning about aspects of African culture embedded in the game’s rules.
“Many people want us to do the tournament every year and expand to have a tournament for different age groups, but MACPRI does not have the budget or get enough sponsorship to do this. Oware Day is primarily self-funded by MACPRI,” he said.
Referencing feedback from past tournaments, he said many younger children – those below the minimum age to play, 12 – have argued that the tournament should be for them too.
As a result, children as young as 7 years old have been allowed to participate in the tournament.
“Their parents have been taken aback by the confidence their children exhibit playing against someone six times their age. The Oware tournament and family day, in summary, for many, is seen as unprecedented – to get more than four generations to sit and play together.”
He said people love the hospitality of the free breakfast and the numerous family day activities, such as art and craft, head wrapping workshops, storytelling and more.
“When we think about culture we usually focus on food and other forms of cultural expression like music, dance and language. Rarely do we think about preserving traditional Afrikan games and their vital role in preserving a dynamic “village” community,” said Dalamba.
The tournament will be held at the Africentric Alternative School on October 15.
|At play at the 2013 MACPRI Toronto International Owaree Tournament and Family Fun Day at Westview Centennial Secondary School in Toronto. Photo credit: Adisa Oji|
|The 2013 MACPRI Toronto International Oware Tournament and Family Fun Day at Westview Centennial Secondary School in Toronto. Photo credit: Adisa Oji|
|Storytelling at the 2013 MACPRI Toronto International Oware Tournament and Family Fun Day. Photo credit: Adisa Oji|