Fetching water

Ms. G Mkhize of KwaSithebe, KwaZulu says fetching water refers to the practice by girls to take containers and collect drinking water from either a river or a communal tap. Containers would either be clay pots or buckets or any container suitable for this purpose. When girls are playing pretend houses they would use empty tins or drink bottles to carry water for their pretend houses.


  • The person consulted
  • Who plays this game?
  • What is used to play this game?
  • When is this game played?
  • Where is this game played?
  • How is this game played?
  • Custom associated with this game
  • Source

The person consulted

Ms. G Mkhize gave an explanation about this game. She explained that when going to the river to fetch water, girls would bring a smaller container or dish to be used to fill water into the bigger container “ukukhelela”.

Who plays this game?

This game is played by girls only, young and old. The young ones took smaller containers and learnt to balance these in their heads.

What is used to play this game?

Girls used containers suitable to fetch drinking water such as clay pots, barrels, buckets and gourds.

When is this game played?

This game is played throughout the year.

Where is this game played?

This game takes place in the river.

How is this game played?

Girls invited each other when they went to fetch water. Each girl would bring her container. Girls would also bring a ladle to use to fill up the bigger containers. A lot of things take place by the riverside. If it is hot and sunny, girls would swim. At other times they would wrestle each other. Girls to wrestle were match according to age groups. The one who fell down would be the defeated one.

Custom associated with this game

Fetching water is an age-old duty performed by Africans. Girls played this game to prepare themselves for the future as grown women. Grown women especially the new brides fetched water for cooking and drinking. As Frost and Klein (1979) point out, some games prepared children for the future.


From a Masters dissertation by Victoria Mkhize for the School of IsiZulu, University of KwaZulu-Natal. Supervised by Professors P.J. Zungu and V. Prabhakaran.

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