Herons or long-legged Marsh-cranes

Mr. Xulu of Nkwenkwe, KwaZulu says herons are sticks with forks which boys use to elongate themselves and step with. The other term for this game is long-legged marsh-cranes.


1 The person consulted
2 Who plays the game?
3 What equipment is used to play the game?
4 When is this game played?
5 Where is this game played?
6 How is this game played?
7 Custom associated with this game.
8 Source

The person consulted
The researcher spoke to Mr. K Xulu of Nkwenkwe, Zululand who gave an explanation about how this game is played.

Who play the game?
This game is played by boys who are between 6 years and 14 years.

What equipment is used to play the game?
To play this game, boys used long sticks with forks. These days they play this game using tins with strings tied to them.

When is this game played?
This game is played during the day and at night throughout the year.

Where is this game played?
This game is played along pathways or in an open cleared space.

How is this game played?
Boys would go to the forest and fell sticks to use. Each boy would look for a strong straight stick which has forks to support it. Each boy would fell two sticks. He would place each of his foot on the fork of the branch and would be lifted up and look very tall. His own feet will not touch the ground.

All the boys would lift themselves high this way and look very tall indeed. Around homesteads boys loved using these long-legged cranes at night. They would hide in dark areas and when a person appears, mount on their cranes and walk along. That person would be frightened and run for his life thinking that he had seen a ghost whereas it would have been the boys scaring him. However, playing this trick on grown men was dangerous because when frightened, grown men would attack these ghost-like creatures with their sticks. Boys would climb down from these cranes and run for their lives.

In these modern days children living in townships use tins, bore holes in the middle of the tins, put strings through and tie these up. Two tins are prepared this way and used in the same way as the long-legged marsh-cranes. Boys do this just to amuse themselves not to scare people because their areas are well lit with electricity with less dark areas. Also because some people carry dangerous weapons like guns, the game can have fatal results if boys try to scare people. Using tins, each boy would mount to each tin with the string between the toes and held by hand. He would walk tall with these tins. This happens during the day so as not to scare people.

Custom associated with this game.
What is good about this game is that when it is rainy or there is dew, boys will not be wet if they have made themselves these marsh-cranes. This game cautioned people not to wander about at night in order to avoid encountering ghosts and thugs.

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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