Plundering goods

Mr. C Mhlongo of Ndundulu KwaZulu-Natal says that plundering goods refers to a practice by boys to help themselves on the fields of mealies or sweet-reed without the permission of the owner. Whatever they manage to get will be tied to their ankles. This form of stealing is called plundering. To tie the crops on the ankles will help boys not to be caught that they have stolen since they will walk bare-handed especially in a grazing area.


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

The person consulted
The researcher spoke to Mr. C Mhlongo about this form of a game. Mr. Mhlongo hails from Ndundulu in KwaZulu Natal.

Who plays this game?
This game is played by older boys from 10 years upwards.

What equipment is used to play this game?
This game involves crops such as mealies, sweet-reed, sweet-potatoe, potatoes as well as eggs and chicken which could be obtained and roasted in the pastures during stock herding.

When is the game played?
This practice takes place in autumn when it is harvest time.

Where is the game played?
This practice takes place in the fields which are within reach from the pastures.

How is the game played?
In summer as the boys are out in the pastures, they would look around to check if there was no adult around, then they would sneak into the fields. They would then slash ripe mealies and tie them around their ankles. If they find sweet-reed the same will apply to it as well.

As they tie the crops around ankles, a person walking by will just see a boy walking bare-handed and not suspect a thing. This practice was common on cold days where they made fire to warm themselves in the pastures. They would then roast the mealies for their consumption. Even sweet-potatoes and potatoes were roasted. Eggs would be covered thickly with dung and also roasted. The valorous boys strongly cautioned the younger boys not to report their actions at home.

Custom associated with this game
This is one of the oldest games among African people. If it happened that the boys were caught, the elders did not regard this practice as stealing. A Zulu saying goes “Isisu asiphathwa yisilima” (meaning they wouldn’t do it for destruction purposes or in a senseless manner in order to feed themselves). However, these days such a practice is not tolerated.

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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