Fun in the Gambia
Gambian style tic-tac-toe
Introduction and set-up.
This game, which is similar to tic-tac-toe, has variations all over the world, from Ghana and India to France and England. A game for two players, it is played on a board drawn on any available surface—dirt, sand or paper, using small stones for counters. The board is a square with four lines crossing in the middle:
Each player selects a set of four stones that look unique from his opponent’s stones (i.e. one player selects light-coloured stones and the other player selects dark-coloured stones).
Playing the game.
There are two stages to the game—putting the stones on the board and then moving them from place to place.
1. Players take turns putting their stones on the board at the places where lines intersect. The object of the game is to get three stones in a row (i.e. on the same line). If this has not been accomplished by the time all of the stones have been placed on the board, the players continue to the next stage. Here is a sample set up going into stage two:
2. Players take turn moving one of their stones to the empty space on the board. Only stones that are adjacent to the empty space can be moved to the empty space. For instance, in the above game, the only stones that can be moved to the empty space are the black stone in the bottom left corner, the black stone in the middle, or the white stone in the bottom right corner.
3. First person to get three in a row is the winner. Here is a sample of the final board of a game won by black.
Gambian Jokes (written lovingly by a tubaab)
Actually, I prefer groundnuts.
That’s him--he goes by Mighty.
How many white Roberts in The Gambia have nicknames?
You must be in The Gambia.
Waaw, you’re still in The Gambia.
If you wanna be polite, you should say “Alhamdulaye.”
Duzzit fitch who?
Nope, I gotta go back to the tailor.
What do you get when a Gambian girl/guy doesn’t want to go out with you in the evening?
Not for me—taapa laapa is the way to go!
Coco-fry (downloadable version, click here)
- Cheese grade
- Knife, stove
- Frying plan or pot
- Stirring utensil
- Open the coconut and separate the edible white part from the hard brown shell (see Coconuts for instructions on how to open the coconut)
- Grate the coconut into tiny flakes or cut it into small pieces with the knife (into pieces that are as thin as possible).
- Dump the coconut flakes into the frying pan or pot. Mix in a lot of sugar—probably as much in volume as the coconut. Next, add water so it covers the mixture.
- Put the pan/pot on the stove and heat it, stirring every so often. The object is to boil the water away, leaving the sugar to coat the coconut with syrupy sweetness.
- After the water boils away, pour/spoon the mixture on to the plate. When it cools, it should be crumbly and ready to eat.
Notes: You may have to try this recipe several times to get the proportion of sugar and coconut correct, as well as the cooking time. As the sizes of coconuts vary and measuring cups are hard to come by, it is tough to spell out exact amounts in a recipe. In any case, any thing made out of sugar and coconuts is bound to be tasty regardless of texture!
- 3-4 onions
- 1 small chili (hot)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 Jumbo or Maggi cubes
- 2-3 teaspoons of mustard
- Capful of vinegar
- Salt (to taste)
- Cayenne pepper (to taste)
- 4-6 pieces of raw chicken
- Rice (1.5-2.0 lbs)
- Large mixing bowl
- Mortar and pestle (optional)
- Metal spoon (or other heat resistant utensil)
- Heat source
- Pot with lid
Directions for sauce:
- Chop up onions and red pepper and put in large mixing bowl
- Pound garlic with mortar and pestle (if you don’t have one available, chop it very finely instead). Add garlic to the mixing bowl.
- Crush Jumbo/Maggi cubes and add to the bowl.
- Add mustard, vinegar, salt, and cayenne pepper to the bowl. Mix all of the ingredients together.
- Add chicken to the bowl and cover it with the mixture. Let it marinate for about 30 minutes.
- Remove the chicken and grill it lightly in the skillet. Use high heat and cook both sides. Remove the chicken and set aside, taking care to preserve the chicken grease (let it remain in the skillet).
- Lightly fry the onion mixture in the skillet (with the chicken grease).
- Add the grilled chicken to the skillet and cook until the chicken is no longer pink inside.
- Serve hot over rice (see below).
Directions for cooking rice:
Use 2 parts water for 1 part rice—one cup of dry rice generally makes three serving. Heat the water and a pinch of salt in a covered pot. Add the rice when the water reaches a boil, cover with the lid until cooked. Add more water if it boils completely away and the rice is not yet cooked. As much as possible, try to avoid opening the lid, as this will let the steam escape.
Wanjo "sour" juice or ice
- Dried wanjo flowers
- Cooking pot (with a lid)
- Utensil for stirring hot liquid
- Coffee mug
- Metal strainer and another pot/bowl (optional)
Additional supplies for making ices:
Small plastic bags
Funnel made from bottom of plastic bottle (e.g. Naturelle)
- Fill pot 2/3 full with water. Put on stove and bring it to a boil.
- Add dried wanjo flowers and a fair bit of sugar. Cover and let boil, stirring occasionally.
- Leave on heat until the juices reaches desired strength, adding sugar as preferred to taste. Taste tests are essential—dip the coffee mug in to sample it, but be sure to let it cool a bit before it touches your tongue.
- Remove from heat. If you have a strainer, strain it into another container to separate the juice from the flowers. If you don’t have a strainer, use the coffee mug or a spoon to scoop the flowers out as best as you can.
- The wanjo juice is ready to drink if you prefer it warm; if not, refrigerate it for several hours. If you want to make wanjo ices, let the pot of liquid cool for sometime in the air. Then, use the funnel and coffee mug to pour the liquid into the small bags so they are about half full. Tie them securely closed by twisting tightly the remaining plastic to squeeze out the air and looping it into a knot. Freeze the bags and enjoy with friends on a hot day!