Children’s toys in Baskeet

Like in most places in rural areas of Ethiopia, Baskeet children have to be content with self-made toys from stones, sticks, bamboo rods, wires and other little things that are thrown away or not of much other use. With this material, children can build small vehicles or other things that can be “driven”, e.g. bamboo rods with a small wheel at the end. If a split bamboo rod is bent into a ring and tied together at the end, it may serve as an anga [pronounced: ʔáŋa]:

Unknown boy from the Dookka-C’ari-Subba neighbourhood with his anga

Unknown boy from the Dookka-C’ari-Subba neighbourhood with his anga

An anga is a ring that is rolled on the road and driven on with a small stick by the child running beside the ring. The aim of the game is not to let the ring slow down or fall down.

Another type of toy I have come across are “enset dolls” – unfortunately, I did not record the Baskeet name for them. Enset plants (called uutts in Baskeet) are an important source of food for humans and cattle in Baskeet, and many other places in South Ethiopia. The Baskeet mainly consume the enset corms (= the tubers) of young plants. When the tuber is dug out and cut off from the remainder of the plant, the pseudo-stem (made up of layers, i.e. “leaf sheaths”, like an onion) and the large enset leaves that are left are usually fed to the cattle. See a sketch of an enset plant here.

Children who are lucky to grab a piece of a leaf sheath may turn it into a simple doll. Strong fibres run through the enset stem. These fibres become the doll’s hair when pulp is scratched away and the fibres are isolated at the top end (i.e. the head) of the doll. In the absence of an enset doll photo, here’s a very rough sketch (a proper photo will hopefully be provided later!):

Sketch of an enset doll

Sketch of an enset doll

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