Genna (Ethiopia)

Name of sport (game): Genna
Name in native language: ገና (From Amharic – the official language of Ethiopia) means Christmas. Genna was grown and practiced around this holiday (to be more specific around january 7th becouse of use of Julian calendar in Ethiopia), hence the name.
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

The game is practiced only in Ethiopia.


Genna is the oldest game practiced in Ethiopia. It has been practised for centuries, however, the exact history and the time of creation are not known. There are two legends that may indicate that the sport was invented in the first centuries AD.
First legend says that when the news of the birth of Jesus reached the Ethiopian shepherds, they began hitting the ball with their shepherd's crooks in a fit of happiness, and that is how genna and field hockey were created.
However, second legend is slightly different. Its protagonists are the Three Wise Man who, after visiting little Jesus, returned home. During their journey they met a man who denied the fact of birth. Then the monarchs murdered him and began playing genna with his head.
It is noteworthy that in the first centuries games similar to hockey were very popular. People have been playing games such as pelota purépecha (Mexico) or hurling (Ireland).


Every team has at least 7, but not more than 10 players. One of them is a goalkeeper. Players can be replaced at any time by somebody from up to 5 people waiting on the bench.
The tennis size ball is made of tree roots and decorated so its colors improve its visibility. The stick, on the other hand, is made of eucalyptus branches and rounded at the end. It is slightly longer than the player's shoulder.
Playing field is 300 meters long and 200 meters wide. To get a point, players need to hit the ball to the opponent's goal. At the beginning two players from different teams face each other in the middle of the field, they contact their sticks 3 times and then fight over a ball.
Game is divided into two 30-minute halves, and the winner is the team that scores more goals. There is also a 10-minute break after first 30 minutes. In the event of a tie, there is a 20-minute overtime.

Current status:

Practiced sport.
Matches always take place on the 7th of January; on other days, people just do not play genna.


Does not exist any known institution due to rarity of genna games.

Sources of information :

Briggs, P. (2012). Ethiopia (Bradt Travel Guides). Chalfont St. Peter: Bradt Travel Guides.
Trans World Sport. (2015, August 24th). Genna | Ancient Ethiopian Sport on Trans World Sport [Video file]. Retrieved from
Industrial Ethiopia. (1970). Nairobi: United Africa Press.

Nzango (Congo)

Name of sport (game): Nzango
Name in native language: Nzango or Dzango, Kange
Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

Democratic Republic of Congo
Sport practiced exclusively by women


"Nzango" literally means "foot game" in the local Lingala language. This name is used in the western part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the eastern part, it’s called Kange.
Nzango originates from Congo. It had been practiced by primary school children and in Brazaville it later became a sport discipline managed by a Federation led by Blanche Akouala. The efforts of Guy Noel Mpassi Titov, an employee of Ministry of Health and Vice President of Fédération Congolaise de Nzango, were an impulse to transform the game into the sport. The sport increased its popularity from few regions of the country to nationwide and international popularity (eg. Gabon and Cameroon).
Modern Nzango was approved by ministerial decree in 2005 in Congo-Brazzaville. Since then, official rules have been created, official matches have been organized, and in 2009 the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has also included them in its sporting legislation.
It is considered the national sport of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Nzango is a simple game for girls, which initially had been played during school breaks. It has gradually been gaining the reputation of sport recently. Codified with precise rules, it is played on a pitch measuring 8 meters by 16 meters, marked with a red central stripe and two blue ones on the sides. It’s played by two teams of 17 - eleven players and six reserves. A game lasts 50 minutes.
The rules may seem complicated but in fact, they are relatively simple. The goal of the game is to copy the movements of the dancing opponent as accurately as possible. At the beginning of the game, the teams choose a foot by which to attack, with one team side taking the right foot, and the other team side the left foot.
Teams attack or defend alternately with the rhythm of clapping and songs chanted by all participants with the accompanying clapping. The singing determines the rhythm of competition. Slow causes movements of the players to be more similar, along with the acceleration, the competition also gains momentum and becomes more difficult.
Teams are facing each other at a distance of about 2 meters.
Then the first two players step forward. The goal of the player from the attack team is to move forward on their designated attack foot at the same time as their opponent does.
Such movements are invariably preceded by ever more elaborate jumps -- as you can't lose a point while both feet are in the air.
The referee assesses whether the players have mimicked the opponent's dance steps. The referee awards points (called "feet") to players who place their feet just like their opponents. Gradually, players are eliminated, and only one player remains on the pitch. Yellow and red cards are used to punish those who break the rules of the game.
The winning team is the one that collects the most "feet" during the entire match.
The sport can be also practiced by people with disabilities.

Current status:

Practiced sport
The Nzango Federation has been organizing a championship since 2010. Nzango was demonstrated during the African Games in Brazzaville in 2015 (2015 All Africa Games).
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has adopted a new sport discipline called Nzango n 2001. The President of the Nzango Kinshasa League, Victorine Mbombo, wants to make Nzango a sport discipline such as football, basketball or volleyball. Already more than 25 teams have been registered at the headquarters of the Nzango Provincial League located in the municipality of Gombe. The Kinshasa province is divided into two leagues: the Kinshasa East league and the Kinshasa West league. President Victorine Mbombo is a supporter of promotion of this sport.


Association Sportive De Nzango -


Fédération congolaise de Nzango -


Sources of information :

Nzango -
Nzango -
Article about o Nzango from 29th September 2015 -
Article in Le Congolais „Nzango – Un Jeu De Récré Congolais Présenté Aux Jeux Africains” z 25th September 2015 -
Information on Dzango in „Historical Dictionary of Republic of the Congo” -



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