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Aspects of Malawi 4: At play in Malawi

To give the children a glimpse of play in Malawi.

by Helen Redfern

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To give the children a glimpse of play in Malawi.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a pile of sticks, string, wire, stones and plastic bags.
  • Two children to do the reading: a boy in shorts, a T-shirt, bare feet and holding a ball made from plastic bags wrapped tightly into a ball and tied with string; the other child in a football strip, boots and holding a football.
  • Photographs are available to download to accompany this assembly.


  1. Most children in Malawi do not have toys that have been bought from a shop. They do not have books or even paper and coloured pencils. Most homes do not have electricity, so the children do not have PlayStations and DVDs and CD players to entertain them.

    Children in Malawi often make their own toys and games to play with.

    Can I have two volunteers? Here are some things that children in Malawi might make toys out of – sticks, string, wire, stones, plastic bags. I wonder what you can make to play with. Have a go and I’ll come back to you a bit later.
  2. Reader 1:  My name is Victor and I love football.

    Reader 2:  My name is ……… and I love football.

    Reader 1:  I play for my village team. (Photo 1)

    Reader 2:  I play for ………

    Reader 1:  I play football in bare feet.

    Reader 2:  I play football in football boots and shin pads.

    Reader 1:  I play with a ball made from plastic bags and string.

    Reader 2:  I play with a proper football.

    Reader 1:  Our goalposts are made from long sticks tied together with string. (Photo 2)

    Reader 2
    :  Our goalposts are made from metal and netting.

    Reader 1:  I want to play for the Malawi national team when I am older.

    Reader 2:  I want to play for ……… when I am older.
  3. On very special occasions, the village people get together to watch a tribal dance. These dancers are called the Gule Wamkulu (Photo 3).

    No one knows for sure who they are. They are disguised in brightly painted masks and strips of cloth or animal skin. When they dance, they kick up the dust in order to disguise themselves further. Some believe that they drive evil spirits away from the village. The dances are a great source of celebration, although the village children can be scared by their appearance.

    Do you think you would be scared? Imagine seeing a man dressed like this for the first time …
  4. Back to our toy-makers. What have you come up with? (Show what they have made.)

    It must be very hard for children in Malawi to make toys to play with, mustn’t it?

Time for reflection

Take time to imagine what it might be like to play with your friends in Malawi.

Imagine living without your favourite toys and books and electronic gadgets.

We each have so many things to be thankful for.

As we consider the country of Malawi, let us open our minds to learn from how the people live and work and play.

Let us open our hearts to appreciate all that we have.

Let us open our imaginations to help the hopes of the people of Malawi become realities.


‘The family of man’ (Come and Praise, 69)

Publication date: December 2009   (Vol.11 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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