Gaming and digital tech company, Viral Gorrrila has unveiled a series of edutainment web-based mobile games to help primary-going children learn more about financial literacy, social skills, school curriculum lessons, and African history and culture.
Dubbed AMUA -the Swahili term for decide, the mobile web-based edutainment game platform targets primary-going children from Grades one to six and borrows from the CBC curriculum guidelines.
The platform is piloting a series of 10 games and animation stories designed to help children learn lessons through the journey of Kitu and her nomadic family who are travelling across the continent of Africa on a fun adventure under the sun. Players will immerse themselves in the history, culture, and stories of different countries across Africa as they play. Through their adventures, each game played unlocks a new part of the story and reveals new mysteries.
Amua Games are therefore first and foremost fun. Children enjoy their time playing and hardly realize they are learning about places, cultures, and history in Africa. The games they play help to reinforce their classroom lessons and build their critical thinking, problem-solving, and cognitive skills and offer life lessons.
According to Joyce Muthoni, the Founder and CEO, Viral Gorrrila, children, these days are growing up very differently from us. They are “Digital Natives” – they have been swiping and tapping since they were toddlers. It is important to deliver content in a format that is comfortable for them, and that fits their brains’ way of thinking.
“Our games are colourful, they have music, and they require physical interactions, not like sitting and just listening to a teacher for hours. The kids learn by DOING, and that is so much more powerful. Amua Games are one-on-one interactions directly with each child, tailoring the content in the game specifically to the grade level of that child.”
Muthoni emphasizes that exposing a child to Amua Games is like giving them a private storyteller assistant teacher, who reinforces the lessons they are learning in class especially when it comes to learning histories and cultures from different countries in Africa:
“AMUA edutainment games aim to improve knowledge of our children on the rich African history and culture. Because of Westernization and the propagation of Western media today, African culture and history have experienced an extensive erosion, losing their roots, identity, and substance. Our children don’t know that Africa has heroes and heroines as well as places with rich history and roots they can relate with. We are therefore fusing storytelling and gaming for them to learn more about the different histories and cultures in Africa.”
On the other hand, with the performance drop in last year’s KCPE social studies, AMUA games are expected to help the upcoming candidates to increase and improve their knowledge base across the different learning areas covered in the school curriculum.
With most parents having access to smartphones and the internet, AMUA games are accessible and affordable at the palm of every child in primary school not only in Kenya but across the continent of Africa
At the same time, AMUA mobile edutainment games aim at preserving and complementing efforts by UNESCO to prevent against decolonization of African culture and history. To remedy the general ignorance of African history, UNESCO launched the General History of Africa in 1964: it summoned African scholars to write for the very first time the history of their continent using sources that Western historians had often overlooked – such as folklore, traditions, and culture – and to provide an African perspective free of the racial prejudices originated by the slave trade and European intervention.
In March 2009, UNESCO launched the ‘Pedagogical Use of the General History of Africa’ to meet requests by African countries to adapt the content of the volumes of the General History of Africa to school education. To this end, UNESCO has developed educational content to be taught to children in African primary and secondary schools to improve the knowledge of African pupils and students on how African societies have evolved through time and space and the impact of these changes on the present and the future:
“We believe modernising the curriculum includes solutions that keep pupils engaged and ensure they learn how to be critical, confident, and creative—abilities required for success in the modern workplace. Playing games greatly increases the brain’s capacity to memorize things. Games enhance the ability to think in a critical way, which boosts the capacity to retain information for a longer time,” says Muthoni.
In West Africa, narratives like the ones shared by Anansi in Spider Tales have been central to human life for thousands of years, as a form of cognitive play that stimulates the human mind, allowing us to understand natural and social phenomena, and imagine different strategies to live in a complex world.
Spider tales are common across West Africa, but the Anansi tales from Ghana are among the best-known, given that Anansi’s name comes from the Akan language word for ‘spider’.
Today, Anansi has become a symbol of the wisdom, creativity, and complexity of the entire African continent. Oral traditions – messages, songs, fables, and proverbs – are passed on from one generation to another without writing, helping people make sense of the world around them and teaching key aspects of their culture.