David’s Sling

Our three-year-old’s favorite Bible story is – no surprise here – David & Goliath. She loves the part where he swings the sling and tosses the rock, hitting Goliath. Here she is narrating it at the dinner table:

Slingshots are common in northern Ghana but are usually the “Dennis the Menace” type with a forked branch and a rubber sling tied between them.

In the old days before rubber was introduced, the Mamprusi made and used slings much like what David would have had in 1 Samuel 17. Occasionally, I find someone with one of these traditional or “old-school” slings.

In eastern Mamprugu they call these slings “kalɔbiga” meaning ‘millet thrower’ because they are used to throw stones at birds trying to eat sown millet seeds in farm. I had always assumed the intention was to hit the birds with the stones. However, the release of the stone also makes a loud popping sound as the rope snaps back. This sound scares off the birds even if the stone comes nowhere near them.

Here’s a short clip of a Mamprusi boy using one to scare off birds from his family’s farm. Notice the snap or pop sound when he hurls it. If this were are leather sling and not just woven vines, it would have been much, much louder.

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