The Calabash Kids

In 2014 the Steven Tito Academy (STA) students performed a play called ‘The Calabash Kids’. They put on a great show for their parents and guardians.


We chose a story from Tanzania for the play.


The Story

The Calabash Kids is a Chagga story. The Chagga are a tribe who live near Mt Kilimanjaro in the north of Tanzania. The story tells of a lonely woman, Shindo, who has no husband or children. She prays every day to the Mountain Spirit for children to love and care for and who can help her with her chores. One day the Mountain Spirit gives her some seeds. From the seeds gourds grow which Shindo makes into calabashes. One day the calabashes change into children while she is out collecting water. She loves the children dearly and they help her. One child, Kitete, finds most things difficult to do so he mostly sits by the fire and smiles. Shindo loves Kitete but sometimes he gets in the way. One day, Shindo yells at Kitete and says he is stupid and nothing but a calabash. Kitete quickly changes back into a calabash. Shindo regrets what she said and begs the other children to help her change Kitete back to a child. They are all very happy when Kitete changes back into a child and Shindo never says nasty things to any of her children ever again.


The students could try out for many different roles. Some students wanted to act, others wanted to drum and some wanted to paint the set. There were many different jobs to be done.

Salama R was chosen to be Shindo, the main character in the story. She had to practise very hard as she has songs to sing and many lines to say. On the day of the concert Salama was very nervous. All the students encouraged her and reminded her how talented she is. She did a great job and we were all very proud of her.


Teacher John, our Performing Arts teacher helped our musicians and they had a great time making rhythms and sounds when the calabashes changed into children. Teacher John also taught each class some dances that they performed as part of the show. The parents were very happy to see their children doing some traditional Tanzanian dancing.



The students finished the school concert by singing a song called ‘Sing’ together. They were all very proud and excited to sing for their parents.


1. Have you ever been in a school play? What job did you do?

2. If you could choose any song for your class/school to sing which would it be? Why?

3. What is the moral of the story “The Calabash Kids”? (Click here for the full story)

4. What does the word ‘nervous’ mean? Why might Salama R have been nervous? Is there a time that you have been nervous?

Lesson Ideas

1. Learn about the Chagga tribe, or another Tanzanian tribe.

2. Read a traditional folktale from your country. Help your students to create a play using the story.

3. Learn the song ‘Sing’ and perform at Assembly or a school concert.

4. Read the story ‘The Calabash Kids’ to your students. Ask them to visualise as you read and draw pictures to show what is happening the story.

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