Rhyme/Game – South Africa

Hello, Hello, Hello Sir

Won’t you come for Tea Sir?

No Sir

Why Sir

Because I’ve got a cold Sir

Where did you catch the cold Sir?

From the Northern Pole Sir

How many polar bears did you catch Sir?

1 Sir

2 Sir

3 Sir….

This is a silly, frivolous little rhyme that girls used to say while they played a game that went as follows. A tennis ball was inserted into a cut off section of a pair of stocking. One would position oneself next to a wall. Then one would hit the ball from one side of the body to the other. Every time the word “sir” would come up in the rhyme that person would lift her leg which turned out to be the left leg and hit the wall with the ball right underneath the lifted leg. The goal was to go faster and faster and not get entangled with the ball when lifting ones leg.

However as an adult reflecting back on the rhyme, my mother, Robyn, still believes that there is no special meaning to this game and to the rhyme said with it. The concept of drinking tea is a common occurrence in South Africa where this particular rhyme was learned so that why it is incorporated as it appeals to the typical South African’s lifestyle.

I agree that to the people that play this game the rhyme holds no significance, yet I do believe that when one fully analyzes it, a meaning can be found. The repetition of the word “sir” that is utilized in every line could be used to show the respect that was impressed upon children to bestow upon others. Although it was meant to be just a game, it is taught to children to incorporate an element of reverence by using the word “sir” so frequently.

Additionally I agree that tea was incorporated as tea drinking is such a common beverage found in South Africa. As opposed to the American culture where people will often meet up with friends of family for lunch or dinner, many South Africans will get together simply for a cup of tea. This poem is quite simplistic and mainly serves as a game that consumes a child for an extended period of time even if company is not present. Yet when further examination occurs a small significance in certain words can be found in this lighthearted game.