in ,

Games Played in Africa That You Should Know About

Board games have been played in Africa for thousands of years and you can find information about ten of them in the list below. One of the oldest known board games in the world is Senet from Egypt. Unfortunately no one wrote down the rules, so historians have had to make them up. Many of Africa’s traditional board games can be played using materials found in nature. Seeds and stones make perfect game pieces, and boards can be scratched into dirt, dug out of the ground, or drawn on a piece of paper. Mancala is an African board game that is played worldwide, there are in fact hundreds of versions played in Africa.
Two men playing wari board game, close-up - Peter Adams/The Image Bank/Getty Images

1.  Mancala, Oware, Bao (Throughout Africa)

Mancala is one of oldest games in the world, dating back thousands of years. Pits have been found carved into the roofs of ancient Egyptian tombs in Luxor and Thebes. I grew up playing bao in Malawi, some of you may know the game as mancala, oware, ayo, omweso, enkeshui or aweet. There are in fact more than 200 versions of this “count and capture” game, played throughout Africa, all with slightly different rules In North and West Africa it’s common to use two rows of pits, in Ethiopia they play with 3 rows, and in East and southern Africa, they play with four rows. Some games have “stores” at the end of each board, others do not.Morabaraba, Traditional African Board Game - © Anouk Zijlma

2.  Morabaraba or Umlabalaba (Southern Africa) & Shax (Somalia)

Morabaraba is a traditional African game played by many in South Africa. A version called Shax is also popular in Somalia and Achi in Ghana. All of them are similar to 3, 6, 9 or 12 Mens Morris played in Europe, but the true origin of the game is still in question. Morabaraba in southern Africa was used to teach herd boys appreciation for tactical thinking. The game pieces are called “cows” and the object is to form “mills” or rows of three in order to “shoot” one of the opponents “cows”. Rules differ from region to region, but a standard set of rules can be found here.

Senet, Ancient Egyptian Board Game -

3.  Senet (Egypt)

Senet is one of the world’s oldest board games. A lovely painting in the tomb of Egyptian Queen Nefertari depicts her playing Senet, it dates back to 1295 BC. The Senet game board is a grid of thirty squares, arranged in three rows of ten. Apparently, the original rules were passed along verbally, because no written form has been found. Each player has a set of 5 pawns, and what to do with them has been left up to educated guesses by two historians. The rules they devised created a game that is similar to backgammon. Four sticks, black on one side and white on the other, are used like dice to move the pawns 1,2,3,4 and/or 6 paces Zamma, Traditional African Board Game -


4.  Zamma, Dhamet (North Africa)

Zamma is a traditional game played in North Africa. It is a bit similar to Alquerque the grandfather of checkers. The board is square with 9 rows across and 9 down. Each player gets 40 pieces, black (called men) and white (called women). Black starts to play first. The pieces follow the pattern of the board, can only move forward, and capture their opponents by hopping over them. If a piece reaches the opposite end of the board it is promoted, like a King in draughts (checkers) and can then move in all directions. Zamma boards have been found dating back to 1400 BC, but modern rules appear to have been influenced by checkers and vary slightly from region to region.

Fanorona, traditional Board Game, Madagascar - © Games from Everywhere

5.  Fanorona (Madagsacar)

Fanorona is very popular board game in Madagascar. It’s been played for hundreds of years, legend has it that in the 1500’s a King’s son was so busy playing the game, he lost his chance to inherit land from his father. Fanorona is similar to Zamma (see above), they both share a common ancestry with Alquerque. A Fanorona board is a 9×5 grid pattern where some pieces can move diagonally as well as forward and backward. Each player has 22 pieces and the object of the game is to capture all your opponents pieces. See these rules for the correct set up and how to play. Variations exist, usually with smaller boards but similar rules of play.

Seega, Ancient Board game, Egypt - © Geoludie

6.  Seega (Egypt)

Seega is a traditional board game played in parts of North and West Africa. It’s thought to have originated in Egypt in the 1800’s, but could be much older. This two player game is played on a 5×5 board, usually with stones or marbles. Each player has 12 pieces which are placed on the board two at a time, in turn. Once strategically placed, the capturing begins by “sandwiching” an opponents’ piece. A central square on the board is a safety zone. Rules differ, as do board sizes from region to region. Find basic rules for Seega here. Seega is easy to make yourself using pennies and paper.

Gulgulfe, Butterfly Game, traditional Board game Mozambqiue - © Games from Everywhere
Gulgulfe, Butterfly Game, Mozambqiue. 

7.  Butterfly (Mozambqiue)

Butterfly is a game of skill that is played in Mozambique. It is similar to checkers (draughts), but the board is shaped differently. The game board is basically, two triangles joined together at a point, in the shape of a butterfly. Each player has nine pieces which they place on each side of the board. They capture their opponents by hopping over them, using the 19 intersection points and hopping into available empty spaces. A very similar game called Felli in Morocco is played on a smaller 6×6 board. And Lau kata kati is also closely related and played in South Asia. Games from Everywhere has a lovely board for sale, or you can simply draw the board on a piece of paper and use buttons or coins as pieces.

Tsoro Yematatu, Zimbabwe Traditional Game - Cincinnati Art Museum
Tsoro Yematatu, Zimbabwe. Cincinnati Art Museum

8.  Tsoro Yematatu (Zimbabwe)

Tsoro Yematatu is a simple two player strategy game that is thought to have originated in Zimbabwe. The board is a basic triangle with two equal sides. Each player gets three game pieces each. There are 7 points where pieces can be placed, three along each side and one in the middle. The aim is to create a row of three with your color pieces. You can jump over your opponent into an empty space. This game can last a while and end in a draw, so some rules state you cannot jump over your opponent.

Kharbaga, Strategy Game, Africa -

9.  Kharbaga (Mauritania, North Africa)

Kharbaga is very similar to Zamma. The boards are smaller (usually 5×5 or 4×4 grids with squares) but pieces are allowed to move in more directions. Each player has 20 pieces. Players alternative their turns, can move one piece at a time and capture their oponents by hopping over them. Similar to checkers (draughts) the pieces can only move in a forward direction until they are crowned “king” or “mullah” by reaching the opposite end of the board.

10.  Dara, Derrah or Doki (Nigeria)

Dara is a game that’s been played in Nigeria for several hundred years, it’s a bit similar to tic-tac-toe (noughts and crosses). The game is traditionally played by the Dakarkari people. The board is made up of squares in a 5×6 grid (sometimes a 6×7 grid). Each player has 12 stones which they drop alternately into the empty squares. When a player has three in a row, they can take out an enemy piece (in this way similar to Morabaraba). A player wins when his/her opponent cannot form three in a row.



Written by PH

One Comment

Leave a Reply
  1. Official Sbobet Indonesia Agent

    Sbobet is a gambling company that has been much in need by the people associated with Indonesia.
    Unfortunately, choosing football gambling games on the net nowadays cannot be done randomly because not all Sgd777 Indonesia agents provide the same service even between those who use the
    title of the Agent like a cover for committing crimes for example fraud,
    theft and embezzlement.

    Of course since a fan of online gambling games you need to remain cautious and attempt hard
    to prevent these undesirable losses. For this reason, in this particular article, we want
    in order to give you a couple of tips and tricks that
    you can do to ensure that you are able to continue to revenue while playing
    online betting on the internet.

    Features of Trusted Football Betting Agents
    The most essential thing that you can know, especially for those of you who else are just starting to join are some standards
    which a Sbobet Indonesia agent must have in order that
    it will become easier for you to choose because a playing partner.

    Listed below are some of the requirements that must be had by Sbobet Official gambling agents:
    – Customer support or customer support that is always active twenty four hours a day.

    – Game variants complete along with international standard products.

    – Serve various techniques of economic transactions and can end up being done through leading local banks.

    – Provides video games from various well-known companies for example Sbobet, Nova88, Maha168 while others.

    – Do not have a minimum or even maximum limit to spend the winnings.

    The several conditions above are the particular minimum conditions that need to be owned by a new trusted online betting internet site.

    So make sure the particular site you choose fulfills the five criteria over.

    Reasons for Choosing the Depobola Sbobet Agent Spouse
    Choosing a site amongst millions of agents that are spread on the web is not an easy problem.
    It may take days or even months if an individual have to search with regard to yourself, you will sense
    tired one which just even commence the game.
    Therefore all of us want to simplify your own work here so
    you can immediately play and have more benefits from
    sportsbook games.
    Depobola is a new site that connects on the internet gambling fans using a variety of international
    quality gambling games provided by trustworthy gambling companies such since Sbobet.

    Official Sbobet Agent Depobola has obtained a great official license straight
    from the Sbobet provider to spread out entry for possible customers to all variants
    of typically the game which may have been supplied.
    Employing Depobola as the playing partner, players immediately get an abundant income that players
    will not get from other Sbobet Philippines agent sites
    in Dalam negri. Here are some regarding the strengths of Depobola:

    – Easy and Convenient Deposit Method
    We possess collaborated with several popular local banks in Philippines to
    ensure that the deposit can be done comfortably in addition to safely.

    Players also do not need to create a deposit in foreign currency because we
    likewise accommodate customers who create deposits in rupiah.

    In the event the player is not comfy creating a deposit through a new bank
    account which you have, the Player does not require to worry since
    there are additional deposit options that gamers can do, namely via OVO
    payment services. The particular minimum deposit is likewise low so the player
    doesn’t need to hesitate to be able to try first having fun with Depobola.

    – Seductive Bonuses plus Promos
    The advantage that will players can get along
    with Depobola is not simply from winning hanging
    around but also bonuses and promos provided solely for the particular benefit of loyal members who have chosen us since playing
    – Effortless and Fast Sign up
    Getting an official member by means of Depobola is very simple,
    it takes only a few minutes, you can immediately join the
    game. All you need to do is click on the “REGISTER” button in the top of this particular page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


8 Extraordinary Things Happening in the World, That Most People Haven’t Noticed

Utility Line Workers: One of the Top 10 Most Dangerous Professions