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This site is about the Mancalah game as played in Africa and large parts of Asia. For ease of reading this site has been divided in the following sections:
General description of the mancala games
History of the game
Game Rules and Variants
Bookstore and Library
The mancalah group of games comprises a large number of related games played in Africa and parts of Asia. The common characteristics are that they are played on a board of 2, 3 or 4 rows, each with a number of cups. The players pickup the beans, pebbles or shells from a cup and distribute them along other cups. Good play requires a good sense of counting. The names are as varied as the rules: bao, kalah, mancalah, oware, owari, ourri and pungka.
Besides hundreds of regional variants, recent years have seen an upsurge in commercial variants.
I do not attempt to describe them all here. Rather, I will describe a few variants which are typical for this family. Knowledge of this variants should enable you to pick up most local variants quickly. If you desire more specialist knowledge, or the description of other local variants not described here, please consult our book store.
Throughout this site we will refer to 'beans', the little objects in the cups. Some tribes actually use beans, other regions use shells or pebbles. It doesn't matter what you use, as long as there are many of them, they are not large, and they all look equal.
James Masters has an excellent section on the history of mancalah games.
Game Rules & Variants:
Bookstore and Library
Our bookstore is open, so you can order books on this fascinating game through Amazon. Also some out of print literatue is mentioned, but you'll have to query libraries for these books.
Paul Dexter offers a simple dos game. for download. You have to know the game, as he does not (yet) provide a readme file with the rules.
CASEY FLORESCA , a kid model, offers a wari game (dos) for download, as well as a mancalah for windows. Both are compared to sungka, a Philippine version of mancalah.
Tribung Pinoy is another site to offer sungka. This is the dos-version.
Playsite has a good looking site, mentions the rules as used at playsite, and maintains mancalah player ratings.
The Game Cabinet offers the rules for Bao as played in Zanzibar and as played in Malawi.
Sheila Stevens provides an interactive game, very much worth giving it a try!
Sheila added Awari in March 2000, another well known member of the Mancalah family.
If you have suggestions for improving this site, please e-mail me.
Copyright to this site and all rules belongs to Teun Spaans, The Hague, Netherlands, January 1999. Reproduction on paper or electromagnetic medium for commercial purposes is not allowed without written consent of Teun Spaans.