Traditional African Board Games
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19.10.2017

Traditional African Board Games

Board games are extremely popular all over the world. Traditional board games have always occupied a center stage in people’s leisure, across cultures, geographical boundaries and across centuries. Board games, especially traditional African board games have gained more popularity than ever before. There are a variety of different African board games that are simply fun to play. Various board games ascribed to Africa include Congklak, Morabarba, and Manchala, which have been played since ancient times.

Congklak has become very popular in the east, especially in Indonesia. The origin of the Congklak is either in Arabia or in Africa. According to research, this particular game was discovering in the year of 1640 and it is a mighty contender to the crown of being the “oldest board game of the world”. There has been a lot of confusion over the exact origin of this game; some researchers hold that many of the games spread from the northern Arab countries and then to Central Africa. People usually know the game of Congklak by different names. If you were the citizen of an Arab country, you would call this game by the name Mancala, meaning “To move” in English. If you live in a West African country, you would call this game by Awari, meaning houses in English. This game is known by the name “Adi” in Nigeria, meaning “seeds” in English. Due to the immense popularity of the orginal Congklak game, there have been several new versions of the game that are played.

Mancala is one of the oldest board games attributed to Africa. This game was discovered on the east coast of South America and Caribbean, where it spread from the main land of Africa. It further spread to Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka; the game began to be played in many different regions of South Asia. This game was not in the least about luck, strategic calculations were necessary to win dominance over your opponent. Mancala was a mathematical game, and its allure lay in the fact that if you could chalk out your moves astutely, you could easily win the game. A novice player might have a difficult time trying to master the nuances of the game; nevertheless it began its journey from the decks of the cargo ships to the common household. The calculative and strategic game play that is Mancala, offers a lot o interest to its palyers. This game is similar to chess, in spite of its prehistoric origin.

Morabala is another immensely popular traditional board game of Africa. This game is a little similar to the Nine men’s Morris board game. This is also one of the oldest African board games and is being played in some parts of Africa even today. This game is played with 24 nodes that are joined by the lines.

There is a lot of variety when it comes to African board games. There are luck based games, calculation games, and strategy games- all these games will keep any board game lover hooked.
May 6, 2008, 3:14 am


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