Arts + Culture
Photo by Narasimman Jayaraman via Flickr/Creative Commons.

Here's What Africa's Most Cherished Board Game Is Called Across the Continent and Diaspora

We all remember the game, but it goes by many names in Africa and the diaspora. Here's a sample of them.

Picture it. The wooden board with six pits on each side. The four round seeds that sit in each gourd. The satisfying sound the seeds make when you drop them in each pit, one by one. And of course the sweet accomplishment of getting to pick up seeds from your opponent's side on the other half of the board.

You know that game.


Maybe you played it on a beautiful, ornate hand carved board with seeds that were round and smooth. Or maybe you dug out holes in the earth and played with stones you found on the ground. Or maybe it was just an old set that had been in your family for years- not particularly decorative or special, but the game you could depend on to pass the hours after you'd grown tired of play that involved running, and TV wasn't an option. Or maybe you watched uncles and male cousins play it for hours with concentration that was only broken with an exclamation or snapping fingers when someone picked up from several pits after many moments of contemplative strategy.

We all remember the game.

It's played all over Africa and the diaspora, with variations on the rules worldwide. But to talk about it usually involves some description because it goes by a different name just about everywhere.

After posting a video where the game is called "choro" in Uganda on Instagram, OkayAfrica asked you to weigh in to let us know what it's called where you're from and the comments were lit.

A tiny brief history:

The game has been traced back to ancient Egypt where pits were found carved into roofs of tombs. Some sources cite up to 200 different versions of the game. If you're not in a place where you can easily find it, and are thinking of getting a set for nostalgia's sake, you can buy it online or even play it on your phone.

This following list is based on reader comments and is in no way definitive.

Enjoy the memories and take a look at the different names of the game below:

1. Ghana

Oware

2. Zambia

Insolo

3. Ivory Coast

Awalé

4. Nigeria

Ayo

Ayoayo

Oko

Ncholokoto

5. Kenya & Malawi

Boa

6. U.S. Diaspora

Mancala

Kalaha

7. Caribbean Diaspora

Wari or Warri

8. Cape Verde

Uril

Ouri

9. Uganda

Choro

Omweso

10. Botswana & South Africa

Morabaraba

11. Egypt

Senet

12. Tanzania

Mbao

13. Ethiopia

Gabeti

14. Zimbabwe

Tsoro

15. Democratic Republic of Congo

Sombi

16. Mozambique

Muravarava

Ntxuva


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