Skip Navigation

 Museum Explorer

Daily life in Africa

Mancala board

Length: 63.000 cm
Width: 22.500 cm
Height: 25.000 cm
Weight: 3.600 kg

AOA 1953 Af25.10

Mancala board

From: Sierra Leone, Africa
Date: 20th century AD

Mancala is just one name for a popular game played across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East. The game has many different names around the world, such as ayo in Nigeria and wari across West Africa and the Caribbean. The rules also vary, but generally pieces or seeds are dropped or ‘sowed’ into the holes on the board, then ‘captured’ or scooped up. The aim is to capture more pieces than your opponent. It is a noisy, fast game and players often shout as they play.

Mancala is easy to play anywhere -  boards can be dug into the sand or dirt, or even carved into rock. This one is in the shape of a wheelbarrow and is made of wood. Game pieces are seeds, shells or whatever comes in handy.

You can buy mancala sets in most countries, including the UK, if you fancy playing it yourself.