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Bao Kiswahili (DR Congo) (Bao, Bao Ki Swahili, Lusole, Busolo)




Eastern Africa, Middle Africa


Bao Kiswahili is a four-rown mancala-style board game observed in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was particularly popular among Banbubangu and Nonda people, as well as in some larger cities in surrounding regions.


4x8 board. The fifth hole from the left in the inner row is rectangular, the rest are circular. 64 counters. Play begins with one counter in each hole in the inner row. Players take turns placing their remaining counters on the board in their inner rows. When they place a counter, they capture the hole facing it in the opponent's inner row, and sows the counters from either the leftmost or the rightmost hole of the player's inner row, sowing along the inner row. However, if the capture occurs from the rightmost, leftmost, or the next hole adjacent to each in the inner row, the captured pieces must be placed in the leftmost or rightmost hole, whichever is closer. The player may choose which hole to place captured counters in when captures are made from the central four holes in the inner row. If a player cannot capture in this way, they can place a counter into any of the holes in their inner row, pick up the contents of that hole, and sow in either direction. While sowing, if the final counter falls into an occupied hole and the opponent's hole opposite it has counters, the counters in the opponent's hole are captured. If the final counter falls into an occupied hole and the hole opposite it is empty, the counters are picked up and sowing continues in the same direction. If the final counter falls into an empty hole, the turn ends. If during this phase, the opponent's inner row is cleared of counters, the player wins. If all of the counters have been introduced and both players still have counters in their inner row, play proceeds to a second phase. Second Phase: Counters are picked up from any hole on the player's side and sown in either direction. The same capture, sowing, and victory rules apply as before. Captures, however, can only be made on subsequent sowings if there was a capture in the first round of a sowing.

Townshend 1977: 41-43.


Central Africa

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Townshend, P. 1977a. Les jeux de mankala au Zaïre, au Rwanda et au Burundi. Les cahiers du CEDAF 3: 3–76.



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