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Njombwa DLP Game   

Period Modern

Region Eastern Africa

Category Board, Sow, Four rows


Njombwa is a four-row mancala-style board game played by the Yao people of East Africa.


4x8 board, occasionally 4x9 or 10. 29 counters in each player's leftmost hole in their outer row, two in the hole to the right of it and one in the hole to the right of that one. Sowing occurs in an anti-clockwise direction in the player's two rows. Each player begins with a stylised move, by sowing the contents of the hole with two counters. Players alternate turns sowing only from their hole with two counters. When finally a single counter is sown into an inner-row hole that is opposite a hole with a single counter in the opponent's inner row, this counter is captured. The opponent then sows their two remaining counters, capturing two from the opponent. Then, the players sow from their hole with 29 counters, picking up the contents of a hole when the final counter lands in an occupied hole, ending the turn when the final counter lands in an empty hole. When both players have completed this phase, the main phase of the game begins. Players sow from any hole in their two rows. When the final counter lands in an occupied hole, these counters are picked up and sowing continues. When the final counter lands in an empty hole in the inner row, the counters in the opponent's opposite hole in their inner row are captured. If there are also counters in the opponent's opposite hole in the outer row, these are also captured, but only when a capture from the inner row was also made. Players cannot sow single counters, unless there are no holes with multiple counters left, in which case single counters may be sown into an empty hole. Play continues until one player has captured all of the opponent's counters, thus winning the game.

Sanderson 1913: 732-733.


East Africa

Ludeme Description



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Murray 1951: 208-209.

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Murray, H.J.R. 1951. A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Sanderson, M. 1913. "Native Games of Central Africa." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 43: 726-736.

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Njombwa (Two Counters)



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