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Owela (Benguela)





Middle Africa


Board, Sow, Four rows.


Owela is a four-row mancala-style board game popular among the Umbundu speaking people of southwest Africa. It is played by men and boys, and can be played by tow players or on teams. The game is played in four rows of twelve holes, up to twenty, with even numbers preferred. It is not played on a board but in hollows made in the ground.


Play begins with a number of counters that is three times the number of holes in a row minus two for a game with an even number of holes in a row; three times the number of holes minus one for odd. Counters are distributed beginning in the leftmost hole in the outer row, placing two counters in each hole in an anti-clockwise direction. Play begins from any of the player's holes, sowing anti-clockwise. When the final counter lands in an occupied hole, these are picked up and sowing continues, unless a capture can be made. Captures are made when the final counter falls into an occupied hole in the inner row, and the opponent's hole opposite contains counters. If it is, they are captured, and if the hole in to outer row opposite also contains counters, these are also captured. These are then sown from the hole following the one from which the capture occurred. If the final counter falls into an empty hole, the turn is over. Single counters cannot be sown. Play ends when one player cannot move.

Silva 1995: 75-82.


Southwest Africa

Ludeme Description

Owela (Benguela).lud

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Silva, E. R. S. 1995. Jogos do quadrícula do tipo mancala com especial incidência nos praticados em Angola. Lisbon: Instituto de investigação cientifica tropical.



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