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Qelat (Beni Amir-Mensa)




Eastern Africa


Qelat is a two-row mancala-style board game played by the Beni Amir and Mensa people of Eritrea. This game is typically played by older men, and is played for large stakes. Instead of capturing counters, players create "walda," captured holes in which counters accumulate throughout the game.


2x6 board. Four counters in each hole. Sowing occurs in a clockwise direction when starting from the three holes on the left of the board, and in an anti-clockwise direction when starting from the three holes on the right. Sowing ends when the final counter is dropped, regardless of whether the hole is occupied or not. When the final counter is dropped into a hole containing three counters, thus making it contain four, the hole is captured. This can only be done if the hole is one of the end holes on either side of either row, or the penultimate holes on either side of the opponent's row. Sowing is not allowed from a captured hole. When no player is able to move, the player with the most counters in their captured holes wins.

Pankhurst 1971: 171.


Horn of Africa

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Pankhurst, R. 1971. Gabata and Related Board Games of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia Observer 14(3):154-206.



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