Mancala World
Bao Kingulu
First Description: Martin
Klamroth, 1911
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Tanzania

Bao Kingulu is played by Ngulu-speaking people in east-central Tanzania. In 1987 the Ngulu-speaking population was estimated to number 132,000. Most of them are traders and agriculturalists. The game was first described by Martin Klamroth in 1911.


The game is played on a board with two rows of six holes each. Initially each hole contains four seeds.

Each player owns one half of the board.


Initial Position

Players take turns moving the seeds.

On his turn a player distributes the contents of one of his holes counterclockwise, putting one seed into each of the ensuing holes.

If the last seed is dropped into an occupied hole, its contents are distributed in another lap unless it fell into an opponent's hole which had exactly 3 seeds.

It is not permitted to play move, if the last seed of its first lap falls into an occupied hole of the player's own row unless it is a hole that had been captured by his opponent (see below).

A move stops, when the last seed falls into an empty hole or an opponent's hole containing 3 seeds.

If the last seed is placed in an empty hole owned by the player, he captures all contents of the opposite hole together with the capturing piece. If the opposite hole is empty, nothing is captured.

If the last seed of a lap makes a four in an opponent's hole, this hole is captured ("kuweka mtoto" = "to reserve a child"). The last but one seed of the capturing move is added to the hole too unless the capture was effected by a singleton.

The seeds which fall into a reserved hole are captured by its owner.

If a player has no move left, the game ends.

At the end of the game each player owns the seeds in his holes (including those he has captured in his opponent's row) and the seeds he has captured.

The player who got more seeds wins the game. The game is a draw, when both players captured 24 seeds.


© Ralf Gering
Under the CC by-sa 2.5 license.