Mancala World
Bao la Kimasai
Other Names: Bao Masai
First Description: David
MacKay, 2001
Cycles: Two
Ranks: Four
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Tanzania

Bao la Kimasai is a mancala game played by the Masai in the interior of Tanzania. The following rules were reported from Moinget Ole Kuney who works as a medic at a dispensary at Kilimanjaro International Airport.


The game is played on a board ("bao"), which has four rows each with eight holes known as "cattle enclosure" ("enkang"; plural: "inkang'ite"). Each player controls the two rows on his side.

At the start each hole of the inner rows contains one seed. In addition, each player has 24 seeds in reserve. The seeds are called "cows" ("ingishu"; plural: "engiteng") by the Masai.


Initial Positon

The game is played in two parts:

First Part

The players still have seeds in reserve.

On his turn a player puts one seed from his reserve into one of his non-empty holes. Then he sows its contents clockwise, one by one, into the ensuing holes of his side. If the last seed falls into an occupied hole, its contents are distributed in another lap. His turn ends when the last seed is dropped into an empty hole.

  • Exception: The first turn of the game is played without introducing a seed from the reserve. The player just starts his turn by emptying any one of his holes and sowing it clockwise.

Nothing can be captured in the first phase.

Second Part

The second phase starts after the last "cow" had been introduced.

On his turn a player sows the contents of one of his non-empty holes. He may even begin with a hole, which contains just one seed.

If the last stone falls into an occupied hole of the player's inner row, when the opposite hole in the inner row of the opponent is occupied, he "steals" these "cows" from his adversary.

The stolen "cows" are distributed in another lap, dropping the first one into the hole, which effected the capture (that is, the hole opposite to the captured stones). The cows have got a new owner. The move ends, when the last seed falls into an empty hole.

Game End

The game ends when a player has no cows left in his inner row. His opponent wins the game.


MacKay, D.
The Rules of Bao Masai. Moshi (Tanzania) 2001.


Adapted from the Wikinfo article, "Bao la Kimasai", used under the GNU Free Documentation License.