Mancala World
First Description: Richard
Pankhurst, 1971
Cycles: Two
Ranks: Four
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Ethiopia, South

Baré is a mancala game, which is played by the Anuak people who live in Ethiopia and South Sudan. It is a relaxation of menfolk, young and old alike. The holes (called oto; that is "house") are usually dug in the ground, but wooden boards or receptacles of dried mud also exist. The counters (nyi baro; literally "child of baré") are pebbles, seeds or balls made of dried mud.

The game is based on much counting and calculation.

Baré was first described by Richard Pankhurst in 1971. A minor variant of the game is Tok Ku Rou.


The game board consists of four rows each of 12 holes with two counters per hole.

Each player owns two rows and only plays in those rows, but tries to capture counters from his opponent's side.


Initial Position

The first move is performed simultaneously. The first player who reaches an empty hole starts the first move of the second stage of the game. Nothing can be captured in the first stage.

After the first move, players move alternately.

On his turn, a player distributes the contents of one of his holes one by one in the following holes anticlockwise. If the last counter falls into a non-empty hole, its contents are distributed in another lap until the last counter is dropped into an empty hole.

A hole from which a move is initiated must contain at least two counters.

If the last stone lands in an occupied hole of the inner row and the two enemy holes opposite are both occupied, the stones of these two holes are captured.

The captured counters are sown into the ensuing holes starting from the hole that immediately follows the one which had effected the capture.

If a player failed to pick up his captures, his opponent may move them together in one of the two holes in question, so that they can no longer be captured.

The game ends when a player is no longer able to move, because he has been reduced to single counters. His opponent wins the game.


Bell, R. C. 
Discovering Old Board Games. Shire Publications Ltd, Aylesbury (England) 1973, 67-68.
Pankhurst, R. 
Gabata and related Board Games of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. In: Ethiopia Observer 1971; 14 (3): 203.


© Wikimanqala.
By: Ralf Gering.
Under the CC by-sa 2.5.