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

Hufesay (Tigrinya for: "collecting") is played in the Maychew area (Tigray Region) in Ethiopia. The town of Maychew is the administrative center of Endamehoni woreda and has a population of about 35,000. The game was first described by the British ethiopist Richard Pankhurst in 1971.


The game requires a board and 48 counters.

A board has two rows of six holes. Each player controls the six holes on his side of the board.

Initially there are four counters in each hole


Initial Position

Players take turns moving the seeds.

On a turn, a player sows the contents of one of his six holes, dropping one counter into each of the ensuing holes in counter-clockwise direction.

If the last counter falls into an occupied hole, its contents are lifted and distributed in a new lap until the last counter is dropped into an empty hole.

The move then ends.

If the last counter fell into an empty hole in the player's own row and the opponent's hole opposite to it was occupied, the player captures the contents of the hole in opposition are captured. They are removed from the board and "collected" (hufesay). Unlike to many other mancala games, the counter effecting the capture is, however, not captured and is left on the board.

A player must move, if he can, but must pass if he can't. He resumes moving, when he got counters on his side again.

Pankhurst didn't state what happens with the last counter that cannot be captured. Probably the last counter is won by the player who captures the penultimate counter in the game. Another possibility might be that the last counter is considered as neutral, which would prevent draws.

The player with the most counters wins.


Pankhurst, R. 
Gabata and related Board Games of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. In: Ethiopia Observer 1971; 14 (3): 174.


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