Mancala World
Katra Be
Other Names: Katra
First Description: André-
Jean Dandouau, 1909
Cycles: Two
Ranks: Four
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Madagascar

Katra Be (sometimes spelled with a hyphen: Katra-be), also known as Katra Sakalava, is the most challenging Bao variant played by the Sakalava in north-western Madagascar. The terminology is similar to Katra Fandatsaka except for the rova, which didn't exist in the more basic variant. The game was first described by André-Jean Dandouau (1874-1924) in 1909. In 1999, the game was briefly described by de Voogt who claimed that the game is almost identical to Zanzibarian Bao. Either the Zanzibarian rules have replaced those used by the Sakalava in the early 20th century or de Voogt erred in his report.


The rules of Katra Be are similar to Bao la Kiswahili. The following differences have been reported by Dandouau:

  • The game starts with the set-up shown below.


Initial Position

  • The two holes containing three seeds initially are called rova and have special properties reminiscent of the nyumba in Bao la Kiswahili.
It is permitted to start or to continue a move from the rova of the front row in either phase of the game.
If the contents of the inner rova are sown, all of its contents plus the contents of the outer rova are distributed.
A move may never start from the rova of the back row, nor may it be continued from there, but must stop.
A rova can never be reconstructed once it has been destroyed by a sowing.
If the contents of the inner rova are captured, the seeds in the outer rova are also captured.
  • It is permitted to capture by sowing the contents of a hole, which contains more than 16 seeds.
  • It is permitted to empty the front row, but it loses the game.
  • Originally there was no takasia rule. De Voogt, however, mentions the rule and states that it differs from Bao as follows: "Takasia of the house is possible."


Dandouau, A.-J.
Jeux Malgaches. In : Bulletin de l'Académie Malgache 1909; 7: 81-97.
Voogt, A. J. de.
Distribution of Mancala Board Games: A Methodological Inquiry. In: Board Games Studies 1999; 2: 104-114.


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