|Other Names: Fifangha|
|First Description: Étienne|
de Flacourt, 1658
|Sowing: Multiple laps|
Katra Fandatsaka (from latsaka "to fall") was first described under the name of Fifangha by the French traveller Étienne de Flacourt (1607–1660) who observed the game among the Sakalava in the north-west of Madagascar in 1658. The Sakalava people, which occupy the Western edge of the island from Toliara in the south to Sambirano in the north. They speak several dialects of the Malagasy language, which is a branch of the Malayo-polynesian language group derived from the Barito languages spoken in southern Borneo and are numbering approximately 700,000 in population. In 1909, the complete rules were given by André-Jean Dandouau (1874-1929). The game appears to be a precursor of modern-day Bao la Kiswahili.
The rules of Katra Fandatsaka are similar to Bao la Kiswahili. The following differences have been reported by Dandouau:
- The game starts with the set-up shown below and each player keeps 26 seeds (fandatsoka) in reserve.
- There are no nyumbas and, therefore, none of the rules associated with them which make Bao la Kiswahili such a difficult game to learn.
- 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.
- There is no takasia rule.
Many specific words and expressions are used to describe the game.
|Malagasy||Equivalent term in Bao la Kiswahili||Literal English translation||English meaning|
|fanaovan-katra (1), fikatrahana (2), laharana (3), fanga (4)||bao||Katra base (1), (?) (2), alignment (3), Katra board (4)||game board for playing Katra|
|amparalakana||kichwa||end of the range||endholes at either end of the inner AND the outer rows|
|ambani-trano||(?)||behind the house||outer row|
|chibon||kimbi||natural hole in the ground||turning base (the two holes at either end of the inner rows)|
|ratolalaka (1), bassy (2)||komwe (kete)||stones, which cannot be compressed (1), ball (2)||nickernuts used as counters|
|vatolalaka||namu||(?)||1. storage for the reserve seeds; 2. reserve seeds|
|vary be||(?)||big rice||most loaded hole|
|fotsiny (1), latsaka (2)||kunamua||to move in blank (1), to fall (2)||playing a reserve seed|
|homana||kula||to eat||to capture|
|mandry||kulala||to sleep||move ending in an empty hole|
|mameno-atrika||utitiri (?)||filling the empty ones||special technique of defense and attack involving singletons in the front row|
|kamo||(?)||lazy||said about the loser|
- Dandouau, A.-J.
- Jeux Malgaches. In : Bulletin de l'Académie Malgache 1909; 7: 81-97.
- Flacourt, E. de.
- Histoire de la Grande Isle Madagascar. Paris (France) 1658, 108-110.
- Freeman, J. J. & Johns, D.
- A Dictionary of the Malagasy Language. London Missionary Society, Antananarivo (Madagascar) 1835.