Mancala World

Kpo → Portuguese.

Other Names: Poo
First Description: Stewart
Culin, 1894
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Liberia

Kpo is an Oware variant of the Vei in Liberia. It was first described by Stewart Culin in 1894 who learned the game from Prince Momolu Massaquoi, son of the King of the Vei tribe. The Golah play a related mancala game, which they call Kboo or Boo (described by Collins in 1910). The latter is, however, much more similar to Oware.

Ordinary people play Kpo on large wooden boards, while the chiefs often use very expensive ones made of ivory and ornamented with gold. In the 19th century, some boards cost up to 20 slaves. The counters ("kpo kunje") are either ivory balls or sea beans (Mucuna spec.), which grow on vines.


Kpo can be played by two, three or four people. The board has two rows each which six holes ("kpo sing" or "kpo kungo").


Initial Position (Two Players)

If two play, each player owns the row on his side of the board. If three play, the board is divided transversely into three parts. If four play, each takes three holes on one side.


Initial Position (Three Players)

Initially every hole contains four counters, when two play, but just three counters, when three or four play.

Sowing is single-lap. Counters are sown counterclockwise, when there are just two players. They can be sown in either direction, if three or four play.


Initial Position (Four Players)

If the last counter falls into a hole, which contains one or two counters, thus making a two or a three, these counters are "killed" ("fá").

Kpo board

Then Culin's description lacks clarity, so his account is quoted in full:

" (...) but when three or four play, when one completes two or three in a hole by his play, he takes those, in the next hole forward. When a man takes a piece, with one next to it, he uses his fingers to squeeze the pieces into his hand, the operation being called "squeezing" (boti), but this can only be done when one of the pieces is in one of the player's own cups and the other one or two in that of an opponent."

External Links


Collins, G. N.
Kboo: A Liberian Game. In: The National Geographic Magazine 1910; 83 (11): 944-948.
Culin, S. 
Mancala: The National Game of Africa. In: Report of the National Museum 1894, 597-611.


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