Mancala World
Lahemay Waladat
First Description: R.
Pankhurst, 1971
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Ethiopia (Tigré)

Lahemay Waladat ("my cow has given birth") is a mancala game widely known in the Maqalé area of southern Tigré, Ethiopia. The game was was first described by Richard Pankhurst in 1971 as Game 17. Similar games exist in Western Eritrea and Somalia.


Lahemay Waladat is played on a board of two rows of of six holes. The game starts with four stones in each hole.


Initial Position

The right to start the game is decided by a hand-play referred to in Tigrinya as shekut. To begin with, the two players are holding hands as in a handshake. After breaking the hold, they would either expose the first finger, last three fingers or the open hand with fingers side by side. A player who displayed his first finger defeates one with three fingers, three fingers defeats the hand, and the hand the first finger.

On his turn a player distributes the contents of one of his holes anti-clockwise, one at a time, into the succeeding holes.

If the last stone is sown into an occupied hole, its contents are distributed in another lap.

The move ends when the last stone falls into an empty hole.

Groups of three stones made during a turn belong to the owner of the row, except a group of three that was effected by the last stone in hand which is won by the player whose hand it was. The latter kind of capture, however, does not terminate the move. The player would continue to move until his last stone in hand is placed in an empty hole (in other words, the player gets a bonus move).

The game ends when a player cannot move at his turn. The remaining stones are won by the player who could move last.

The player who wins more threes wins the round.

For the next round each player fills his holes with four stones from his winnings. If a player has one surplus stone, he cedes it to his opponent who can then together with his own surplus of three stones would open another hole. If each player has a surplus of two stones, their ownership is decided by shekut. Any holes that could not be filled are closed down with sand, but can be re-opened in a later round.

The aim of the game is to close down all the opponent's holes, that is to reduce his provision to less than four stones.


Pankhurst, R.
Gabata and Related Board Games of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. In: Ethiopia Observer 1971; 14 (3): 173.


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