Mancala World
First Description: J. H.
Chaplin, 1956
Cycles: Two
Ranks: Four
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Zambia

Mwambulula is a mancala game of the Bemba near Kasama in northern Zambia. The game was first described in Europe in 1956 by J. H. Chaplin in the British journal Man.

The boards are most commonly dug into the ground, the predominantly sandy soil making the excavation of holes quite easy. However, wooden boards are also carved.


A board is used that consists of four rows, each one with eight holes. A player controls the two rows that are closer to him.

At the start the holes in the outer rows contain two seeds, whereas the inner holes are empty. Each player also has 16 seeds in reserve.


Initial Position

On his turn a player distributes the contents of one of his holes that contains at least two seeds anti-clockwise one by one into the following holes of his side.

If the last seed is dropped into a non-empty hole, its contents (including the last seed) are picked up and then distributed in another lap, unless a capture is conducted.

If the last seed falls into an occupied hole in the inner row and the enemy hole directly opposite is also occupied, the contents of both holes in the opponent's opposite file are captured. These enemy seeds are re-entered in a new lap, the sowing beginning at the hole from which the capture was initiated.

A turn ends when the last seed is placed into an empty hole.

Once in a game a player may distribute his reserve by placing in each of his holes one seed. Then, in the same turn, he continues by making an ordinary move as described.

The game ends when a player cannot move.

The player who could move last wins the game.


Chaplin, J. H. 
A Note on Mancala Games in Northern Rhodesia. In: Man: Monthly Record of Anthropological Science 1956; 56 (December): 168-170.
Russ, L. 
The Complete Mancala Games Book: How to Play the World's Oldest Board Games. Marlowe & Company, New York (USA) 2000, 112.

External Links


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