Mancala World
First Description: Bonaventure Mve-
Ondo, 1990
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Single laps (Mve-Ondo) /
Multiple laps (AFRIC’IMPACT)
Region: Gabon, Democratic Repub-
lic of the Congo

Owani, a mancala game closely related to Oware and Songo Ewondo, is played by the Obamba, Bateke and other ethnic groups in Haut-Ogooué Provinve of Gabon and also in the neighboring Republic of the Congo (not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, once also known as Zaire). Two different rulesets were described: the first one in 1990 by Bonaventure Mve-Ondo of the Omar Bongo University in Libreville and a second one in 2000 by the Fédération AFRIC’IMPACT in Grenoble, France. The former description moves Owani even closer to Oware, while the latter mentions a special rule, which makes the game rather unusual. Both authors made numerous counting mistakes in their descriptions.


The game is played according to the rules given for Oware (abapa version), including Grand Slam being permitted, but capturing nothing.

However, it differs as follows:

  • If the last seed falls into an occupied hole of the player's own row, its contents are distributed in another lap. This rule was only given by AFRIC’IMPACT.
  • If a player sows a full round, the 12th seed and all the following ones are only distributed in the opponent's row. This rule was inspired by the game of Songo Ewondo.

External Links


Mve-Ondo, B. M.
L'Owani et le Songa: Deux Jeux de Calculs Africains. Découverts du Gabon. Centre Culturel Français Saint-Exupéry & Sépia Editions, Libreville (Gabon) & Paris (France) 1990.


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