Mancala World
First Description: Diana and
Antoinette Powell-Cotton, 1937
Cycles: Two
Ranks: Four
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Angola, Namibia

Owela is a minor variant of Hus. The game is played by the Oshiwambo-speaking population of Namibia and Angola. The game was promoted by former Namibian president Dr. Samuel Daniel Shafiishuna Nujoma (*1929). He said on July 1, 2002, that the Pan African Centre of Namibia (PACON) is "busy trying to secure sponsorships to organise national championships for the Owela game". It was planned to held competitions in all the regions of Namibia, so that the national champion will be crowned for the first time on Africa Day 2003. Nujoma appealed to the business community to sponsor these games so that Namibia can entrench her own national game. However, no evidence emerged that a tournament was ever held. In 2004, PACON's founder resigned under allegations of misspending money and, in 2010, the organization was critisized by Henny Seibeb, a personal assistant of Swapo secretary general, for being "inactive and not doing what the centre was initially set up to do".

The Owela Museum of Namibia, the former Landesmuseum, which gives an insight into the diverse cultures of Namibia, is named after this game. A strong computer program was developped by Victor Hamutenya, Senior Manager for ICT Infrastructure at Telecom Namibia, and Michael Mikka, computer scientist at the Polytechnic of Namibia in Windhoek.

The game is played by both sexes on gaming grounds, which can be as wide as a house in Katutura, Windhoek's former black township.

Owela is also known in Angola, where it is played by Oshikwanyama speaking people. A game in progress has been documented by Diana and Antoinette Powell-Cotton near the town of Ondjiva in Southern Angola in 1937. It is shown in a film called "A Typical Day in the Life of a Kwanyama Family" (duration 25 minutes 32 seconds). According to world-renowned curator Catherine Moore, copies are held at the Powell-Cotton Museum at Quex Park and prints at the British Film Institute (BFI). In fact, it seems that Diana and Antoinette Powell-Cotton were the first to report "Owela" as being the name for a mancala game.


Owela is played on a four-row board of at least eight holes per row, but no more than 32 and always an even number. The counters are pebbles or murala seeds.

The only difference when compared to Hus is that in the middle of the board there is left a two x two square of holes that have no stones from either player.


Initial Position (4 x 12 Board)


Gallagher, M. & Harlech-Jones, M.
It Costs Almost Nothing: Beneficial Indoor Games from Rubbish and Recycled Materials. John Meinert Printing, Windhoek (Namibia) 2007, 94-95.
Gordon, R. J.
Mines, Masters and Migrants: Life in a Namibian Mine Compound. Ravan Press, Johannesburg (South Africa) 1977, 126.
Nujoma, S.
Statement by His Excellency President Sam Nujoma on the Occasion of the Official Inauguration of PACON House and the Launch of the Owela Game. Windhoek (Namibia) 1st July 2002.
Voogt, A. J. de.
Mancala: Games That Count. In: Expedition 2001; 43 (1): 38-46.


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