Rio Kadalis

Layli Goobalay
Other Names: Riya ka
dhalis, Riyo-ka-dhalis
First Description: R.
Pankhurst, 1971
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Somalia

Rio Kadalis ("helping a female goat to give birth") is a mancala game, which is played by the Habr Awal tribe and other clans in Hargheisa and in the Jigjiga area in Somalia. The game was first described by Richard Pankhurst in 1971. Similar games exist in western Eritrea and in some parts of Ethiopia (Tigre, Shoa), e.g. Lahemay Waladat, Lam Waladach, and Lamosh.


Rio Kadalis is played on a board of two rows of six holes (the Habr Awal also use sometimes just five). There are four stones in each hole at the outset of the game.


Initial Position

On his turn a player distributes the contents of one of his holes anti-clockwise (some Somalis also play clockwise), one at a time, into the following 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 or makes a group of four stones, a situation referred to in Somali as binikh ("wasting").

Any groups of four made during a turn belong to the owner of the row, except a group of four effected by binikh, which is won by the player whose hand it was.

The game ends when a player can't move at his turn. The stones that remain are won by the player on whose side of the board they are.

The player who wins more fours wins the round.

For the next round each player fills his holes with four stones from his winnings. 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): 182-183.
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