Mancala World
First Description: Richard
Pankhurst, 1971
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Ethiopia

Sadeqa is the generic name for mancala games known in the southwest of Ethiopia and nearby South Sudan.

This particular variant is played by the Jimma who live in western Ethiopia. It was described as Sadéqa V (Game 84) by Richard Pankhurst, who stated that it used to be a popular pastime at the court of Abba Jifar. While the king had wooden boards called bolo sadéqa, boys simply dug holes in the ground, and women were not allowed to play the game at all.


The game is played on a board of 2x10=20 holes. Initially each hole contains four seeds.


Initial Position

Seeds (lon) are distributed counter-clockwise, one by one, in a multi-lap fashion into the following holes until the last seed is dropped into an empty hole, a warana ("speared") or an opponent's hole containing exactly three seeds thus making a four (a warana). A move may begun from any hole of your own side, except a warana.

A warana can only be made on the opponent's side and is said to be owned by his creator.

When the last seed falls into a warana that is owned by his opponent, he captures it and another seed of that warana. If the warana was empty, the player captures only one seed. In any case the player makes a bonus move by starting from any hole of his side which is not a warana.

The move ends if the last seed is dropped into an empty hole, creates a warana or falls into a warana which is owned by the player.

Passing is not permitted as long as there is a legal move.

The game ends when all remaining seeds are in warana, i.e. neither player has a legal move left.

Each player has as many points as he has captured seeds and has seeds in his warana at the end of the game. The player with most points wins.


A warana benefits its creator, if it is in his opponent's first hole. A simple strategy is to prevent your opponent making such a warana, while not creating a warana yourself unless it is located in the first hole of the opponent. If both players know this strategy a game will probably continue forever.

Endgame Problem

Sadeqa Endgame.jpg

Endgame: South to move and win!


Gering, R. 
Selus and Sadéqa: African Warrior Games. In: Abstract Games Magazine 2003; 4 (16): 16-17, 23.
Pankhurst, R. 
Gabata and Related Board Games of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. In: Ethiopia Observer 1971; 14 (3): 199.
Russ, L. 
The Complete Mancala Games Book: How to Play the World's Oldest Board Games. Marlowe & Company, New York (USA) 2000, 51.


2(a)/8/3/9/4/10/1/1/10/4/2/5/3/1-3;6-10/1-5. South wins 41 : 39 points.

If (a) 10??/2/2/1/3/2/4/8-10/1-4, then South loses 36 : 44 points.


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