Mancala World
Songo Douala
First Description: P. H. G.
Powell-Cotton, 1931
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Cameroon

Songo Douala (also spelled Songo Duala in English, Portuguese and Spanish literature) is a regional variation of Songo Ewondo played by the Douala people in Cameroon. The game was first described by Major P. H. G. Powell-Cotton in 1931. Harold James Ruthven Murray wrongly stated that the game is played on a 2x6 board (according to Powell-Cotton it has 2x7 pits) and Elísio Romariz Santos Silvain copied this error in his Ph.D. thesis about mancala games although he pretended to have read Powell-Cotton's article. Later Jordi Climent Tondo added several more mistakes such as counterclockwise play (clockwise is correct) and captures on either side of the board (in fact, it can only be captured on the opponent's side).


Songo Douala is played on a mancala board of 2 x 7 holes. At each end there is a big store for the captured counters. A player controls the row on his side of the board.

Initially each hole contains eight seeds.


Initial Position

On his turn a player sows the contents of one of his holes, one by one, clockwise (!) into the ensuing holes.

If the last seed is dropped into an opponent's hole which then contains two, three or four seeds, they are captured and put into the player's store. If the previous-to-last seed also brought the hole to two, three or four seeds, these are captured as well, and so on.

The rules given by Powell-Cotton are incomplete. It can be assumed that the game is basically played like Songo Ewondo, that means (1) the original hole is skipped, when it contained 14 seeds or more, (2) a player must feed his opponent, if he has nothing left in his row and (3) there might be a proscription against capturing all the opponent's seeds in one move.

The game ends when a player cannot move.

The remaining seeds are awarded to the player who owns their holes.

The player who captured most seeds wins the game.


According to Powell-Cotton several variants exist:

  • captures of twos and threes (this game is basically a variant of Oware)
  • captures of threes and fours
  • captures of twos and fours (this game appears to be a variant of Songo Ewondo)
  • the contents of the two adjacent holes of the one of which the last seed was dropped are captured, if they contain the agreed number, but not the seeds of the other preceding holes

External Links


Murray, H. J. R.
A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess. Oxford University Press, Oxford (England) 1951, 184-185.
Powell-Cotton, P. H. G.
A Mancala Board Called Songo. In: Man: A Monthly Record of Anthropological Science 1931; 31: 123 plus Plate G.
Santos Silva, E. R.
Jogos de quadrícula do tipo de Mancala com especial incidência nos practicados em Angola. Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical, Lisboa (Portugal) 2005.


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