Mancala World
First Description: Paul
Berger, 1935
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Tanzania

Takti is a mancala game played by the Iraqw, a Cushitic people of the Arusha and Manyara Regions of north-central Tanzania. In 2001, the Iraqw population was estimated to number about 462,000.

It was first observed by Paul Berger in 1935 who learned the rules from Antonio Qamunga Manonga, a resident of Wa/ama.

Takti is played with stones on small wooden boards or the holes are dug in the ground.

The game is played by young and old men up from age 15, that is, by men who are old enough to marry, but never by women. There are really skillful players, but a man who fails "will get no praise" according to Berger. Quite the contrary, the mockery associated with a severe loss evokes images of emasculation, castration and homosexuality.

Takti seems to be related to Boola and Endodoi.


The game is played on a board, which consists of two rows (tleehháan), each one with nine holes (boho; during a game: , which means "house").

Each hole contains three stones (tlaa) at the start of the game.


Initial Position

The first move of the game is performed simultaneously. The players empty the last hole on their right and distribute its contents one by one anticlockwise into the following holes.

If the last stone is dropped into an occupied hole, its contents are distributed in another lap.

The move ends, when the last stone falls into an empty hole.

The following moves are done in turns, starting with the player who finished the simultaneous move first.

They may begin from any hole, which contains enough stones to reach the opponent's row in the first lap.

If a player has no hole that contains enough stones, the player may start his move from any occupied hole of his row.

If the last stone is making a four (except in the first move), this hole becomes a "wife" (haree). Any stone which falls into a wife is owned by her "husband" (i.e. the player who has "married" her).

Neither a move nor a lap may start from a "wife". If the last stone in hand falls into a "wife", the turn ends.

Players can also get a "wife" by "hitting a bull". A "bull (haraduuxún) is a singleton in front of a hole containing three stones, both on the opponent's side. If a player drops his last stone on the "bull" (thus making a two), the "bull" will be "eaten" and becomes the "head" of the "wife" behind. Both holes then serve as accumulation holes.

Players must move if they can, but pass if they can't.

The game ends when all stones are "used up", that is, have been fallen into "wives" and their "heads".

The player who has got more stones in his "wives" (and their "heads") wins.

If a player hasn't married at all, he is called a "cat" (maytsí) and his opponent tells him: "I made you a cat!" (Ugwaa maytsí qáw!).

The game is often played in rounds with players winning or losing holes to their opponent. Then each stone missing to fill a hole is called a "blow on the head".


If a player ends his turn in an empty hole of his own row, he captures the contents of the opposite hole belonging to his opponent, but not from a "wife". The captures are put into a store, if wooden boards are used, or besides the "board", if the holes were dug in the ground.


Berger, P.
Iraqw Texts. Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, Cologne (Germany) 1989.


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