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

Tegre, also spelled Tegré, is played by the Dorzé people in Ethiopia. It is exclusively played by males

The Dorze are a small ethnic group in Ethiopia who speak a language in the Omotic family. Numbering approximately 28,000, they live primarily in the south of the country, though some have migrated to Addis Ababa and other regions.

Tegre was first described by Richard Pankhurst in 1971 whose informants were Adan Napa, Tobé Tosebi, Demissie Toti, and Haile Gabriel Demissie. It was also observed by the American anthropologist Judy Olmstead. She was told that the game is called Tegre because "it is a pastime of the caste of that name, which supposedly descended from immigrants from Tigre province".


The board has 2x6 holes ("hola"). Initially there are four seeds in each hole. Each player owns the row closest to him.


Initial Position

Each move starts with a player picking up the contents of one of his holes and then sows them, one by one, into the ensuing holes, always in an anti-clockwise direction.

If the last seed falls into an occupied hole, the player takes up its contents and distributes these seeds in a new lap.

If the last seed is dropped into an empty hole of the player's own row, it captures the contents of the opposite enemy hole. After a capture, the seed is put into the next hole, where it can effect another capture or start a new lap.

The move ends either if the last seed is dropped into an empty hole of the opponent or if it falls into an empty hole of the player's own row, which is opposite to an empty enemy hole.

The game ends, when a player can no longer move. The remaining seeds are appropriated by his opponent.

The player who captured more seeds, wins the game.

The game is played in rounds. The holes, which the loser is unable to fill with fours at the beginning of the next round, are initially empty, but will be used again during gameplay. Any surplus is put back into the stores. A player who has been reduced to less than 16 seeds and therefore cannot fill four holes loses the match.


Pankhurst, R.
Gabata and Related Board Games of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. In: Ethiopia Observer 1971; 14 (3): 191.


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