Mancala World
Other Names: Wari, Warri
First Description: Stewart
Culin, 1894
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Santa Lucia

Wa-wee is a mancala game played on St. Lucia in the Caribbean. The game is a variant of Oware.

A board collected by the Rev. F. Gardiner, jr., in the late 19th century is in the U.S. National Museum (USNM Cat. No. 151286).

He wrote in a letter to Dr. Brown Goode under date of May 2, 1895:

"The game of Wa-wee was bought in St. Lucia, but I found it in use also in Barbados and Martinique among the negroes. As far as I could ascertain, they supposed it very old - came from their fathers. I supposed it came from Africa; but no one seemed to know anything about it. It is a regular gambling game. (...) As near as I can remember, each of the small side holes has a given number of beans put in, each man taking one side and one large hole as a goal. The beans are taken up from one hole in the hand and dropped in a certain order in the other holes, going round the whole circle. If the last one drops in a hole which has a certain number of beans in it (I don't remember the, number), he picks that lot up and goes on. The object is to land the most beans of your own and taken from your adversary in the end holes."

According to travel guides, Wa-wee boards are still sold in local stores such as Noah's Arkade in Castries.


According to Herskovits the game has almost the same rules as Oware.

He reportet just one difference, a special "gambit", a move only allowed on the opening move:

  • At his first turn, a player may move all the contents of one of his holes into the next hole.

It interesting to note that Herskovits mentioned that a "Grand Slam" (a move that threatens to capture everything of the opponent's row) is permitted on St. Lucia, but captures nothing.


Culin, S. 
Mancala: The National Game of Africa. In: Report of the National Museum 1894, 597-611.
Herskovits, M. J. 
Wari in the New World. In: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 1932; 62: 23-37.


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