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n. 1 (context games board games English) A generic name applied to various board games in which a move consists of emptying a pit and then its contents are sown one by one into ensuing pits 2 (context games English) A synonym for Kalah, a mancala game invented in the USA in 1940


Mancala is a family of board games played around the world, sometimes called " sowing" games, or "count-and-capture" games, which describes the gameplay.

The name is a classification or type of game, rather than any specific game. Some of the most popular mancala games (with regard to distribution area, the numbers of players and tournaments, and publications) are:

  • Bao la Kiswahili – played in most of East Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Comoros, Malawi, as well as some areas of DR Congo and Burundi.
  • Congkak – South Asia from the Maldives to the Philippines, also known as Dakon, Ohvalhu, Sungka etc.
  • Kalah – the most popular variant in the Western world.
  • Oware (awalé, awélé) – Ashanti, but played world-wide with close variants played throughout western Africa and in the Caribbean.
  • Toguz korgool or Toguz kumalak – played in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Although more than 800 names of traditional mancala games are known, some names denote the same game, while some names are used for more than one game. Almost 200 modern invented versions have also been described.

Playing equipment ranges from simple found stones or seeds with holes dug in the earth to elaborate and expensive boards and playing pieces.