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Traditional Bao Game

“Bao” is a Kiswahili word to mean wood. Therefore the Bao traditional game is also known as the board game by the locals. The Bao board game is part of the Macala game family. The Mancala games are many games with a lot of similarities but minimal differences. The Bao game is a very popular game in the people of Tanzania. The Zanzibar area is more addicted to this game.

In the Zanzibar area of Tanzania, they hold tournaments for the Bao game. Thousands of people turn up to take part and also witness the crowning of the Bao Master.

There has been generally sketchy information about the origin of this game. But when you consider the importance of the game and the connection with the people of Zanzibar and Tanzania, it’s okay to assume that the game has some Swahili roots from the coastal areas. The game has two version played here.

You will need a Mancala board and the counters to play this game. Every player has half of the board of two rows each. This particular pit is square and is called Nyumba to mean House.

The counters are usually seeds in the Mancala game and each of the players will have about 32 counters that are similar.

Children from a young age watch the adults play this game as they learnt the rules and techniques. The kids will then try out to play on their own.thy will not begin by playing on the real board games but will dig pits on the ground. They will use small stones as counters. Sometimes they use shells.

Each player will make moves with seeds he picks and sows thin the pits on the board. Where the seeds on is sowing stop, the player will pick up more seeds in that pit and continue sowing. This will mean he can continue and take even his opponents seeds as well in the rows next to him if available. The game will go on like this until the opponent has no more seeds to sow.


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