Africans have a special affinity for board games. In most African households I have been in, there is at least one,
and perhaps the oldest one – Mancala, also known as oware, ayo, omweso, enkeshui, bao, or aweet throughout the continent.
Everyone knows about Mancala. It is also one of oldest games in the world, dating back thousands of years. It is alleged to have been discovered over 5,000 years ago in ancient Sumeria (modern day Iraq) but clear evidence shows it was played 3,600 years ago in ancient Sudan (on the upper Nile River).
It was also played in Egypt before 1400 BCE, where there were holes in the ground of Egyptian temples at Tebas, Karnak, and Luxor, before moving to other parts of Africa and other parts of the world.
Today, there are more than 200 versions of Mancala, with versions online and in online stores to easily purchase one’s own.
But in addition to Mancala, there are many others African board games that can quickly gain prominence and add excitement to any retreat or gathering.