Our Adinkra

West African Math Teaching Tool Oware or Mancala Board Game

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SKU: 368261
Nine adinkra symbols that convey West Africa's collective wisdom adorn the lid of this intriguing game of oware. It opens to reveal the playing field of twelve depressions. Oware is a game of skill and strategy designed for two players, challenging mental agility and alertness. The objective can be briefly described as 'counting and capturing beads' and there are no chance factors involved. A player's strategy entirely depends upon reasoning and counting abilities. Because of this, aware has been used successfully throughout Africa for teaching children basic numbers and arithmetic.

Oware is one of the oldest games in the world. The earliest records describing the game were found in Arab religious texts dating to the Middle Ages, suggesting the game originated in the Middle East and spread from there to Africa, then to Asia with Arab traders, and to the Caribbean around 1640 via the African slave trade. Other experts place its origins in Central Africa; the Masai people state that oware was invented by Sindillo, the son of the first man, Maitoumbe, and was originally called geshe.

In Arab countries, the most common name for this game is mancala, an Arabic word meaning 'to move.' In some West African countries the depressions in the board are referred to as warri or wwari, which means 'houses,' thus the name owari. In Nigeria it is known as adi, which is also the name of the seeds used to play it; and in South Africa it is called ohoro. With different and exotic names such as congklak, dakon, aggalacang, and nogarata, it has also been played in Asia long before the Portuguese rounded the southern tip of Africa.

Today, oware represents the diversity of Africa, as some version of it is played in nearly every country on the continent. Legend relates that Shyaam aMbul aNgoong, founder of the Kuba kingdom of Central Africa, taught the game to his people to encourage foresight and calculation.

The set includes 42 beads and a detailed playing manual.
  • Cedrillo wood, recycled plastic beads
  • 1.16 lbs
  • 2.4 inches H x 18.5 inches W x 3.5 inches D
  • Made in Ghana

Meet the Artist

Kofi Tall Agudoawu