How to play Mancala

Mancala header

Mancala is a family of board games with over 800 known variants that is commonly played in  Africa and the Middle East. The word mancala derives from the Arabic word naqala (نقلة) meaning to move and rather confusingly is often used as an inclusive term for similar games with widely differing rules.

However, most forms of the game share the same general game play elements. Played by two players, the game is begun by distributing ‘pebbles’ (or sometimes called seeds) equally into the holes (or pits). The game is played by taking all the pebbles from one hole and ‘sowing’ them one by one in the following holes. The aim of the game is to finish the last pebble on a proscribed number depending on the variant being played. The aim of the game is to capture more pebbles than your opponent.


The equipment required is normally a simple board, typically 2×6 or 2×10 although there are many different versions which use a 4 hole deep board and playing pieces which can be stones, seeds, shells or any other small objects that can be moved easily during the game.

The game that we learnt is a Turkish form of the game that can be traced back to the 16th century. Points are won by finishing the last pebble on an even number or by finishing in an empty hole which entitles you to take the single piece as well as those in the hole opposite. In Turkey, there are many forms of the game such as Pıç in Erzurum, Altıev in Safranbolu and Meneli Taş in Ilgın, but we like our version best.

Mancala - Cribbage exchange

In the third video of our Cultural Relay Project, will Ania score a crushing victory or will Jon prevail against the odds? Find out by watching the video below …


How to play Mancala - Pinterest

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  • Great memories and great video. Hope you’re both safe and enjoying your journey. Take care yourselves

    • Thanks a lot, mate! Glad you liked it! As you can see we are a bit behind schedule with all the videos, but the cribbage one should be up soon. It’s just because travelling is much more interesting than editing videos and there is always something happening on the road ;) But we promise the next video will be live soon. Warm greeting from the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan! :)