10 - DINKA (SUDAN), AWEET This game is the same as the coro of the Lango except that it is played on a four-by-ten board.

    

Photos 9 and 10 - A four-by eleven (?) and a two-by-twelve board from northern Kenya.

    

Photos 11 and 12 - Playing on a four-by-thirteen ‘board’ in northern Kenya.

11 - POKOME, MBOTHE.  The Pokomo tribe, along the Tana river, play mbothe. Although the name is similar to the kiothi of the Meru and the giuthi of the Kikuyu, there is no similarity in the rules. It is played by both sexes and all ages. The Pokomo consider it to be nothing more than an entertainment, unlike the Baganda who take omweso very seriously.

The usual form of the board is simply a number of shallow pits dug in the ground. There are two rows of ten pits on each side. Each pit contains two counters, usually stones.

The rules are quite simple: One picks up the contents of any pit on one’s own side and sows them, one in each pit, counter clockwise around the board. When a handful ends, that stone and the entire contents of that pit are sown further. If a handful ends in an empty pit, unless there is a capture, the player sleeps. This type of move progression is identical with mweso and enkeshui. It is the most common in East Africa. Other regions have other ways of chaining moves, or none at all.

Except during the first move, all pits on the opponent’s side containing two stones are omitted from the sowing. Also a move may nor originate from a pit containing two stones. If no other pit exists from which to make a move, the one farthest right must be played. The opening move must, therefore, be from the right hand end.

To capture, the handful must end in an empty pit on one’s own side opposite a pit containing two stones. These two are then captured and are kept off the board. A player gets a free move after every capture. In this way it is possible to build up chains of moves.

When an opponent has no stones left, his opponent is required, if possible, to make a move crossing the board thus giving him more.

The captured stones plus those remaining on one’s own side, if any, are then counted and the player with the most is the winner.

12 - KIKUYU, GIUTHI.  Among the Kikuyu giuthi is played primarily by young boys when they are herding cattle of goats. Since the game is played on a very casual basis, holes dug in the ground are the most common form of board. Wooden boards are practically nonexistent. Small stones are used as counters, or sometimes the seeds of the mubuthi tree. The board consists of two rows with anywhere from five to ten pits in each. Two-by-eight is preferred. The number of stones in each pit varies from four to nine; six is preferred. At present, knowledge of the game is being lost among the Kikuyu. Even those who can play it, often make mistakes in the rules and have to reminded by a bystander who happens to remember. One of them said, "If you haven’t been herding you don’t know the game." And many of the boys today have not been herding. There were special names for various pits and for certain moves, but no one seems to know them now. Diagram l shows a typical starting arrangement:

Diagram l - A typical Kikuyu starting arrangement.
 
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6

The player to start the game is decided as follows: One player takes a stone or seed and hides it in one of his hands behind his back so that his opponent does not know which hand the stone is in. He may place a small wad of mud in the other hand. The two hands are then brought forward and the opponent must guess which hand holds the stone. If he guesses correctly, he begins the game. (I wonder if this practice was introduced by Europeans as it appears to be unique.)

To make a move, a player picks up the entire contents of any one pit on his own side and sows the stones, one in each succeeding pit, in either direction. When a handful ends, he picks up the entire contents of that pit and sows them in the opposite direction. Each time he picks up a new handful, he changes direction. This complete lack of a mandatory direction is unique to giuthi. One is not permitted to start with a single stone.

A move is not considered valid until the player has crossed the border over into the other side of the board. If he lands in an empty pit before this he gets another turn. If, after having crossed the border, he ends in an empty pit on his own side, and the pit opposite contains one or more stones, these stones are captured. The stone making the capture is also taken off. Captured stones are put in some safe place off the board. If the pit making the capture is followed by a string of one or more empty pits each of which has at lest one stone in its opposing pit, these are also captured. The move is over after all captures are completed and it is the opponent’s turn. In any case, the move is over once a player has landed in an empty pit on either side after having crossed the border at least once.

If a player cannot make a move because he has only single stones in any of his pits, he loses his turn until such time as he has more. If, at any time, he has none, that game is over. The stones left on the opponent’s side belong to the opponent. The winner is the one with the most stones.

As with the Maasai, it is common practice to continue the game into a second phase. One proceeds like this: The person with the less beads replaces them on the board in any arrangement he chooses. Much experience is required to take maximum advantage of this opportunity. Some versions of the game do not require one to replace all the seeds that one has on the board. In addition, if the loser of the first game has less than half of his original number of seeds, he may ask that the board be shortened by two pits in each row, to a minimum of three. His opponent, the one with the most seeds, places an equal number of seeds in each pit on his side opposite to the ones placed by the loser. Some versions require that the winner place double the number in each of his pits, if the loser has less than half. The game then continues as before until one player cannot continue. The second game is begun by the loser; after that the two take turns.

13 - KILINJE, NDOTO.  Ndoto is played by the Kilinje. The game as recorded below is extremely simple. It may be that some of the more sophisticated minor rules are missing as what I have recorded here seems to be a stripped down version of some other game. There is, for example, only one mode of capture while most games specify two. (E.g., forward and reverse capture in mweso; simple capture and making bulls in enkeshui.)

Ndoto is played on a two-by-eight with two seeds in each pit as shown below:

Diagram m - The standard ndoto starting arrangement.
 
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2

It is common to decide the beginner of a game by way of a racing start as in enkeshui:

A move is made, as is usual in East Africa, by picking up the entire contents of any one pit one the player’s own side and sowing them in the counter clockwise direction. When a handful ends, that seed and the entire contents of the pit are picked up to continue sowing. If a handful ends in any empty pit, the player sleeps. Then it is the opponent’s turn.

If handful ends in an empty pit on one’s own side, and the pit opposite contains one or more seeds, these seeds are captured. A player sleeps after a capture.

It is not permitted to move a pit containing only one seed that is not followed by an empty pit. In other words, a single seed cannot be used to begin a chained move. It can, however, be used to make a capture.

The game is over when one side has no seeds left with which to continue play. Each player then keeps the seeds left on his side. The winner is the one with the most.