“Ntchuva” Traditional Game in Mozambique (aka “Warri”/”Mancala”)

“Ntchuva” is a game for male adults. Two teams are formed with one or more players. The game can be carried out on the floor, digging up four rows of small pits. Each queue can have 4, 8, 16 or 32 pits. You can also play in a board made of wood or cement.

The teams squat down, facing each other. At each pit are placed two stones and each team match two rows of pits. The goal is to eliminate the opponent’s stones.

Ntchuva game in Mozambique, Africa
Local man teaching me how to play Ntchuva in Mozambique, Africa

How To Play Ntchuva

To make a move, the player chooses a pit of departure. Grab these pit stones and place them one by one following the pits counterclockwise. When the last stone is dropped into a pit that still has stones, the player restarts the process, i.e., remove the stones of the pit and place them one by one following the pits until the last stone is dropped in an empty grave. If this grave is located on the 1st row (which is closer to the player) the play ends and the turn passes to the opponent. If the pit in question is located on the second row (closer to the opponent) the player checks if the next pit (corresponding to the second row of the adversary) has stones, which gives you the right to remove the stones of that pit as well from the pit immediately behind and a third pit (chosen by the player, according to a criterion of game strategy, or will seek to reduce the chances of the opponent, a next move, you also remove stones).


Next is the turn of the adversary, who will play in the manner already described, continuing the game with players alternating between the two teams. Players are required (as long as possible) to start the game by more than a pit with a stone, always ending when they leave one stone on a grave. Only when they leave there graves over a stone, the player can start the game from a pit with one stone, walking in this case only one pit, unless you just have to follow a stone so he can continue.

Ntchuva game in Mozambique, Africa
Ntchuva game in Mozambique

The game ends when one team eliminating the opponent’s stones.

Ntchuva may be known as “Warri” in many other countries in Africa. And the rules may differ from place to place, but the strategy is always similar.

  According to “Moçambicanismos,” from Lopes, Sitoe and Nhamuende, the term “Nchuva/Nxuva” comes from the Swazi term “intjuba.” Ntchuva can be compared to the type of board games called “Mancala” (wiki).

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3 thoughts on ““Ntchuva” Traditional Game in Mozambique (aka “Warri”/”Mancala”)”

    • Well, unofficially, I think it’s due to social habits, every culture has it’s own habits around Mancala games, some countries (such Syria and Egypt) they are played by everybody but “man vs man”, “woman vs woman” and “children vs children”, in Mozambique I believe it’s bound to culture/social habits as women tend to gather around water wells where they are “away” from their micro-society and their men, so they can talk about subjects they couldn’t or shouldn’t else where, as well men play the game with other men so they can talk about their own subjects as well. But again, that’s not official. 🙂

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