“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 term “Nchuva/Nxuva” comes from the Swazi word intjuba. Ntchuva can also be compared to the type of board games called “Mancala” (see Wikipedia for more).

How To Play Ntchuva

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

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. This 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).

Ntchuva game in Mozambique, Africa
Playing Ntchuva game in Mozambique

Next is the turn of the adversary, who will play in the manner already described. The game continues 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.

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

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

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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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