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Bao dictionary

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The following is a collection of Bao-related terms and expressions mostly recorded on Zanzibar (Tanzania), but including a few words from Lamu (Kenya) and other places as well.

Swahili - EnglishEdit

akheri
(lit. "border", "limit") see hatima
amua bilisi
to try one's luck
bana bao
(lit. "to squeeze bao") to prevent that the opponent enters his back row
bao (pl. mabao (also mibao))
(lit. "board" and also "goal" in soccer) 1. the game of Bao; 2. a Bao board
bao hamna
see hamna
bao kiswahili (or bao la kiswahili)
occasionally used to distinguish Bao from other mancala games (first by de Z. Hall 1953)
bawo
(a Swahili borrowing used in Yao, Malawi, for: bao (1)
bingwa
(lit. "expert", "specialist") 1. (grand)master; 2. expert; 3. champion
Chama cha Bao
(lit. "Bao Society") an umbrella organization of Bao clubs in Tanzania (founded in 1966)
cheza kamari
to play for money, gamble
chumba
(lit. "room") synonymous to shimo
duru
(lit. "turn", "rotation") round(s)
enda mrima kusini
("going to the southern coast") playing without knowing where the move ends
endelea
(lit. "to keep on") continuing the move in another lap
fani
skill (de Voogt 1995)
fundi
(lit. "expert", "someone skillful") master
ghala
(lit. "store") large hole to store the seeds used in the namu stage
gosa
to end one captured seed in an endhole
hamna (or bao hamna)
(lit. "there is nothing inside") winning by capturing all opponent's kete in his front row
hatima (also misspelled as khatima)
(lit. "end", "conclusion") foresight
hizi zetu
(lit. "those our") reserving threatened kete of the opponent in the mtaji stage, so that they may not lifted (a pecularity at the Kenya coast (Townshend 1982)
hodari
(lit. "capable", "clever", "strong") skilled (used to describe excellent play)
kete
(lit. "cowrie") counters (originally only used for cowrie shells; see also komwe and solo)
khatima
see hatima (de Voogt 1995)
kichwa (pl. vichwa)
(lit. "head") first or ultimate hole in the front row
kikao
(lit. "residence") meeting place of bao clubs
kimbi
(perhaps related to kimbia or mbio meaning respectively "run away" and "very fast" (Townshend 1982)) ultimate and penultimate holes on either end of the front row (the ultimate holes are also known as vichwa); note that according to de Voogt only the penultimate holes are called kimbi
kinamuzi
seed that plays namua
kitakimbi
to attack a kimbi
kitakomwe
1. special trap (not specified; de Voogt 1995); 2. play of seeds with one seed hidden in the palm; 3. incorrect term for toboa
komwe
seeds of the mkomwe (Caesalpinia bonduc) used as counters in Lamu (see also kete)
kubwa ya mpango
(lit. "big one of the plan") see nyumba
kula
(lit. "eat") to capture seeds
kupanda (also kupanga)
(from panda, "to arrange") initial position
kuu
(lit. "eminent", "bigger") synonymous to nyumba (used on Lamu)
lala
(lit. "to sleep") stopping a move
lengo
goal
ligi
league
mali yetu
(lit. "our wealth" (Townshend 1982)) safe seeds in the outer row
mantiki
(lit. "logic") Bao talent (gift of understanding Bao)
mashindano ya Bao
Bao tournament
mbele
(lit. "in front") front row
mchezaji
player
mchezo
game
mji
(lit. "city") synonymous to nyumba
mkononi
(lit. "in the hand") a victory in the namua stage
mtoano
knockout system in tournaments
mshindaji
1. winner; 2. champion
mtaji (pl. mitaji)
(probably from tajiri: "getting rich") 1. second stage of the game; 2. hole with enough kete to capture (in the mtaji stage); 3. a capturing move
mtego
(lit. "mine", "trap") 1. combination; 2. trap
mwalimu
(Bao) teacher; honorable title for strong players and also for honorable people, as Julius Nyere, the first president of Tanzania (and Bao sponsor, although the mwalimu title is not related to this fact)
mwamuzi
referee
namu
1. first stage of the game; 2. store (only some boards, de. Z. Hall 1953); 3. seeds played in the namu stage (Ingrams 1921)
namua (also nemo, namu, ng'amua or kunamua)
(from namua, "to get out of a trap" (Townshend 1982)) to play the namu stage
nemo
see namu (on Lamu; Boyd 1977, Townshend 1982)
ng'amua
see namua (de Voogt 1995)
nyuma
(lit. "rear", "behind") back row
nyumba
(lit. "house") square hole
piga tanji
to attack several houses at the same time
piganisha nyumba
to have both houses under attack
profesa
(lit. "professor") (grand)master
rejesha bao (also rudisha bao)
to undo moves in Bao
rusha kete
to throw kete
safari
(lit. "to travel") destroying the nyumba by continuing a mtaji sowing from it
sanaa
(lit. "artwork") skillful play
shimo (also kishimo; pl. vishimo)
(lit. "hole", kishimo "little hole") pit
shindano (often used in plural, mashindano)
competition, tournament
solo (also spelled soo by Ingrams and de Voogt)
seeds of the msolo (Caesalpinia cristata) employed as counters (term still used on Pemba; see also kete)
sukuma wakati
casual play (Townshend 1982)
takasa (also kutakasa)
see takata
takasia (also kutakasia)
to play without capturing and forcing the opponent to play without capturing, after which it is possible to capture (see also takata)
takata (also kutakata)
(lit. "to purify", "to clean") a move without capture
takatia (also kutakasia)
see takasia
tanga mtini
(lit. "to climb a tree") not knowing where one's move is going to end (see also enda mrima kusini)
tapisha bao
(lit. "to vomit bao) to play an elaborate gambit
tega
to trap
tegua
1. to neutralize traps; 2. to play a counter-trap
toboa
a special opening move (now obsolete in Zanzibar)
tobwe
1. novice; 2. fool
utitiri
(lit. "chicken lice") a particular combination involving the play of singletons in the front row
vunja lengo
(lit. "to break the goal") to obstruct the opponent's strategic goals
weka
to be in control of the opponent's game
ya huko Africa
typically African (a characteristic attributed to Dao in Kenya in contrast to dama ("Draughts") which is viewed as of Islamic Arab origin (Townshend 1982)
zamu
turn (in a game)

Bao SayingsEdit

"Bao linakawilia."
"Bao doesn't end quickly." (de Voogt 1995)
"Bao mguu wa shetani."
"Bao is a leg of the devil". - Meaning: Bao is tricky! (de Voogt 1995)
"Mtaji mmoja."
"One mtaji." - Said to a player who is hesitating, although there is just one move he can do. A similar, but more colorful expression exists in Omweso: "Nkuyege zigulya!" - "Hurry up or the white ants will eat the board!")
"Nimeshakumiliki."
"I have (already) ruled you." - see weka. (de Voogt 1995)
"Haya cheza."
"Ok, play!" - when a player signals that a very long move has now ended. - (Townshend 1982)

ReferencesEdit

Bautista i Roca, V. 
Personal Experiences on Zanzibar. Tanzania (short periods in 1997, 1998 and 1999).
Boyd, A. W. 
The Game of Bao - Lamu Style. In: MILA 1977 (1979); 6 (1): 81-89.
Ingrams, W. H. 
Zanzibar: Its History and People. Frank Cass & Co., London (England) 1921, 257-259.
Townshend, P. 
Bao (Mankala): The Swahili Ethic in African Idiom. In: Paideuma 1982; 28: 175-191.
Voogt, A. J. de. 
Limits of the Mind: Towards a Characterisation of Bao Mastership. CNWS Publications: Leiden (Netherlands) 1995.
Yale Program in African Languages
The Kamusi Project. Internet Living Swahili Dictionary. Yale (USA) 1995-2005.

CopyrightEdit

© Wikimanqala.
By: Ralf Gering & Víktor Bautista i Roca.
Under the CC by-sa 2.5.

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