Mancala games play an important role in culture. They are mentioned in literature and shown in many films. Their social function is often to create and maintain the identity of groups. They can mark ethnic boundaries or can be gender-specific. As a sport they distinguish those of knowledge ("masters") from ordinary players. Some games are associated with social pride, while others are considered as children's games. Another aspect is the material culture of mancala games. A precious board can elevate its owner and often mirrors his social status.

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