Mancala World

En Gehé

861pages on
this wiki

En Gehé → French.

En Gehé
Other Names: En Gesche,
First Description: Moritz
Merker, 1904
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Tanzania

En Gehé (plural: 'n gehén) is a mancala game, which is played by the Loitha and Kisonga Masai in northern Tanzania. The game of warriors, which is never played by woman, is usually played by teams of eight.

It is said that the game was invented by Sindillo, the son of the first man, Maitoumbe, when he was an old man. According to a legend, he also discovered honey which then became a food of the Masai. The first European to describe En Gehé was the German Moritz Merker of the Imperial Protection Troops (Kaiserliche Schutztruppe) of German East Africa in 1904. He is also regarded to be the first ethnologue of the Masai.


En Gehé is played on a board which consists of two rows of 40 - 50 holes each. The holes (sing.: en gurtóto; pl.: 'n gurtót) are dug into the ground. Each team controls one row (sing.: ol mátua; pl.: el mátuan).

At the beginning each hole contains four counters (sing.: os soid; pl.: es soido). The Masai take small pebbles or seeds of the ol gulangulu (Caesalpinia bonduc). Depending on the size of the board 320 - 400 counters are needed.


Initial Position (most challenging set-up)

On his turn a member of the team picks up the contents of a hole and distributes the stones (or seeds), one by one, in counterclockwise direction into the succeeding holes.

If the last stone falls into a non-empty hole, its contents are distributed in another lap.

The move ends when the last stone is dropped into an empty hole.

If the last stone is dropped into an empty hole of the team's own row, the contents of the opposite enemy hole are captured. If anything was captured, then the stone which caused the capture is also taken.

The game ends when one team can't move.

The stones which are still left on the board, are captured by the team which could move last.

The team who captured more stones wins the game.

If both teams captured the same number of stones, the game is a draw.


Bertaggia, A.
En gehé. In: Il Fogliaccio degli Astratti 2007; 46 (Decembre): 3.
Merker, M. 
Die Masai: Ethnographische Monographie eines ostafrikanischen Semitenvolkes. Dietrich Reimer (Ernst Vohlsen), Berlin (Germany) 1904, 36-37 & 272.
Murray, H. J. R. 
A History of Board-Games other than Chess. Oxford University Press, Oxford (UK) 1951, 199.
Townshend, P. 
Mankala in Eastern and Southern Africa. In: Azania: Journal of the British Institute in Eastern Africa 1979; 14: 109-138.


© Wikimanqala.
By: Ralf Gering.
Under the CC by-sa 2.5.

Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki