Author: Civano Middle School

Writer: Mollie Monger

“I want that pile!” I said with conviction while playing Bao with my teacher. The one who taught me how to play months before. I learned how to play this game by watching my school teacher Marcus and my friend Annie play this game for thirty minutes, after their game and asking many questions I challenged Annie and beat her in three of exciting turns.


Bao is a very complex, fast thinking, exciting game. Some people believe to think it is just a more complicated version of Mancala. I somewhat agree, but Bao has more of a rhythm to it, as you move the pile of rocks across your side you drop the rock and then the other rocks react to the one dropped “Click, Clack… Click, Clack… Click…” last one dropped into an empty hole, the turn is over.

Once when I was playing the game, I thought of how smart the people who created this game are, as well as the everyone including the young children who play it in  Malawi almost everyday. I think that this game is super complex and difficult, but then again I remind myself that kids much younger than me are playing much better     than I do and much more fluent as well.

We play it on these nice wooden boards that Marcus brought to the school, and learned it in middle school from Marcus who lived in Malawi for awhile. The they make their own boards and play it in the dirt: digs all thirty two-holes into the ground, finds sixty-four rocks then plays with one another right after making the board.

I was losing, I had less than half the amount of rocks that he had. I wanted to beat Marcus at the game he taught me in the beginning. There was one pile that had maybe fifteen rocks on his side, and I had two rocks right across from his on my side. It was my turn, I thought for awhile, but was stuck. I told him “I want that pile!” I finally picked up a pile and my last one landed right in my pile with two and fifteen right across. I got it.. After that I felt, I the student became the master. After that turn I started to get more and more on my side, I emptied his front row. I just won, and beat my teacher.

Added by the website administrator:  Learn more about Bao – the Swahili word for “board game”