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The Ouril of Cape Verde

Ouril is an ancient mancala (board) game that still played regularly in Cabo Verde. I noticed that some men were playing this board game in front of the shops or on the beach. I was told that the game usually played by men, not women. I should take pictures of them but I always got unlucky with my camera gear. Every time I saw the Ouril players on the street, I had my camera inside of its underwater-casing – too much work to re-assemble for capturing the moments.

Luckily the souvenirs stalls in Sal Island, Cabo Verde, offered the Ouril board game set for tourists. The stall owner offered me of 1500 Escudos (15 Euro) for a wooden set and I was sure that I could have it for 10 Euro and even cheaper. Anyway, in the end I did not buy it but I was still allowed to take its images 🙂

About the board game itself, historically, it was brought to Cabo Verde by the slaves from West Africa during the Portuguese colonialism in early 15th century. It was inspired by Oware game that played by West Africans.

Cabo Verde

Cabo Verdians’ Ouril

The Ouril board game reminds me of Indonesian’s Congklak traditional game. I used to play the game when I was a kid, it was an interesting game that taught us basic mathematics. While Ouril board has six holes on each side, Indonesian’s congklak board’s side has seven or nine small holes on each side with one “mother” hole for each player. Regardless the number of holes and the game rules that varied locally, I noticed the principles of the game are similar: the seeds have to be deposited in each hole including the opponent’s and the player with the most seeds wins the game.



Have you seen or played a traditional board game that similar to Ouril, Oware or Congklak?

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