Mancala Games in the Netherlands

The ancient history of Mancala games
The ancient mancala games have been fun and engaging throughout the ages. Although they are mostly played in Africa and parts of Asia, some variations of Mancala games have found their way to Europe. The Netherlands has always been known for its tolerance and strong position as a trading country. That is why many foreign games, such as the Mancala games, have particularly found their way into this small but wealthy country. Want to learn more about the history of Mancala games in the Netherlands and how these games are played their in today’s day and age? Read on. 
Mancala games are amongst the oldest games in the entire history of the world. There are some sources that even claim that the history of the game dates back to 1500 B.C. The oldest variation of Mancala probably originated in ancient Egypt, from which it spread throughout the rest of Africa. When Islamic culture spread in the first centuries after Christ, so did the game of Mancala spread to parts of Asia. During the slave trade, the game was brought into the Caribbean area from Africa. It wasn’t until the second half of the twentieth century that Mancala was also becoming well known in the United States and Europe. 

The different kinds of Mancala games
As with many things that are centuries old, many different versions exist of the Mancala game. Some sources even claim that there are as many as two hundred different names for all the different varieties of Mancala. Most of these names refer in a local language to an element or part of the game, such as “sowing”, “conquering”, “pit” or “house”. These different versions do share a number of commonalities, though. Mancala games are referred to as ‘count and capture’ games. This means that the aim of the game is to, you guessed it, count and conquer. Mancala games are played on a board with holes in it in which chips can be placed. When there’s no access to a ‘real’ board and chips, holes were made in the ground and little rocks, seeds or shells were used as chips. Some people still play the game this old-school way. 

How Mancala is played in the Netherlands
As in many European countries, the mancala games are not particularly well known in the Netherlands. It’s not as popular as other Dutch favorites such as Monopoly or the famous board game “Mens-erger-je-niet” which roughly translates to “Dude-don’t-get-upset”. There are some enthusiastic Mancala fans in the Netherlands, however, that love to play this ancient game that is both simple yet engaging. In the Netherlands, the Mancala game is often referred to as “Kalaha” or with the traditional term “Mancala”. Most often, people in the Netherlands play this game on a wooden board with wooden chips. There are even special travel editions of the game available in the Netherlands, so kids can play it in the back of the car or easily take it with them while on vacation. 

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