Omweso: A Ugandan board game

Omweso board game

The Omweso board is usually carved out of wood; according to Mukwaya, the preferred hard woods came from the Omukebu (Cordial Africana) and Omugavu (Albizia Coriaria) for durability.

“The board game is probably one of the oldest in Uganda. Many ethnic groups appear to have played it for centuries, yet its origin is still obscure, although some people have suggested theories which have not yet been satisfactorily substantiated…,” says Michael B. Nsimbi in his book, Omweso, A Game People Play in Uganda.

However, the scarcity of these trees has forced the carvers to use whatever is available.

One square or hole of Omweso is called essa (plural amasa).Brown seeds called empiki from the Omuyiki tree (Mesoneurum welwitschianum) are used as pellets (counters or men).

Omweso board game

The Omuyiki tree takes 20-40 years to mature and its fruits are used to make a foamy concoction used as soap.

Each player in a game has 32 pellets. At the start of a game each player distributes his empiki four to a square in his first row.

The center horizontal line of the board divides it so that each player has two rows each of eight squares.

The object of the game is to capture all the opponent’s pellets or so to reduce them so that he cannot make a move.

The players sit or squat facing each other with the board in the middle on the ground or a stand.

One of the board game players from the audience focused on making the next move

All the 64 pellets remain in play until one player wins. This is not a team game and a player upsetting the board automatically loses the game.

Modifications to the traditional rules of the game have helped in cutting short the duration of a game.

Whereas one game used to last between 10 and 20 minutes, today, it lasts between three and even minutes. |

PS: Find the full original article here The East African.

Originally written by; Bamuturaki Musinguzi for The East African

256faces: Arinaitwe Andrew

We met Arinaitwe Andrew on our way to Ntinda through the Kyambogo University short cut. He vends fruit on a one wheeled cart which he has to push around door to door to meet old and potential clients.We were hungry so we stopped him and bought some fruit. He’s been doing it for over five years since he entered the city. He sells mostly pineapples, mangoes, water melons. This time he only had delicious yellow mangoes on his cart.


While at work he hides his dreaded hair under a hair sock. He was losing potential clients who were willing to support him but were uncomfortable with the dreads most being under the assumption that he would spend what they give him on his hair instead of doing something more productive. So he usually lets them out only at night.

256faces: Afrie

It was the first time I heard her voice. It was powerful. It was soft. It was deep. It was a lot of things. It was clear this wasn’t her first gig. She looked comfortable and chill despite the blazing heat which was scorching most of us, the sweaty ones especially . She looked like she knew what she was doing and when she started, Mehn! It was incredible how beautiful and crystal clear her voice was in a live performance. Everyone, meet Afrie.