Omweso: A Ugandan board game

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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).

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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.

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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