Oware Canada

Children enjoying a game of oware

What is Oware?

Oware belongs to the “pit and pebbles” classification of games. There are approximately 300 games in this class, with Ayo (Nigeria) and Oware (Ghana) being the most popular internationally. The Egyptian/Arab version called Mancala is also a well known version. There are versions of the games in all 54 African countries. The Philippines, Indonesia, India and Germany also have their own versions of the game.

Today the game is also played in the Eastern Caribbean under the name Ware or Warri. Some of the elders from Antigua have argued that the game may have migrated during the middle passage in the memories of the Africans. Oware continues to be an important part of African tradition on and off the continent and playing Oware keeps that tradition alive.

Oware is a game for two players
Two smart sisters playing oware

Ghana’s Oware is further divided into three versions of play, with “abapa” referred to as the “proper version” used in serious competition around the world.

James Masters, an expert on the game, traces its origin to Ancient Egypt and concludes that: “this may well be the oldest board game in the world”. He says that “stone boards have been found carved into roofs of temples in Memphis, Thebes and Luxor” and that the game was “played in Egypt before 1400 BC.”