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two hands and some string stretched between them

Playing cats-cradle: play African games

What materials do I need?

Many of these African games require no equipment at all to play, just some dirt and stones. Go someplace where there is dirt and stones (this may be the hard part if you live in the city, so consider going to the beach or to a campground). African games you can play in the dirt include marbles, jacks, and mancala.

Early African games
Games in ancient Egypt
Medieval Islamic games
All our Africa articles

brown-skinned boys and girls play hopscotch on a board scratched into bare dirt

Kids play hopscotch in East Timor (not Africa) (thanks to Games People Play)

African games on the playground

If you can’t find anywhere that has dirt and stones, you can still play many of the games – running races, tag (if they let you at your school), jumprope, hacky-sack, and hopscotch are all great games for any playground.

And inside the classroom

Rows of holes carved into a gray stone slab

Earliest known mancala board – Axum, ca. 600 AD

If you are stuck inside, or have trouble walking and jumping, you can still play African clapping games and learn to do cat’s-cradle figures, and use a board to play mancala.

Did this article about how to play African games help you out? Let us know in the comments!

African games

Click on these books to buy them, or buy your own Mancala game:

Egyptian Games
Islamic Games
Ancient Greek Games
Indian Games
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