The origins of the
African board game of Morabaraba or Umlabalaba are uncertain. Some claim its
a traditional African game thousands of years old whilst others suggest
it's a variant of Nine Men's Morris and was imported to South
Africa by British settlers. Others claim its origins date back
to Roman times. Whatever the truth of the matter, its an
extremely popular game, particularly in South Africa where its
played by millions and is used to teach herd boys an
appreciation for tactical thinking.
The playing pieces are called "cows" and are placed at the
intersections of the lines on the board. The aim of Morabaraba
is to capture ten of your opponent's cows or block his/her
cows so they cannot move.
If a player is down to two cows or cannot move then the game
ends. A draw can be reached if each player is down to three
cows and after ten moves neither has captured the other's cow. To
start playing Morabaraba each player takes turns to place one
of his or her twelve cows on the board. Once all have been placed and the game
started, cows can only be moved to an empty adjacent slot
unless the player has just three cows left when they can then
move to any free place. This is called 'flying'.
If a player gets three cows in a row
its called a "mill" and an opponent's cow can then be removed
from the board. The strategy kicks in when trying to build
mills or block your opponent from doing so. When creating a
mill and capturing an opponent's cow, that captured cow can't
be in a mill itself unless all of your opponent's cows are
part of a mill.
play this online version of Morabaraba click on an empty
intersection to place a piece and to then move it, click on it
and then again on the location where you want to move it to.
When removing a captured piece just click on it. After
you've played Morabaraba why not check out our other African
games? We've online versions of the ancient Egyptian game of
Senet as well as Oware and Mancala.