| hus, ogoro, onjune, owela, |
otjitoto, wera, thuskae,
| Played in: |
|Captures are reintroduced|
|8-24 (or even more) holes per row|
The game of ||hūs (also called xoros, ogoro, onjune, owela, otjitoto, wera, thuskae, Lochspiel) is played by the Damara (Berg-Dama), Namaqua, Herero, Kanyama, Ndonga, Kwangari, Mbukushu and Hei||om in Namibia.
The || at the beginning of the name is a click consonant found almost exclusively in Khoisan languages (also in Xhosa), which is similar to the sound which is made to hurry a horse.
The game was first described by the Lutheran missionary Krönlein in 1855. The game plays an important role in the myth of the first man |Gurihoeseb. He won so many games that he eventually destroyed the paradisiac unity between nature and humanity. The game might also be associated with rain-making as it is said that the game was played with copper pearls and the thunder storm being ǂEixa|kha|nabiseb is mentioned in the same myth. Copper symbolizes lightning. It is even claimed that the name of the game is not derived from the Nama word meaning "hole", but from a today obsolete expression for "cloud".
The first ||hūs tournaments were organized in 2002 by the Pan African Centre of Namibia (PACON). The National Museum of Namibia, the former Landesmuseum, has a permanent ||hūs exhibition, where visitors can play against experienced players. A strong programme was developped by Victor Hamutenya and Michael Mikka, computer scientists at the University of Namibia in Windhoek.
The game of ||hūs is played by two people on a board consisting of four rows of 8-12 holes (||huti). If the game is played in teams, some authors report boards up to 24 holes per row or even longer. Each player (or team) controls the two rows on his (or their) side of the board.
At the beginning all the holes in the back row and those in the right half of the front row of each player contain two stones (gomate; literally: "cows"). The other holes are empty.
Players take turns to move.
On your turn you take all the stones from a hole belonging to your side of the board, which contains two or more seeds, and sow them anti-clockwise (ie, you put one on each of the following holes, without skipping one, all around your two rows).
If the last stone is dropped in an empty hole, the turn ends.
When the last stone falls into an occupied hole, its contents including the last stone sown are picked up and distributed in another lap.
- If, however, this occupied hole is in the inner row and the two opposite holes of the opponent are occupied, the stones of these two holes are captured (||am). The captured stones are then sown in a new lap starting in the hole following the one that effected the capture.
- If the inner hole of the opponent is occupied, but not the hole in his back row, only the contents of the inner hole are captured and sown. This is proven three times by an example game given by Wagner in 1917, despite a contrary claim made by P. Townshend.
When a player cannot move (ie, all his holes are empty or contain singletons), he has lost the game.
- Krönlein, J. G.
- (1985) Berichte der Rheinischen Missionsgesellschaft, Barmen: 281.
- Nujoma, S.
- (2002) Statement by His Excellency President Sam Nujoma on the occasion of the official inauguration of PACON House and the launch of the Owela Game [Web page] [1st July 2002].
- Russ, L.
- (2000) The Complete Mancala Games Book: How to Play the Worlds Oldest Board Games, New York: Marlowe & Company: 111-112.
- Schmidt, S.
- (1975) 'Einige Bemerkungen zum "Loch"-Spiel (Mankala) in Südwestafrika', in Journal - SWA Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft / Scientific Society (Windhoek, Namibia), 1974/75; 29: 67-77.
- Schultze, L.
- (1907) Aus Namaland und Kalahari: Bericht an die Kgl. Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin über einer Forschungsreise im westlichen und zentralen Afrika, ausgeführt in den Jahren 1903-1905 von Leonhard Schultze, Jena: G. Fischer: 313-315.
- Townshend, P.
- (1977) 'The SWA game of ||hūs (das Lochspiel) in the wider Context of African Mankala', in Journal - SWA Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft / Scientific Society (Windhoek, Namibia), 31: 85-98.
- Vedder, H. H.
- (1923) Die Bergdama, Hamburg: Friedrichsen; 1: 95-96.
- Viereck, A.
- (1955) 'Was sind das für Löcher im Boden?', in Allgemeine Zeitung (Windhoek, Namibia); 11. März 1955.
- Viereck, A.
- (1972) 'Was sind das für Löcher im Boden? (Nachdruck)', in Mitteilungen - SWA Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft / Scientific Society; 12 (10-11): 6-10.
- Wagner, P. A.
- (1917) 'A Contribution to Our Knowledge of the National Game of Skill in Africa', in Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa (Cape Town, South Africa); 6 (Part 1): 47-68 + Plate XIII XVII.