| Played in: |
|Captures are taken out|
|8 to 16 holes per row|
Moruba (also maruba) is a game played by the Pedi (obsolete: Bapedi) in the South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalunga in former Transvaal. Later, the game has been spread through migration to Gauteng and Western Cape. It is closely related to games described in Mozambique, e.g. tchouba and njombwa. The game was first researched in 1917 by the British ethnograph P. A. Wagner. It is traditionally played by men.
Starting in 2003, Moruba is promoted as an indigenous sport by the CSIR's National Product Development Centre and the South African Sports Commission (SASC). There were tournaments at the Indigenous Games Festival in Polokwane and the Indigenous Games Competition in Tzaneen. The game is also supported by the Mpumalanga Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture and the Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture of the Province Gauteng, because it forms an important expression of indigenous identity and, as it was said, of a "healthy life style". The best players, among them D. Shikwambam and Petrus Shibambu, are organized in the South African Wargamers Union (SAWU). Besides moruba, other games gain popularity, e. g. morabaraba, diketo, injuba, izingeda and ingcathu. This renaissance of African games is a response to Thabo Mbeki's call "to rediscover what was lost by indigenous people (of Africa through colonialism)". Mbeki is the president of "Boxing South Africa" and delivered the famous speech "I am an African" in the South African Parliament which promoted a return to African values.
Today the towns of Sasekani and Bolobedu are centers of the game. The newspaper Mopani News reports reguarly on Moruba competitions. The game which is already taught in the Bolobedu High School, will soon be introduced in all schools of Limpopo Province. Dickson Mpofu, the indigenous games co-ordinator in Mpumalanga, even wants to register Moruba with the Olympic committee.
The size of the game board depends on the number of players. Most common is a board which consists of four rows of eight holes (mekoti) each, but there are old photos which show boards which had up to 16 holes per row. The holes are dug into the earth. The counters are usually pebbles called mathlapa ("cattle").
Each player only uses his side of the board, which consists of two rows.
At his turn a player takes the contents of one of his holes, which must contain at least two stones, and distributes them, one by one, counterclockwise into consecutive holes on his own side.
If the last stone falls into a non-empty hole, its contents are distributed in another lap in the same direction.
The move ends when the last stone is dropped into an empty hole.
If the last stone is put into an empty hole of the inner row and the opposite hole of the opponent contains stones, these enemy stones are "killed" (tlaba). Additionally, the stones of the outer hole directly behind it are "captured" (tlola) and the contents of any other enemy hole. The killed or captured stones of the opponent are removed from the board.
When a player has only singletons, he is permitted to move them, but only in empty holes.
The player who has still stones at the end of the game is declared the winner, while the other player who has no stones left, has lost. Draws are not possible.
- Santos Silva, E. R.
- (1995) Jogos de Quadrícula do Tipo Mancala com especial Incidência nos Practicados em Angola, Lisboa: Instituto de Investigação Cientifíca Tropical.
- Wagner, P. A.
- (1917) 'A Contribution to our Knowledge of the National Game of Skill of Africa', in Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa; 6 (1): 47-68.
- Historical picture of the anthropologists Eileen and Jack Krige (1936-38), South African Museum, Cape Town.