Oware Therapeutic Cultural Game
A therapeutic tool to build self esteem
Excellent as a non-verbal means of expression
Used alongside art materials to confront painful and unhappy feelings
which are difficult to put into words.
HISTORY OF OWARE
Oware is a game of great antiquity. There is evidence that it was invented by the Sumerians of ancient Africa several thousand years ago as a system of record keeping, having debit and credit entries. One side indicated money and goods received, and the other recorded sales or payments.
Stone carvings of the game board surviving from ancient Egypt have been discovered in the roofing slabs of Kurma Temple at Thebes, in the summit of the great pylon at the entrance of the temple of Karnak, and at Lukor temple. Rock cut boards or great antiquity has been found in Zimbabwe. In Ghana, carvings were found in the temple of Tarkora in Tanobuase in the Techniman district.
Oware is probably the most therapeutic arithmetical game with a mass following anywhere in the world. In its simplest form it can be played purely as a game of chance. In its complex form it is played rather as a game of strategy.
ORIGIN OF THE NAME OF THE GAME
Tradition has it that long ago a game of Oware between a man and a woman lasted so long, they decided to get married in order that they might be together for as long as they wished, to have time to finish the game and many more thereafter. This incident is said to have given the game its Akan name of ‘Oware’, which means ‘he marries’.
A Ghanaian National Game
Oware is reputed to be the oldest game on earth. It is at least 15,000 years old and can be traced back to the Sumerians of ancient Africa. It is one of the oldest sedentary games of Ghana. It is also played in other parts of Africa, but the name varies from country to country. Oware is not confined to Africa but is played in many other countries such as India, Sudan, Angola, and Timbuktu to name a few.
Oware was originally devised as an accounting system and helps in the development of numeric skills.
The game board is simply or intricately carved from wood and seeds, pebbles, marbles or ivory balls used as game pieces. Children often scoop holes in the ground and play the game with a variety of seeds or pebbles. The shape of the board in general use in Ghana is like that of the Ashanti stool. Holes are carved out big enough for a normal hand in fist position to fit into them.
The game calls for a great deal of concentration, the ability to calculate quickly, and varying levels of skill, depending on the version of the game being played.
Oware is becoming increasingly popular in many schools due to its emphasis on mental arithmetic. Belleville School in Battersea was the 1999 National Oware champions. Such was their landslide victory that the Oware National School's Cup was renamed the Belleville Oware Cup. Many Oware associations are springing up around the country.
USING OWARE IN SCHOOL
Oware is a very versatile game which can be used with pupils of all abilities, from severe special needs pupils to the able and gifted. It has been used successfully in referral units with pupils having severe behavioral issues. Oware is ideal for golden time reward and to fill in those periods of time when the teacher is occupied with other students. The game adds a cultural flavour to open day events, international evenings, school fetes, math evenings, wet playtimes, etc, and is also useful for fundraising events.
Oware Math Day
An Oware math day runs between 9.00am and 3.00pm and costs £50 per hour. Up to thirty children can be taught at a time. Each session lasts for one Hour so five or six classes plus a lunchtime club can be taught in a day.
Sessions include an interactive introduction to Oware; the origin of the game, its history, cultural significance and benefits. This is followed by a demonstration on how to play the game, ending with a mini tournament to find the class champion.
DIFFERENT COUNTRIES – DIFFERENT NAMES
Oware is not confined to the continent of Africa. It is also found in the following countries under the following names:
Angola - Mbau Benin – Madji
Ceylon – Naranj Congo – Mongola
India – Pandi Philippines – Dakon
Jahore – Chongkak Kenya – Guithi
Liberia – Poo, Kpo, Kboo Sudan – Choro
Syria – Mankela Timbuktu – Wari
Upper Volta – Ware Zimbabwe – Tsoro
Upper region of Ghana – Aditoe Cameroun – Kale
Ivory Coast – Aware, Awele Gambia – Wari, Woro
Ghana (Ashanti) – Wari Guinea Conakry – Awele, Wari
Nigeria – Ayo, Ayoayo Senegal – Wari, Woro
Surinam - Aghi
The game board is simply or intricately carved from wood or stone and seeds, pebbles, marbles or ivory balls used as game pieces. Children often scoop holes in the ground and play the game with a variety of seeds or pebbles. The shape of the board in general use in Ghana is like that of the Ashanti stool. Holes are carved out big enough for a normal hand in fist position to fit into them.
The Ghanaian game of Oware is played by two people in opposition. The players sit one each side of the board, each player facing his set of six holes. Into each of the holes are placed four game pieces, which are usually the seeds of the Caesalpinia Crista (Caesalpinia Bonduc) commonly known as Mulucca Bean or Nicker Nut, or Oware Aba by the Akan peoples of Ghana.