Among all the traditional games indigenous to Nigeria the most popular one is a “sowing” game called Ayoayo by the Yoruba’s (Western Nigeria), Nchọ/Ókwè by the Igbo’s (Eastern Nigeia), ise by the Edo’s (South-south Nigeria). This game is played in a rectangular like box made of wood, clay, rock, and even some are caved on the ground. Although the standard traditional board is made of dried wood, and the droppings of the seed makes a rhythmic sound which makes this game more entertaining. It has 12 holes (i.e. 6 in a row and 2 in a column), 48 seeds with a pair of four in each row, also it is played by two players and a set of rules. It is popular belief that this game started in south-western part of Nigeria where it had a lot of significance such as fostering effective communication amongst people of the same peer group (played by people of the same age group only) which on the long run brings about community building. Also, the spiritual significance is that they believe it can be played to amuse the spirit of the dead. In addition, it is use as a means of relaxation after a day’s job is completed and it fosters a good relationship amongst people and with nature.
The rules of the game
- Each player has a row of six holes with four seeds in each holes, the first play starts by sowing his seed (in his row) in relay in a counterclockwise direction. The starting hole is skipped in each individual turn (i.e. no seed should be dropped their no matter the quantity available to be sown).
- If a player sow’s a seed in an empty hole in his opponent row, he/she his required to capture any seed in that hole.
- If any player can not move any seed, the game is over and his opponent captures the remaining seeds, and the winner is the person who has captured a bulk of the seeds in the course of the game.
- If any player is left with no seed on his role the, his opponent MUST (if possible) ensure that the seeds in his row circulates and get to his opponents row and this can be referred to as FEEDING the opponent.
- Capturing: This is the most important aspect of the game, a capture requires sowing 4 seeds at the end of a hole provided that it is in your own row, if it is in your opponents row he captures it. A player can only capture a pair of four seeds if the last seed of the player, completes the set of four seeds on the opponent’s row. Also, capturing includes the notion of capturing holes, and thus all seeds sown on a captured hole belong at the end of the game to the player who captured it.
Currently, this game has been modernized by Nigerian Software developer, so that it can be played on mobile devices and personal computers.