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In the various countries of west Africa where I have traveled, I have encountered a variety of games played with beads or seeds and a wooden board with any number of different cavities or “houses.” The name and rules vary depending on the culture-among the Mende of Sierra Leone I recall different rules for a men’s or a women’s game.
Here amoung the Fang of Gabon it is called Songo and as the picture shows there are 7 “houses” per side and each player starts with 35 seeds from a local tree and the object is to capture more seeds than your opponent. It is deceptively simple which leads to very complex strategy. This particular game is located on the veranda of our host and I received excellent instructions, “Play Andre (as I am known here) and see what happens.” I am pretty good at counting, so I thought I had a chance. NOT. I got whipped. But I could for sure have another games as we had seen a similar set in the “corps de garde” (a village meeting house) in Belleville where we walked two weeks ago.

We are in the final push to get the school finished for the inauguration on the14th of Feb which will include the US ambassador and local dignitaries.

There’s still some painting to do (did you know in a pinch, you can thin oil base paint with gasoline?) and renailing the roof where we had replace rotten purloins. We are getting more volunteers from the village so I know we will make it.


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