Fun with Board Games
The Forgotten Sports
They are some of Uganda’s most popular games. Kwepena and Mweso are played across almost the entire nation.
Since this gala is about Ugandans connecting with their roots, what better way to link with their origins than through the two disciplines?
Kwepena and Mweso will therefore be a key component of the gala. Both young and old will that day swing into action in the two disciplines.
“Who said only the young can kwepena?” asked 50 year old Maliza Kitaka, who has promised to give the youngsters a run for their money in the hectic sport.
Kwepena is a word that loosely translates to ‘dancing.’ The game, which is popular among young people in Uganda, has been in existence for centuries.
Like dodgeball, it involves players taking turns to dodge a softball thrown by their opponents.
The game requires an open space with two persons at the opposite ends who throw softballs while one or more people in the center dart around so the ball doesn’t touch them. A score is recorded each time the ball hits a player.
Omweso on the other hand is more cerebral. It is about calculation.
Like in any other game, discipline is paramount. Strategy, speed and discipline are key. A player has up to three seconds to start a move, after the three seconds the player who might not have taken his turn forfeits his turn to play to his opponent.
Omweso requires a board of 32 pits, arranged with eight pits lengthwise towards the players, and four pits deep. Each player’s territory is the 16 pits on their side of the board. In addition, 64 undifferentiated seeds are needed.
The normal way to win the game is to be the last player to be able to make a legal move, possible by capturing all an opponent’s stones or reducing the opponent to no more than one seed in each pit. Alternatively, a player can win by capturing on both ends of the board in one turn.