Oxford 2005 Colloquium

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Board Game Studies Colloquium VIII


VÝktor Bautista i Roca

AFRICA HIDDEN INSIDE A SMALL HOLE: Mancala games played in Dominican Republic

There has been no written information about mancala games played in the Spanish speaking Caribbean. It seems games researchers have published nothing about them, and even some Dominican folklore specialists deny a large African influence in Dominican culture:

In spite of the black element, clear-cut in the population, its influence on the Dominican traditional culture is very scarce. [...] The Haitian influence is null [...] Besides, the difference of languages always established an unsurmountable barrier between both countries. (Edna Garrido de Boggs. Introduction to Floklore Infantil de Santo Domingo. 1955. Ciudad Trujillo)

This paper is about a research trip done by the author in early 2005. During it two different mancala games (called ?hoyito? or ?las casitas?) were found. Also, a few other board games were seen, as many other games and toys.

It will be also shown there are no frontiers in Hispaniola Island for mancala games, as the same ones are found in Southern Dominican Republic and around Port-au-prince, Ha´ti.

And to finish, note that modernisation is killing the mancala games. On bigger towns only older people remember the game, and in smaller ones usually it is only played outside the village center, where concrete has not reached the streets.

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