Children’s Game #26: Kisolo

Tabacongo, DR Congo, 2021; 6:23 min
In collaboration with Julien Devaux and Félix Blume


Kisolo is one of a thousand variants of the global Ur-game, Mancala, a “sowing” game sometimes still played with seeds even when using a board. Its timeless agrarian gestuary follows the combinatorial rules of what is also a “count and capture” game. After ruining several carving knives on digging holes in the hard orange earth, two players squat either side of four rows of six (the third-century pits under a stele in Ethiopia have three rows). First, three stones to each hole, then the players take turns, gravely reciting numbers. The focus is on hands hanging loose and expectant or smoothly reaching, scooping, and distributing – never a moment’s hover – until one player has, somehow, captured all the stones.

Lorna Scott Fox

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