Bao is a traditional mancala board game played in most of East Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Comoros, Malawi, as well as some areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (mostly Eastern Congo) and Burundi. It is most popular among the Swahili people of Tanzania and Kenya; the name itself “Bao” is the Swahili word for “board” or “board game”. In Tanzania, and especially Zanzibar, a “bao master” (called bingwa, “master”; but also fundi, “artist”) is held in high respect. In Malawi, a close variant of the game is known as Bawo, which is the Yao equivalent of the Swahili name.
Bao is well known to be a prominent mancala in terms of complexity and strategical depth, and it has raised interest in scholars of several disciplines, including game theory, complexity theory, and psychology. [x]