History

The Ancient Game of Moraba-raba

As legend goes, Moraba-raba was first played in Ancient Egypt. It was also played on all the dusty tracks by the tribes that migrated South of the Equator to settle, finally, beyond the waters of the mighty Limpopo River . They played by scratching the lines into the dirt and in the evening firelight, they played with stones of different colours. The people of the tribes scratched the game onto the sun-baked rocks playing with small and larger stones.




- - - - -
The Limpopo would mark the boundary of a country with a multitude of warring tribes and peoples: South Africa .
- - - - -
Young herd-boys needed to learn how to guard cattle, and how to be strategic in raiding other tribe's cattle. The elders of the tribe taught the youngsters the game to sharpen their skills.The playing pieces of Moraba-raba represented cows, and are still known thus today. The game taught strategy as all the pieces have equal value and the terrain and balance of power is constantly shifting. The game is quick, without the long pauses to think that are characteristic of chess. The game taught the young herd-boys a broader vision; how to see the bigger picture and then act decisively and to their advantage.


- - - - -
Similarly the king of the tribe had his own game on a large cowhide with which to practice military strategy. The king understood how the same number and strength of pieces could, through his military decisions, so easily become a victory or a total defeat. The game allowed for crucial analyses of how a single wrong move could lose a game; creating a weakness that unraveled the strength of all his other defensive structures. The best Moraba-raba players were often chosen as the king's military advisers.


- - - - -
When missionaries came to East Africa , they played the game and took it home with them. The game of Nine-Men's-Morris became widespread throughout England . Morris was an adaptation of “Moor”, the English name of North African Negro people and uses only nine, instead of twelve, pieces.
- - - - -
Meanwhile, with the gold rushes that created the cities of the interior of South Africa , workers were drawn to the bustling mining towns, and townships mushroomed. The game was played by the mine workers, and eventually coloured bottle tops from beers and soft drinks replaced the stones, and the lines were drawn onto pieces of cardboard and metal sheets. There was always segregation in the developing mining towns and this evolved a century later into a formal government policy called Apartheid.
- - - - -
The prejudice that led to Apartheid meant that the rich culture of black Africans was never appreciated or incorporated into white culture. This was never more apparent than when Sophiatown and District Six, two thriving coloured communities were literally bulldozed by the National Party Government. Perhaps their tight-knit, thriving communities that explored jazz, high-fashion in the fifties and lived in contentment despite the rigors of Apartheid were a threat to the National Government. The communities were haphazardly relocated to several homelands and coloured areas. The spirit of the communities were forever lost, and the renaming of Sophia town “Triomf” – the Afrikaans word for triumph – sealed that fate.


- - - - -
Yet the richness of the culture and the strength of the people that the promoters of Apartheid sought to dismiss, has emerged since the 1994 elections that saw Nelson Mandela brought to power. Finally the playing fields have been levelled and South Africans of all colours are in a position to share the best of their cultures. But where does the conversation between these historically separated groups begin? Very often, people simply don't know how to start a conversation such as this. Moraba-raba is a portable piece of common ground; an extension of the hand of friendship over language and cultural divides.
- - - - -
Moraba-raba has survived the battle-scarred history of South Africa . Now this African game could help a nation usher in the glorious future of unity of which our former president Nelson Mandela spoke; with a nation playing its way into mutual respect and understanding. We could share our ideals along with our recreation time and learn about patience, forward thinking and kinship, as one nation, in this world of constant change.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------





 

 

Diketo Copyright 2002-2016
Diketo Traditional African Boardgames CC / Reg No. 2002/011341/23
This website was & developed by Agent Orange Design. All rights reserved 2006-2016. Made and designed in South Africa.

 
How to Play
click here




------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Umlaba Laba


The Zulu Version “Umlaba-laba
The Game of African Kings”

To place an order,please contact our
sales consultants.

African Games | Design Team
info@africangames.co.za


Moraba Raba

The Sotho Version “Morbaba-raba
The Game of African Warriors”

To place an order,please contact our
sales consultants (min. order: 2,000 units)

African Games | Design Team
info@africangames.co.za


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



To place an order contact one of our sales consultants (min. order: 2,000 units)

African Games | Design Team
info@africangames.co.za



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



To place an order, please contact one of our sales consultants (min. order: 2,000 units)

African Games | Design Team
info@africangames.co.za








back to the top