This game has been given various names, such as “akong” and “awale”, and is widely used in various cultures across sub-Saharan Africa. This example is from the Yoruba group in West Africa. Six kneeling figures hold the gameboard: two men hold it with their hands and four women do so with their heads while covering their breasts with their hands. The game is a strategy exercise in which the gameboard consists of 12 small circular hollows in 2 rows of 6, which could reproduce, to scale, the traditional distribution and social life of certain communities. In the game, two players play against each other and take turns trying to fill each hollow with the most chips, reflecting important concerns of the community such as fertility, the harvest, and an increase in fortune. Whoever is left with the smaller number of chips is the loser.


  • Title: "Akong" game
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1800/1899
  • Physical Dimensions: w60 x h18.5 x d17.5 cm
  • Provenance: This piece comes from a collection assembled in 1887 by the then Marine Infantry Lieutenant Luis Sorela Guaxardo-Faxardo (1858-1930), who was sent to Equatorial Guinea and was commissioned to prepare a scientific mission along the West African coast and learn about the organization of colonial settlements set up by some European nations. The expedition set off on February 11, 1887 and finished in January 1888, covering the West African coast from Senegal to Gabon and collecting diverse ethnographic objects along the way.
  • Type: Sculpture / Games
  • External Link: CERES
  • Photographer: Arantxa Boyero Lirón, 2011
  • Materials: Wood, paint
  • Cultural Context: Yoruba, Benin, Nigeria

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