- Ayo Olopon, happens to be one of the oldest traditional games in Nigeria
cutting across different tribes in Nigeria, the yorubas called ayo olopon
while the edos call is ise, the twi people call it oware while igbo people
call it. Nchorokoto/Nch?/Ókwè
Ayo olopon is played in a carved wooden box, containing twelve holes (six
holes on each side), and forty-eight Ayo seeds (four seeds in each hole).
Two individuals take turn to play this game, which runs anti clockwise.
The first player begins by moving seeds from his right hand side to the
opponent’s side. If the seed-movement terminates in a hole with three or
less Ayo seeds, this player picks up the seeds, and seeds from preceding
holes, if any.
Players take turn until the seeds are exhausted. The player with upper hand
is called ?ta, and the weak or the losing player is called Ope. Spectators’
comments on the direction of the game add color to the game.
If a player records three straight wins, he becomes a champion (?ta), the
loser (Ope) quits; a new player takes over. Ayo game requires deep thought,
and good strategy to move seeds with the ultimate aim to win. Ayo, a
relaxation game is played mostly by menfolk, women too plays it; the
meeting point is usually under a big tree with shade or restaurant
Parents often encourages their children to play ayo olopon has its help to
sharpen their mathematical skills, this game is often played by people of
the same age group and gender
Some resources state that Ayo is not just a recreational game, but that it
also has spiritual significance: *“It is played in a house of mourning to
amuse the spirit of the dead before it is buried. It is very unlucky to
play the game at night as the spirits will want to join in and may carry
off the living at the end of the game. Each village would have two types
of boards, one with a flat top and one with a curved top, a bit like a
banana. When a man died the villagers would play on the board that was not
his favorite, so that his spirit would not want to join in” (Mancala Games