Black Games, African and African American made

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A Presentation of the “Sowing Games,” by MBARGA OWONA, Serge Bienvenu and friends, adapted from the original submission in the 1990’s, edited again September 2010.

SUNGO the sowing game

“Sungo”  is played with grains that are sown in boxes dug in a wooden board. These boxes are placed in two rows and a certain rotation is chosen in order to undertake the sowing. The aim of the game is to reap the maximum number of grains, according to rules based on their numerical distribution in the boxes.

The grains do not belong to any player. The only thing which determines which player as the right to manipulate them is their position. The game is played by two persons or against Kulu’s Tribe (the word processor). The board is made up of 2 rows of boxes.

Free download  SUNGO.EXE works on DOS or Windows.

The number of boxes mainly depends on the origin and the variation of the game. The players operate one after the other, a strike is made when a player chooses one of the boxes found on his side, takes the content and distributes sows in the following boxes, putting one grain per box.

If at the end of his turn, the player stops the grain distribution in one of his opponent’s boxes, there emerge two possibilities. If the content of the last box has between 0 and 4 grains, the player reaps the grains, and those of the preceding row, if their content ranges from 0 to 4 grains. If the content of the last box adds up to more than 4 grains, the player does not reap them and it is his opponent’s turn to play.

The sowing game is a first step towards the knowledge of notions of sums for young teenagers, due to the arithmetical nature of their rules. But it is above all an excellent game of thought for adults thanks to a few concepts whose mastery enables one to distinguish the beginner from the old player.

One of the fundamental concepts is the notion of BIDOA LOGIC. It is that approach that is followed in order to develop this scheme. Several times one hears this sentence when two players are playing Sungo or Awele: « there you are caught trick you as far as bidoas are concerned.

But what does this strange word mean? What logic hides behind this vocabulary which
is only used by Sungo experts and those of other sowing games. The idea of BIDOA LOGIC has a domination place in the exercise of the sowing game.

It is true that the aim of the game is to stock pawns and have as many as possible. But, among the fervent followers of the game, one recognizes the expert’s game in the art of defeating the opponent’s attempts to build a coherent game strategy. One can moreover note in that respect that in Sungo, victory is not obtained when one has the majority of pawns plus one ; that is to say, you don’t have to reap more pawns than your opponent in order to win — you have to fill one of his boxes during the redistribution of the harvest. This proves that the aim of the game is not to do some « optimism », that is run after every vulnerable pawn. It is therefore essential to build a coherent strategy in order to win.

In order to do that one uses a method based on great anticipation. You, therefore, have to keep a kinematic look on the game at every moment, that is, master the movement of pawns and direct it. The notion of Bidoa is built in that effect. BIDOA is a function of appraisal which enables you to build a game strategy based on the supplying of attics that one would like to build and feed.

BIDOA’S LOGIC’S is simple: If someone’s Bidoa is superior to that of his opponent he can then direct the movement of pawns as he likes. All the work is based on the development of equations than on the algorithm of that function in order to directive the choice of the machine towards the best game in a given game situation. This great evaluation function enables one to go through brutal methods of evaluation based on the search of all possible shots.

These types of steps usually lead to a real combinatory explosion because of the number of alternatives given by some games.

HOMEBEATS, the Multimedia CD ROM ( 1990s era)

A multimedia CD_ROM for Windows and Macintosh computers.

HomeBeats is a multimedia journey through time, from Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia, to the making of modern Britain. The first CD-ROMon racism and the black presence in Britain, it fuses music, graphics, video, text, and animation into a stunning voyage of
of personal and historical discovery for every user.

Through a series of fully interlinked sections named Memories, Places, People, Visions, and Images, HomeBeats makes the links between past and the present accessible to young people in a way possible in no other medium.

It covers the history of the struggle for racial justice, tracing the connections between slavery, the colonial experience, and modern day racism.

The story of how black communities were built in the UK is told through the stories of eight locations in Britain: Birmingham, Bradford, Brixton, the East End of London, Glasgow, Liverpool, Notting Hill, and Southall.

Easy and fun to use, with a soundtrack by Asian Dub Foundation, HomeBeats lets you learn at your own pace. These are just some of the topics:

  • Sugar and slavery
  • India’s freedom struggle
  • The scramble for Africa
  • The Civil Rights movement
  • Refugees and asylum-seekers
  • Images of black people
  • Fascism in Europe
  • Biographies and portraits of 50 key individuals from John Archer, the first black mayor in Britain, to Angela Davis, a leader of the US Black Power movement.

    Other features include:
  • Quiz game
  • Search facility
  • Fully indexed
  • 200,000 words of text articles
  • Glossary of keywords
  • Hundreds of photographs
  • Over 20 video clips.
  • Over 1 hour of audio material

The Homebeats Interview

The “HomeBeats” Interview with blackSoftware.com, back in the day.

The Speaker is Arun Kundnani of the Institute of Race Relations, London England, and publisher of the HomeBeats multimedia CD-ROM. Arun was interviewed by the developers of Blacksoftware.com.

Who should buy HomeBeats? Please describe some practical uses for it.

HomeBeats is for anyone who wants to understand the role racism has played in history over the last 500 years from the early periods of colonization and slavery through to the present day. The focus is on the inter-related histories of peoples caught up in the web of the British empire and their descendants today. There is a good deal of material also on the development of slavery in the USA and its eventual abolition, and the later civil rights and black power movements. Basically HomeBeats is an electronic encyclopedia of world history but with a very different perspective from the well-known products in this field such as those by Microsoft or Dorling Kindersley.

HomeBeats is already in use in thousands of schools, youth clubs, and homes in the UK, playing a key role in educating young people of all races to the histories that define us today.

What kind of computers can use the “HomeBeats” CD-ROM?

The overwhelming majority of our users run the software on Windows 95/98/NT. However, the CD-ROM is a multi-format disk that runs equally well on any of the following OS systems: Win 3.1/95/98/NT or Mac OS7/8/9.

What was it like producing “HomeBeats?” Describe any difficulties you faced and how you overcame them.

HomeBeats took about one year to produce. The main bulk of the work is doing research – actually HomeBeats has about 200,000 words of originally commissioned text written by experts in various fields. That’s a lot of material to be researched, written, edited, proofed, etc. We did, however; want HomeBeats to have as much detail as possible. Trying to arrange all this material into a coherent story and link it all together was a further challenge.

What is the most challenging issue when bringing a product like this to the marketplace?

We, unfortunately, we do not have any significant funds to promote the product. We basically rely on word of mouth, magazine reviews and sympathetic individuals spreading the word. This means that our sales have been increasing slowly but surely since the product’s launch.

Mention any odd and unusual feedback you may have received from anyone who had an expressed interest in purchasing the “HomeBeats” CD ROM.

For me, personally, the feedback from teenagers, particularly black teenagers, is the most inspiring. We often get comments like ‘thanks, it really brings the history to life’ and things on these lines.

Blacksoftware.com thanks Arun Kundnani of the Institute of Race Relations, London England, for participating in this interview.