This can be confirmed in their constitution, according to Acting President, Monday Likwepa. He had visited the ‘Star’ last week visibly overjoyed for having received some financial assistance from the Tanzania Port Authority (TPA), which should help put them in a better position to fulfil that desire.
“It is in this endeavour that thefederation have prepared to have a bao championship here in Dar es Salaam on the seventh of next month.
This date was deliberately chosen so as the event can coincide with the fortieth anniversary since the death of the late Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume, the first President of Zanzibar, who championed the popular revolution, which led to the deposing of the last Sultan on the Isles,” Mr Likwepa explains.
After this grand opening the competition and exhibitions are being programmed to continue until April 26, which is a national holiday known as Union Day. After this the action moves onto preparing for their presentation of the game at the Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair grounds, along the Kilwa Road in Temeke, Dar es Salaam.
Therefore, from June 28, the BGFT will be holding fort there, until July 12, when the event closes. The next thing on their time-table is to have more competitions, this time to get individual winners of the game and end with 12 national champions. This will start from August 10 and continue until September 5.
These winners are the ones who will then move-on to play in the international championships in October. Other participants are expected to attend from various countries including Italy, Holland and Switzerland. It is from this that an international champion will be established. It is necessary to remember here that this traditional board game, is played in most of East Africa and other countries on the continent like the Comoros, Malawi, some areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
As can be seen along city and town road sides and village corners, it is very popular among the Swahili people here and neighbouring countries. The name, “Bao” - the Swahili word for “board” indicates this. Throughtout the region someone, who maters the game is called “bingwa” meaning “master” in English or “fundi” which means artist.
These people are held in high respect within these circles. Presently, there are three prominent bao playing clubs in Italy, which according to Mr Likwepa is the European country where this game is most popular. It is in there that last year’s international championship was held. The year before it was in Holland, as it was the previous year, which was the country of the reigning champion. Now a Swiss won last year’s event in Italy and the tournament was previously planned to be held there.
However, because club members there believe that there are very good players here and these players cannot afford to cover the required travel expenses, the Europeans have opted to hold them here in Dar es Salaam instead. “There will also be players from Spain, Portugal, France, Brazil and the United Kingdom together with a number of others.
We are expecting the government, through national companies would make a financial contribution, just like the TRA has done by giving us these 3m/- to help make this occasion what it should be. It is important that we as Tanzanians give this game support so it can continue growing and carry the country’s flag all over the world,” Mr Likwepa said.
He had much to say about this game being well known for its complexity and strategically detailed moves, which have raised interest from scholars of several disciplines, including game theory, complexity theory and psychology.