Tarumbeta is a game children play in north eastern Tanzania. It is a brilliant game for developing thinking and memory skills.

Age: Adults and older children

No. of players: 4

Equipment: 45 beans (dried beans, chickpeas or small pebbles could be used)

Time: 10+ minutes

Aim: To know and call out all 45 beans as they are being removed.

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Before the game of Tarumbeta begins, the 45 beans are arranged on the ground to form a triangle. The bottom row has 9 beans, the next row has 8 beans, the next row has 7 beans, and so on until the top row has one bean. Altogether there are 9 rows (see diagram).

Tarumbeta - African children's game

1.To play Tarumbeta the four children sit on each side of the triangle with one player at the top or apex of the triangle. That player is called the 'chief. The 'chief' is the referee. He must make sure that the game is played fairly. Two players sit on each side of the triangle. The fourth player sits at the bottom or base of the triangle with his back toward the game. He is the 'challenger' and does not look at the beans.

2. Players two and three (on the sides of the triangle) take turns to remove the beans. They must do this by starting in the bottom row with bean number 1 and then gradually moving upwards as each row empties. The players remove the bean closest to his side in the row being emptied.

3. As each bean is picked the chief claps his hands. The challenger's job is to call out the number of the bean which has been picked up, without looking at the triangle. However, the challenger must not call out when the first bean in each row has been removed. He must stay silent.

Player two removes bean number 1 first. This bean is closest to him. The chief claps his hands but the challenger does not call out because it is the first bean in the row. He remains silent. Player three then removes bean 9 which is closest to him, the chief claps his hands and the challenger calls out 'nine." Player two then removes bean 2, the chief claps, and the challenger calls out 'two'. This continues for beans 8, 3, 7, 4, 6 and 5. They are removed in turn until the first row is empty.

Bean 10 is removed, the chief claps his hands but the challenger again, must remain silent because it is the first bean in the second row. The challenger calls out as beans 17, 11, 16, 12, 15, 13 and 14 are removed. Now the second row has been removed.

Bean 18 is the first bean in row three to be removed so, once again, the challenger must remain silent. He calls out when 24, 19, 23, 20, 22 and 21 are removed.

The games continues to be played in this manner until all beans are removed and the challenger calls out '45'.

For children just learning to play Tarumbeta, it would be easier to begin with a triangle of only 10 beans.

Source: Adapted from "Games Around the World" UNICEF New York

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