People who share the same culture, background, and heritage tend to cluster together to show how proud they are about where they come from. Building such communities enriches and celebrates their ethnicities. Many women with varying backgrounds seek different avenues to commemorate each other, from blogging, to support groups, to clubs, but what most don’t realize is that such empowerment can simply come from games like bingo.

Over the last few years, the variety of bingo players has diversified, but both online and offline players are still dominated by the female demographic, according to a 2011 study conducted by the Bingo Reviewer. As social creatures, more women are drawn into the allure of social gaming, whether it be online or at the bingo hall down the street. The risk is not as great as other casino games, which makes the gaming experience that much more enjoyable for women.

Bingo can be an outlet for African women to bridge connections. While the UK is leading in terms of growth in number of players and amount won, online bingo is a trend that’s stretching towards all four corners of the world. A couple of years ago, Iceland started exporting their label to South Africa’s Checkers and Shoprite chains, which may be the reason why Iceland Bingo has been trying to expand to the African population. The chat rooms will allow for African women to build their online communities with others all over the world, thus it’s a great way to meet new people that share the same cultural values.

Empowering African women by bringing the female African community is important, but what is also essential to empowerment is educating other women about their heritage. Other than meeting in bingo halls and in chat rooms, customized bingo cards could be used to bring women together in order to celebrate African culture, traditions, and heritage. A night out on the town for Ladies’ Night could be substituted with a night in with bingo and cocktails. Instead of numbers on the cards, it could have key facts, historical events, or notable women. Boston University has an example set with African trivia, but it would be better to make cards that honor the likes of Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o or Nelson Mandela’s former wife, Winnie Mandela.

Lupita Nyong'o - Image by Gordon Correll, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Lupita Nyong’o – Image by Gordon Correll

African women should be, and can be, celebrated in many ways. The simplicity and lightheartedness that bingo brings could be an entertaining way to do so.