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Game inventor seeks to teach core values
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The object of the game is to get all three gemstones to the center of the board. (Brandt Williams)
Cultural values serve as directions for how people are supposed to behave. Some say without these directions, people tend to do things that are bad for themselves and for society. A Minneapolis inventor has created a board game which he hopes will help people learn and discuss societal values. The game is targeted at Africans and African Americans, however the game's creator says the values apply to everyone.

St. Paul, Minn. — Kennedy Agyenkwah is an educator/entrepreneur and inventor of a game called the Core Values game. He's showing Carolyn Tatum how to manuever a green marble-like game piece across the board. Her piece lands on a bright green dot so Tatum picks up a corresponding card.

sitting elders see farther than youth standing
- --West African proverb

"Unfaithfulness breaks the wedlock of a happy marriage," reads Tatum. "Move 6 spaces back."

Agyenkwah has invited several colleagues to play the game at a student lounge at Metro State University's St. Paul campus. Each player has three pieces, called gemstones. They roll a die, move their gemstones around a series of concentric circles and pick up value statement cards along the way. Some of the cards contain African proverbs like, "sitting elders see farther than youth standing."

Other cards contain images and words spoken by African and African American historical figures.

The object of the game is to get all three gemstones to the center of the board. However, Agyenkwah says the goal is to educate players and observers. He takes a moment to elborate on one of the cards.

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Image Kennedy Agyenkwah

"This image here is Ahkenaton," says Agyenkwah. "He was an ancient egyptian King or Pharoah. And during his reign, he banished warfare."

Agyenkwah has several accounting degrees, but his real passion is education. He was born in Ghana and lived for several years in nearby Liberia. There, he founded the AME Zion University in Monrovia. He left before civil war erupted in the region in the mid '80s. Agyenkwah was troubled by the realization that the students he was teaching put down their pens and took up arms to fight one another. That led him to question his vocation.

"So what's the object of education?" he says. "Is it that we train people or we educate people? When we are educating people, we're giving them the power to achieve their human potential."

Agyenkwah says core values should be at the base of any proper education. He says truly educated people don't wage war or do other things that harm people. Values like those are universal. However, Agyenkwah says the black community suffers because values like respect for elders, excellence in education are lacking and family structure has broken down.

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Image Playing the game

One of the game players has just successfully moved all her pieces to the middle circle of the board - to the section called 'wisdom.'

In the board game as in life, Agyenkwah says a person wins when they achieve wisdom. The game board provides a map to that goal. At the center of the middle circle is a square - representing the four sides of the base of a pyramid. Each side represents a basic human need or function: food, sex, sleep and self preservation. According to the diagram human beings achieve wisdom when they can fast instead of fixate on food; transform sex into love; sleep less and mediate more, and turn self-preservation into serving others.

"I think this is what we all have to aim at. How to move from the base of the pyramid to the top of the pyramid," says Agyenkwah. "How to move from the beastly nature to our divine human nature. And it is by talking about values - it is by practicing those values. Not only talking about them. It has to impact our lives. That is the most important thing to me."

Agyenkwah says he's sold 100 of the board games - half of those were sold in the United Kingdom. The Core Values game is available in several Minneapolis gift shops.

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