BY DR Wilson ORHIUNU (BABAWILLY)
Here I am, Sir Skido (Kisco to friends) of the
flabby lower lip fame, an extremely capable
electrician and electric generator for hire
quasi-magnate. I furiously fan myself with the now
crumpled match programme at the liberty stadium,
Ibadan . Trying in vain to generate some "local
breeze" around my sweaty neck. See my trouble! That
nice cloud, that heavenly umbrella, drifted away
leaving us naked to the scorching, brain baking sun.
Thank God, the uncomplaining match programme also
doubles up as an umbrella. Sadly "local breeze"
ceases. I feel guilty being here. We (the Ajegunle
branch of the Lagos Association of electric
generator owners, L.A.E.G.O) hired a luxurious (Ekene
Dili Chukwu) bus from Iddo terminus for this match.
Early this morning as I draped myself in my green
white green replica kit, original Nike for that
matter, and began to pack my trumpet, Shekere,
whistle and Gangan (talking drum), that wife of mine
began to abuse me.
She claimed I hadn't given her "chop money" for the
week .I know you don't believe her. Ah –ah, even the
neighbors comment on how much fresher she looks
while I continue to lose weight. Then next minute I
was accused of throwing good money away in the name
of patriotism. In fact she said I was a tribalist
who only got on with his countrymen on match days.
All this at the top of her voice. As the watching
crowd increased so did her strength.
With tears in her eyes she told of how the children
dress in rags while their father patrols from one
stadium to another. To save face I emptied my
pockets for her and could only shake my head as she
promptly stuffed the cash into her brassiere. But
did the abuse stop?
I wish. Do you know I was almost left behind by the
bus at Iddo? Were it that I held the money for
tickets in my capacity as the Vice president and
acting treasurer of our association they would
surely have hit the Lagos-Ibadan express way without
You need to have witnessed the relief on their faces
when I arrived. Some even hailed me wildly by my
other nickname "Ajegunle jejune !" I felt so proud.
Anyway back to the present. Guilt is a bad thing, a
big weight on the soul. But sha, kick-off will cure
By the way sef, way should I feel guilty eh? Ah-ah,
I don't smoke, drink or womanize. Am I not entitled
to some pleasure in this life? Wetin? After all, I
wore torn clothes till the ripe old age of seventeen
and even the socks I have on presently have holes.
And did you know there are many advantages in kids
having well ventilated clothes in a hot country?
Please spare me those looks. If the children and
their mother are not satisfied with how I can afford
to clothe them, too bad!
Ah, kick -off is imminent. Now don't repeat this to
anyone but I hear the referee on duty tonight has a
certain reputation and to add alligator pepper to
pepper- soup, if you get my meaning, rumour has it
that someone slipped a brown envelope under his
hotel room door last night. They even went as far as
saying he charges in Dollars. Ten for Yellows,
twenty for Reds, forty for penalties and sixty for a
watertight offside trap. It's only a friendly so who
cares ? Let me not tell a lie, I care well well.
The Nigerian Super Eagles versus the Ghanaian Black
stars is like the clash of two elephants and as we
say in our village, it is the ground that suffers
when juggernauts collide. The rivalry extends back a
Sorry to bring up the dead at this point but my late
father use to say ‘he who sees fight and picks race
shall live to fight tomorrow’. I didn't believe it
at the time being young and ignorant but his words
came back to haunt me in this very stadium today.
As I queued for the tickets, the Ghanaian supporter
in front of me, clad in his "Yellow fever" replica
kit, was arguing heatedly with the stadium attendant
about something to do with money when he suddenly
spun round and said to me "brotha, if it is one
fifty Naira to da pound and eight thousand Cedis to
the pound, how much my gate fee in Cedis?
I was dumbfounded.
I broke out in a sweat. In fact I nearly soil my
underwear! I broke out in tears remembering all
those times I played truant during mathematics
classes at school. I am now useless in mental
arithmetic as a result. My father's face flashed
before my mind's eye wearing that "I told you so"
expression of his. I wailed even louder.
"Leave this craze man out of this matter Ojare, and
for the last time we accept only Naira and hard
currency!" shouted the stadium attendant before
sucking his teeth and slamming the shutters down
heavily with all the force he could muster.
Na wa. But come to think of it, this term "hard
currency" sef ,don't you think it presumptuous ? Is
the Naira soft or water water like my mother in
law's eba, eh? (Please don't tell my wife I said
that. I wan live long). Or is the Cedis gelatinous?
So what is it that makes Pound sterling and Dollars
strong like Iroko for bush eh? For the amount of
suffer I endure to obtain this Naira, I put it to
you that in my own books o, Naira is the strongest
currency of all. (Everyone with the one wey concern
This Naira sef, who name am. And who attended the
naming ceremony? Who broke the Kola? Was it the
oldest man in Nigeria? I think not. My guess would
be some big man tanked up with Odeku at the scrabble
table took the G and E out of NIGERIA and the rest
Anyway we must move on.
The beautiful cloud is back and "local breeze" has
recommenced. Ah-ah, you think they call us football
fans for nothing? The huge digital score board has
began to apologise for the game being one hour
behind. Suddenly, suddenly, a huge Mexican wave
hits. It's amplitude varies as it flows from arm to
arm. Riding on the wave is a rumor from the dressing
room, which also mutates as it travels from ear
through brain to ear through brain. Well, the
grapevine whispered that our team or should I say
our boys are refusing to exit the air- conditioned
dressing rooms because the sun is too hot!
Mark you, there is no Caucasian in the team. Them
all black, them fully insured by God against
dangerous sun rays irrespective of the leak in the
ozone layer. More rumors. Now there is a full-blown
quarrel in progress.
The foreign- based players have refused the local
players from partaking in the sharing of their sun
tan lotion. My patience is being stretched O! My
temperament is now that of one famished. I have
endured transport costs and added to that, loss of
earnings as my two electric generators lie dormant
in the shed, and these guys, being paid to play, are
grumbling about heat. No be here them born them? But
haba! Some people sabi to borrow-borrow o! Why can't
the local players buy their own sun tan lotion eh?
What is this I see. Ah!
One of our defenders is jogging to the microphone
set up on the field just in front of the
presidential box. He strokes his hair he runs. He
goes on to announce an apology for the delay which
was due to (you guessed right) “circumstances beyond
our control”. He then offers to read us poetry,
which I must confess was quite good. He received a
standing ovation at the end. The poem was entitled
Liberty and the last stanza went like this (but
don't quote me).
Liberty for you
Liberty for me
Liberty to know how many voted
Without the boxes being pinched
Liberty to know how many we are
Without the census being rigged.
After his prolonged bow he slipped on a headpiece
and spread both arms like the statue of Liberty. Na
wa! When he finally left for the dressing rooms the
crowd grew restless. Soon they were singing a
bastardised version of one of John Lennon's songs.
'All we are saying
Give us football'
Finally the teams ran out.