May 29, 2008

For football ... or for country?

It was evening on the 21st of May, 2008. Everywhere was strangely quiet. The streets were unusually scanty. The ever busy Ikorodu road was at half of its normal capacity. Third Mainland Bridge was free of traffic and Alfred Rewane road in Ikoyi looked scanty. Those who had not left their offices in a hurry decided to stay in till much later. But it was not midnight, neither was it an environmental sanitation exercise. No, it was time for the UEFA Champions league final.

Football fans converged in several places, often around a small TV, each person trying to maneuver his way to the most advantaged position. Chelsea fans seemed more in number than those of Manchester United and the blue color was more prominent. Somewhere in Surulere, a live cow was tied to a post with the Chelsea flag draped around it - ready to be butchered and barbecued to celebrate Chelsea's assumed win. A trophy was on a pedestal in another part of the city ready to be decorated by fans of the winning team. In another place, 2 cows were tied down, one for United and one for Chelsea. Cooks and Slaughter men stayed on alert ready to prepare a great feast. Drinks were ordered and iced as flags, jerseys, caps and stickers were displayed. Everywhere was either Red or Blue, there was no demilitarized zone.

Several days earlier had seen Chelsea fans holding rallies in several parts of the country notably Port Harcourt and Lagos, waving flags and banners and parading in a convoy of buses. It brought back to memory the days of the gubernatorial campaigns especially the PDP/AC battle in Lagos State.

Fast forward 2 hours, and the match had progressed into penalties. You could actually feel the whole city hold its breath. Somewhere in the east, a die-hard United fan passed out in the anxiety of the moment. Finally, Manchester United won and a great uproar went out. That was when the pandemonium began. Celebrations led to free-for-all fights in several places - as is almost always expected in such situations. Somewhere in Lagos, a fight broke out over the redemption of bets and broken bottles were freely utilized. Sadly, several lives were lost and many were wounded at the end of the day.

Now, here was a football tournament which took place in Europe with very few Nigerian players playing. The final match was played by an American owned club and a Russian owned club. Yet, Nigerians were ready to give their lives for the game. On the streets, about 1 out of every 5 cars has a Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool sticker displayed on its shields. Some have stickers so large they obstruct vision. In many offices, football is always the first discussion of the day. A lot of energy is used on a tournament that has nothing to do with our progress as a people or a nation.

It's all well to celebrate the win of Manchester. When last did we celebrate our country?
It's all well to identify with a foreign club and know everything about its history. When last did we identify with a Nigerian issue or the history behind the problem?
It's all well to have stickers, banners and plaques of teams in your car. Have you ever put a Nigerian flag or coat of arms in your car?
It's all well to use our energy during rallies and matches. When last did we use our energies for a community cause?

Today is Democracy Day in Nigeria, and as we celebrate the anniversary of our transition from military rule, let's celebrate Nigeria, and let's pledge to do our own little part in making Nigeria better, because when the cards are down, Nigeria is all we really have, and we have to live with and in it.

God bless Nigeria.


truth said...

I would have easily missed reading this post today since you have somewhat abandoned us here.

I totally forgot today was of any significance to Nigeria, not surprisely that is. Nigerians have a gazillion lessons to learn on being patriotic, one think I totallt LOVE about the Americans. It makes sense to stand by your flag, your national freedom and other upheld values.

On the funny side: On the day of the championship my car broke down on a lonely highway and it took a towing truck all day to come get me from the nearest town! Days later my (just turned)fiance said,"I'm sure I disturbed my neighbors with my sporadic screams on Wednesday".

I responded saying,"Aww, how sweet, where you that worried I was stranded on that lonely highway?" OOPS! Dude just realized he had committed the utmost blunder. My fiance is a MAN U addict and was refering to their excitement over their's long been forgiven.

On another brighter note, today is my parents' 37th wedding anniversary! Even if May 29th never reminds me to celebrate any democratic liberty, luckily I still get to celebrate my parents' love that's as desirable and as sweet as old wine.


Anonymous said...

Poignant words, dude.

NaijaBabe said...

True say mehn...true say

shalewa said...

"and let's pledge to do our own little part in making Nigeria better, because when the cards are down, Nigeria is all we really have, and we have to live with and in it." so true.

Standtall said...

29th of May, is always a time to reflect on how far we have come in Nigeria and I dont think it's a time for celebration. It's a time for deep reflection and way forward.

On football, u know it unites pple and take one's breath away, I wonder if the same could be said for celebrating Democracy day

tunde said...

hallo citizen,
i just came across ur blog a couple of hours ago, and i have been enjoying it ever since. your words have really helped with my early morning bathroom visit... nothing like a great blog to get the bowel moving.
on a more serious note, im way proud to be a nigerian, super proud, people like you are doing a great service to the country. Excuse me if this sounds condescending but it is surprising to find good conversations among nigerians, especially in written form, so happening upon ur blog is an inspiration.
i wish u all the best, and i also want to say hi to all the other peeps who comment on ur blog, they are equally as interesting and fascinating. i think i have a love jones in my bones for naija...
anyway... keep it up.
hey.. there is one thing i want to take issue with you over, it's ur blog on hyip's or something of the sort. i think anything that promises to produce a 100% return on an investment is a lie, in fact its a greedy lie. that is called money doubling and i dont think anyone should be encouraged to invest in such schemes. if anyone is interested in getting that kind of return, do it the old fashioned way, win the lottery or start a business...
okay thats my little take on that.

when u get a chance visit my site pls join and also start discussions on there.i will love to have folk like u on there (shameless plug)

alright men, all the best.


Tayo said...

@Truth, that's funny. You sef, how'll u allow your car to break down on the day of the finals eh? The guy is not to be blamed! OK?
@aworan, thanks man
@naijababe, Thanks ...
@shalewa, yes oh!
@standtall, true talk. Football does unite people unlike any other sport.
@tunde, thanks a lot for your words. The hyips are long dead now and have left many wounded. I'll check out your site soon.

Vera Ezimora said...


What is it with sports sef?

Anyway, update!

aloted said...

hey tayo...long time!

i have no comments on the football bit cuz i am not a football person...:)

Nigeria is in our hands...ti gbogbo wa ni...e no go spoil!

Tayo said...

@Vera, you don't know what it is with sports? sorry o! Anyway, I don update
@Aloted, Yes o. Ti gbogbo wa ni. You don come back from your honeymoon?