Arts

Friendly War

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 hairhe 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.

The thousands of white doves that should have been released as the footballers took to the pitch didn’t materialize. Only three doves were released. A wave of rumor brought news that the secretary in charge of the Local organising committee (LOC ) had embezzled the funds, then lied that a mystery bug called Ogunpa Virus had killed all the birds while in transit.

National anthems played, hands were shaken and the kick-off was upon us.

I cheered till my voice failed then shook my Shekere to nonsense before blowing my whistle with all my might. You would have thought I was being paid to do this. I looked round the vast arena and surveyed my comrades who all looked like happy ants reveling in the sugar coated cereal bowl of a giant. I began to see things in another perspective at that instant.

Let the truth be told, I am a football addict to the core. I looked to my side and my friend “show-boy” Shagasha was in tears. He is definitely more obsessed than yours’ truly. Was it not show- boy who passed the litmus test in grand style? I tell you, at our last meeting there were only two seats left on the coach when in came thirty late- comers all purporting to be bonafide Super Eagles supporters.

By the powers vested in me as the honorable V.P of the association I lined up the said thirty in a single file at right angles to the assembly and shouted “right turn”. They all obeyed resulting in their hungry faces all looking into the assembly who by now were completely bewildered.

I announced that the true supporters would be revealed today today. I noticed Bro’ Jimoh whisper to a friend he was sure I intended to march them to the taps outside and separate the men from the boys ‘Gideon style’ as written in the holy scriptures. You should have seen the look on their faces as I crept behind each of the thirty and whispered into their ears looking for a reaction and then moved on.

To the first I said “Roger Milla”, nothing happened. I moved on. “Roberto Baggio” I whispered to the fourteenth man. Nothing. I shook my head. Then I changed to “Denmark”. Nothing. By the time I got to show-boy I had reverted to “Roberto Baggio”. On hearing the name show-boy take body stone ground in a most dramatic faint. I tipped my soft drink up his nostrils as he lay comatose on his back and he was promptly revived. He jumped up wailing. “Give me Visa and ticket o! To Italy o! Make I go cut that ponytail, his secret source of power o! He had taken leave of his senses.

I nodded at the assembly and they understood. Show-boy had just secured his seat on the coach. The next positive test was Otango. As soon as I uttered “Den..” he cried bitterly. He couldn’t even wait for me to say “mark”,the yeye obsessive vulcanizer. All this futball madness sef.

I once heard a strange explanation for it all. My friend said (please don’t quote me o!) that bottle fed kids grow up to play Rugby while breast fed ones ended up liking soccer. He went on to say it was due to a Freudian bush trap or something. I must add that this friend in question was actually quoting a sports psychologist he was driving between the Sheraton hotel, Ikeja and the National stadium in Suru-lere .You know how taxi drivers are. Eavesdropping without license then jumping to wrong conclusions. We now call the guy Sigmund Fraud.

The game starts well. The referee soon shows his true colours. Every Ghanaian attack is off side, even the Nigerian supporters screamed “Ojoro” in disgust. The game drags on till out of nowhere one of our diminutive left sided defenders players blasted in a goal.

The ball seemed to glide in slow motion through the Ibadan air, beating the hapless goalkeeper till its flight was abruptly cut short by the net, which exploded, into a thousand ripples.

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