“And the final score is Nigeria 1, India 99. And the winner is Nigeria!” If you’re not a Nigerian born in the 70s, 80s and early 90s, you might wonder how a team who lost 99-1 would emerge a winner of a football match. Well, it’s one of those stories we were told as kids. We believed it, and there are those who still believe it today.
We loved stories, so the adults made sure they gave us all of it. Particularly I loved the Explanatory Narratives: the stories that told us why the tortoise has a cracked back or why there is an image of “an old woman” in the moon. Others included stories that explained why the lizard is always nodding and why a dog runs after cars.
These stories were movies to us. Mum could use it as a bait for us to eat: “If you finish your food, I’ll tell you a story.” LOL! Imagine being begged to eat food! That was then, till things changed. I remember once in my teenage years; I didn’t have appetite for food. It wasn’t heartbreak! I still don’t understand the relationship between the heart and the stomach. Well, for those who lose appetite when they have been served ‘breakfast’, congratulations to your emotions. After I lost appetite, I told mum, and she responded “God is good. Since there’s no food in the house, He has taken your appetite away.” There was food in the house. That was her way of letting me know I was a teenager.
Anyways, this post is not to talk about our parents’ sense of humour, but the stories we were told by them. One of them was that when we see egrets flying, we should sing “Lege Lege give me white fingers” and white spots would appear on our nails. White spots did appear on our nails. Didn’t they?
If you’re unfamiliar with these stories, it’s either the adults in your childhood didn’t do well or you had different stories. But here is one story we were all told: “Nigeria vs India in a final”. The final, we don’t know which, but it was a final. The story is an Explanatory Narrative that explained why India were banned from football and the death of Samuel Okwaraji.
Just like most stories, there was some truth to it. India didn’t partake in the World Cup in 1950 because they wanted to play barefoot, but it had nothing to do with Nigeria. How did Nigeria come in? No one knows! Also, Samuel Okwaraji, a true hero, died during a match against Angola but not India. Somehow, these stories were merged to give us 99-1.
Every area has its different version of the match; here is my area’s version:
To be continued…