ABULA GAME is one of the arrow-heads traditional sports in the promotion and popularization of our indigenous games in Nigeria and Africa. As the Abula Game was invented in the month of February, 1984 and to really appreciate the pioneer player, participants, supporters and promoters of the Abula Game, I am highly elated to recall this article in order to show that the pioneer lovers of this game will continue to be reckoned with.
This article is culled from the archive. It was published in TESCOM NEWS in 2004. It is just as relevant and fresh. It is handy enough to be used as the anniversary cake to celebrate, as Abula Game turned 34 on 8th February 2018. Abula, share your anniversary cake as follows:
Abula was invented and first played as a full game on the 8th of February, 1984 at Idi-Araba High School (IDHS) Mushin, Lagos State, by Mr. E.F Yusuf (now popularly called in Tradition Sports circle as Mallam Elias Yusuf). He was the then Sports master of Idi-Araba High School under the examplary leadership of Mrs. M.J. Elegbeleye, the then Principal of the School. She provided a conducive atmosphere to the development of the game and its initial growth. On 22nd February 1984, two experts from the Physical and Health Education Department, University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba, Dr. A.A. Adebayo and Mr. A.O. Philips saw the game played at IDHS. They rated the game as being interesting and recommended it. This was the first experts contribution to the game. It was a major morale booster for the game. After this, the Mushin SMC took an interest in the game through its sports unit under Mrs. Adeniji, Mr. Afuwape and supported by Alhaja Fagbenro under Prince A.O. Oyenuga, the then Secretary of Mushin SMC. Subsequent Secretaries of Mushin SMC that recognized the game were Mr. A.A. Sopehin and Mr.A.O Adeogun.
What is Abula? Abula is a ball game developed on the principles of balanced diet as epitomized by the Yoruba Traditional dish called Abula. The Abula dish is as old as the Yoruba civilization. It is made up of Amala (carbohydrate base), gbegiri (protein base), ewedu (mineral salt base) and oil (fat and oil base). So Abula game has several physical activities embedded in it when being played in a game’s situation. Such include standing, walking, short runs, squatting, bending, jumping, volleying, spiking, diving etc. All interwoven while playing the Abula game. It is a four aside game played in a court of 16m by 8m over a high net in the middle. It goes the length of 16points to win a normal game.
In 1989 Abula was one of the projects that represented Lagos State at the National Instructional Materials Exhibition in Ilorin, Kwara State through Mr. Bombata.
From there, the inventor picked up the courage to formally seek formal approval for the game. So in 1990 the Lagos State Ministry of Education granted an approval for the spreading of the game round Lagos State Schools and later gave approval for the formation of Abula game’s club in post primary schools in Lagos State in other to give practical expression to the earlier approval, so that the game would be established in schools. This led to the formation of the clubs in schools. The first launched Abula club in the schools was at Bolade Grammar School on 1st June 1996 under the leadership of Mrs. F.O Ajaguna, the then Principal of the school. Other schools that established Abula game then were Igbobi Girls High School under Mrs. A.O Ogini, Government College Ikorodu, under Alhaji Okuboyejo, Festac College under Mrs. E.K Aroyewun, Apostolic Grammar School under Mrs. Farinu, Ajao Estate Grammar School, under Mrs. Uzoigwe, Mushin Community High School under Mrs. Shade Kufo and Ilupeju College under Mr. Omotosho. As the schools were embracing Abula, the basic Educational Services further approved Abula as one of the schools sports in Lagos State under the then Lagos State School Sports Federation.
This was under Mrs. V.O. Ogunmodede with her staff members like Mr. T. Ayoade, Mr. Odunowo and Miss Shittabey promoting the game from Parker House, Igbobi. Infact, Mr. Ayoade was instrumental to the publication of study materials on Abula and African Billiards in social studies book for primary schools in Lagos State.
However, before the series of approval of Abula by Lagos State Ministry of Education, the inventor had spread the game to Oduduwa Secondary School under Mr. Popoola (1987), He was the first Principal of school to accept Abula outside Idi-Araba High School. The inventor brought the game to Ajumoni Secondary School (1988), when he was deployed there as Ag. Vice Principal. At Ajumoni, Chief Faberabo even supported the game to take part in the National Technology Exhibition week in 1990. In 1992, the inventor was deployed as Vice Principal to Ewetuntun Grammar School where he met Mr. Dele Oyeleru an Agric teacher who embraced the game so much that he was later selected as Honorary National Coach of Abula by a private group that formed Abula Federation of Nigeria under Alhaji A.B Fashola. When the inventor was redeployed to Bolade Grammar School Oshodi (1993) as VP the game was established there with Mrs. Ajaguna as Principal. When she was redeployed to LAFRO, Mrs. Ajaguna established Abula there. Bolade Grammar School received Productivity Certificate through the Abula Family Game (AFAGA) which was exhibited at Alausa in one of the productivity week programmes under the leadership of Mrs. Amodeni.
It should be noted that it has been among the players trained in these schools that have represented Lagos State at the National Sports Festival in BENUE 96, IMO 98, BAUCHI 2000 and EDO 2002. Some of these players have also become coaches and technical officials in Abula. The Abula coaches for Imo, Niger, Oyo and Delta States finished from these schools.
Messrs Awosika, Megbowon, Aminu and others contributed to the general acceptance of the game through its publication in this professional magazine, TESCOM NEWS. The inventor received letter of commendation from PPTESCOM following Abula receiving International Olympic Committee patronage in 1994 through Sports For All Nigeria and the Nigeria Olympic Committee Lagos State Ministry of Education also sent a letter of commendation.
In 1998, Lagos State Government, through Ministry of Information, Culture and Sports sent a letter of commendation to the inventor, describing him as an asset to the state and humanity following Abula, becoming a scoring event at the 11th National Sports Festival, Imo 98. PPTESCOM has been very forward-looking as she always released the inventor and his close associates Messr. S.A Daudu, Dele Oyeleru, Olaewe, Tunji Ogunbambi and others to participate in programmes such as the 3rd World Festival of Traditional Sports, Hannover 2000 in Germany and the 8th All Africa Games, Abuja 2003 and to several National Sports Festivals.
PART TWO: Abula Game spread to these states mentioned below as they have been part of the National Sports Festival at one National Sports Festival or the other. Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Rivers, Edo, Cross Rivers, Bayelsa, Imo, Benue, Kaduna , Bauchi, Niger State, Jigawa, Bornu, Plateau, Adamawa States and FCT Abuja.
PART THREE: The Game Abula was approved to be in the National Schools Curriculum of Nigeria by the 48th Session of National Council on Education and the Nigerian Educational Research And Development Council (2007).
Mr. Andrew Ekejiuba wrote a news talk on Abula, and it was broadcast on Radio Nigeria during this pioneering period to educate people on the game.
PART FOUR: The next levels for the game are: To be a game of mass participation in schools and the general public. For championships, leagues and several competitions. To have facilities all over the place especially in schools and to go international. To know more about Abula Game, visit: http://www.afrotradosports.com
By: Mallam Elias Yusuf