Recently, I came across a very articulate article on Langa, one of our team sports in Traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria. As one of the founding and pioneering fathers in establishing a National Sport Association for our Traditional Sports in Nigeria, I did not come across the word “LANGA” until 1994 when the newly Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports (NATS), [inaugurated in August 1993 by the then Chief Executive of the National Sports Commission in Nigeria, Chief Alex Akinyele,] was out with her first program me. The program me was national Traditional Sports Festival in Nigeria. Eleven Traditional Sports were selected among the several Traditional Sports in Nigeria to feature in this festival in December, 1994
Langa was one of the Sports that participated in this festival. In fact, Langa was one of the most favored sports in that festival for obvious reasons. One, the first Chairman of NATS, Alh. G.N Hamza, the chief organizer of this outing of NATS; if you mentioned ten Traditional Sports in Nigeria and you did not mention Langa, and then you had not mentioned any Traditional Sports. Two, Alh. Bako Abdu, who succeeded Alh. G.N. Hamza in office was a foremost lecturer and sport administrator that was very famous for promotion of Langa. However, this system still did not favor Langa very much, may be, because the system has not really favored Traditional Sports as a group. However, “half a loaf is better than none.” At least we have a sport association like others. However the support for the sports associations handling our Traditional Sports should be special and the people operating the associations should be people who understand the nature and uniqueness of these associations and the spectra to cover to really record the success required by the associations for the society and the sports.
Going into the article in question, it is titled; “Langa: A culture going extinct”. It was published, December 5th 2009 by Daily Trust Group. [Please read the full article direct so that you can feel what Daily Trust is impacting. It is what the people or the society is feeling about Langa and our Traditional Sports].
Going through the first paragraph of the narrative, I was deeply enthralled, entertained and informed much more than expected about Langa, particularly when I discovered that langa was originally a moonlight sport. In fact since 1994 when I have been relating to Langa in several levels, programs, rules shaping, programming etc. I had never known that Langa had moonlight – sport history. When I came across this in the article, it was really coincidental, that it was when I was writing about moonlight sports in Ekiti land, it just clicked right there. And that linked me to the sport called Lanka-nlaka in Yoruba land. I have always known that Langa had a relationship with lankanlaka in Yoruba land. Lakanlaka is also a hopping sport, like langa, and there were two categories of the sport. The one for just straight race between two athletes or more athletes, hopping from one spot to another. The second one is the one in which you hop and shape your two arms in the front like crab pincer and when rams are going to charge and jammed the opponent. It was called cockfighting. As described above, those two categories of lankanlaka have almost gone into extinction so to say. I have not been seeing children practice them of late.
“In those days, the competition [Langa] is organized among youths of different communities. It was learnt that apart from being a game that is serving as a way of exercising one’s body, it was also promoting unity, friendship and oneness among youth of various communities of Hausa land” …However in spite of its significant roles in promoting and projecting Hausa Culture, unity among the youths, Sunday Trust observed that this, culture is currently dying.” [Daily Trust] 2009.
Relating to this statement above, yes, if you view Langa as it was, when it was a celebrity in the moonlight sport era, you would say, it was dying. However, since Langa moved from moonlight sport to “day time sport,” it has gained a lot of positive developments as a sport – under a national sport’s association. This national sport’s associations has 36 other sports associations covering the current 36 states in Nigeria plus, the Federal Capital Territory with her own local traditional Sports Association, these sports associations are supposed to be promoting Langa. If they have been doing that, definitely, Langa cannot be viewed as dying or going to extinction.
That article was published about nine years ago and it is still very relevant as ever. The development or progress that Langa is making in the society in comparison to the time it was in the vogue in the moon, you will agree it has died. But it is now on the national scale. It is undergoing bureaucratic development rather than dynamic, progressive and popular development.
Langa, being a sport under the administration of Traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria (TSFN) is producing three gold medals at the biennial National Sports Festival under three categories – Ruwa, Kawoshi and Tureshi. Under this kind of bureaucratic hegemony, you cannot physically see Langa outside as it was a passion in every night of those good old days of her moonlight booming era.
Langa was one of the sports that were approved by the National Council on Education at its 48th Session to be in the National School Curriculum. Good, but how practically seen has Langa being, since the approval? Is it played once a week, a month, a year, two years or so in the schools? That is the reason, it seems to be dying.
There was a plan to have train-the-trainers for School Sports masters/mistress in the sports [Abula, Ayo, Kokawa and Langa] when approved for the National Curriculum, since 2001, that plan had never seen the light of the day. Maybe the current dispensation will feel alerted; see that program as an abandoned project that needs to be re-visited, in the interest of the society, the sports, education and culture.
Just as stated in the article: “speaking on the dying culture of Langa, Professor Adulkadir Mohammed Dan-Gambo of Nigerian Language Department, Bayero University Kano (BUK) explained that, the dying culture of Langa may not be unconnected with modern civilization brought from the western world… Professor Dan-Gambo noted also that, “Those in the corridors of power did contribute to the dying Langa culture because the attention given to our tradition by the government is not enough to sustain the culture not to talk of developing it in modern ways.” [Sunday Daily Trust] 2009.
This statement above is very true. First and foremost, since electricity arrived Nigeria, especially the local communities, that led to the death of moonlight sports. And for the government to quickly move to adjust to rectify the situation, it was bureaucracy that double crossed where they even remembered or are alerted to correct the issue. In fact some governments would go negative instead of viewing that what were being pointed out where very genuine and relevant. The home sports are not “imported,” so the value is less enhanced just like our home grown rice, despite being fresher, and probably being richer, yet we are farther away from it. As we should eat our own rice, so we must be playing our games and enjoy our own sports.
Secondly, since Langa became a sports under TSFN, the only source of promotion has being to be at the National Sports festival organized only once in two years and the National Sports Festival in Nigeria has just lost two editions back to back [2014 & 2016] and fervently hoping that it will not record a negative hat trick. How would you not agree that Langa was dying when compared with the time when it was a daily supper under the moon? In our schools, how many schools are actually having competitions on Langa today?
The question is “Is Langa dying or not” Langa is not dying, but it is no longer alive as it was when it was under the moon. However if Langa and our other Traditional Sports have been handled as they ought to be, they should be alive, and booming with life through practical local competitions and championships.
So, it is good to thank Daily Trust. That write-up has given all concerned “ALERT”, that Langa and our other Traditional Sports in Nigeria are under comatose due to many negative influences. All the same, Langa and our other Traditional Sports are slowly recovering from extinction saga as they are at least mentioned in the school curriculum and put in the National Sports Festival once in two years as they have no national championships sponsors through government, private or corporate bodies.
Despite the daunting challenges of Langa as expressed in “Langa: A culture going extinct”, Langa’s situation has been much better than that of the African Billiards, which is supposed to be one of the approved sports of National Sports Festival and Traditional Sport being catered for by Traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria. Since that 1994 festival of Traditional Sports organized by NATS (before NATS transformed to TSFN in 2002), African Billiards still remained in “relegation” since some people conspired against it and excluded it from being among the sports that should had participated in that 1994 festival. It would have been one of the scoring sports at the National Sports Festival today. So, being a sport with capacity of producing three gold medals at the NSF, Langa has escaped relegation and it is already a sport, recovering slowly from extinction. There is hope for better tomorrow for all our Traditional Sports. We just have to take heart and keep on struggling. No retreat, no surrender. Daily Trust, please give us more articles that will liberate and promote our Traditional Sports to stardom.
SOLUTIONS 😦 1) Mind set to promote, patronize and propagate our own indigenous sports in Africa.
(2) Government(s) to take this as a necessity and not just a pleasure and the people to take this up as a challenge to save their culture and propagate their sports.
(3) African Union to follow example of what European Union has done and she’s doing to Europe’s Traditional sports through European Traditional Sports and Games Association (ETSGA).
(4) If consulted, Afrotradosports will give more.
Thank you sir.
Mallam Elias Yusuf