At the beginning of every new year of the Gregorian calendar, the tradition of wishing ourselves “Happy New Year” is a permanent tradition in our own society in Nigeria, here in Africa. It is spontaneous, automatic, pandemic and even somehow mandatory to wish all your people “happy new year” especially on the first day of the year and up to the end of the first month of the new year.


Closely related to this, is making new year resolutions i.e you resolve on your own volition, that you would do or not do certain things in the new year as a means of correcting the past misdeeds, misdeminous, failures, or even mistakes of the just out gone year or that of several years as the case may be.


The Gregorian year which we have just entered into, is  2020. This figure connotes, that the year is the beginning of a new decade. And “decades” have become working “tools” in planning and executing plans in this modern era. It is a very popular periodic benchmark of measuring progress of plans over the years. 


Probably, the most popular beginning of a new decade was the year 2000 which was also the beginning of a new millennium followed by 2010 and this 2020 year.


So for this, is now going for a prayerful wish and resolution for African Indigenous Traditional Sports and Games by saying MAY AFRICAN TRADITIONAL SPORTS AND GAMES RECORD WONDERFUL BREAK THROUGHS IN THIS 2020 – 2030 DECADE, amen. Yes, now we have put God first and I know it is not that we have prayed, then the task we now do itself. No, far from it. The prayer is like our theme; our vision and our mission towards achieving this goal for this new decade as embedded in our prayer. 


We started the process of promoting African Traditional Sports, running to over three decades now. In the year 2000, Nigeria participated in the 3rd World Festival of Traditional Sports organized by TAFISA in Hannover Germany. Nigeria’s delegation was from Sport for All Nigeria, an affiliate of Nigeria Olympic Committee that relates to the International Olympic Committee. The team was made up of eleven members who presented Nigerian dances at the festivals. A few other African countries that participated did not present anything spectacular or as distinct as Nigeria’s presentation. Nigeria would had participated at the second World Festival of Traditional Sports hosted by Thailand in Bankcock in 1996 but for lack of sponsors as Sport for All Nigeria gave the opportunity to Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports (NATS) to handle, but NATS could not secure sponsors for the trip. In the 1990s. Traditional Sports in Nigeria were promoted by three different distinct groups without disturbing each other. They were:


  1. The Federal Ministry of Education which organized the first National Seminar on Traditional Sports in Nigeria with the theme: Popularising Nigerian Indigenous Games in Nigerian Schools (1993) and National Committee Workshop setting and harmonizing Rules and Regulations to guide the teaching and playing of Traditional Sports in all Educational Institutions in Nigeria. Then the National Council on Education (NCE), approved Traditional Sports for the National School Curriculum (2001) in Nigeria.  


  1. The Sport for All Nigeria (SFAN) group which secured three International Olympic Committee patronages for different Traditional Sports events in Nigeria. 
  1. Abula Ball Game in 1994 
  2. National Traditional Sports Festival (1998)  
  3. Trado/Cultural Sports Carnival, (2003) and


SFAN also attended the 3rd World Festival of Traditional Sports which dovetailed into Expo 2000 in Hannover Germany, then the 4th and 5th editions in Busan, Korea (2008) and Siaullai, Lithuania (2012).


  1. The Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports (NATS) which was inaugurated as a National Sports Association (on Traditional Sports) by the National Sports Commission in Nigeria (1993), organized the first National Traditional Sports and Games Festival in Nigeria in 1994. When it later transformed to Traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria (TSFN) in 2002, she became the first Sports Federation in Africa to demonstrate Africa Indigenous Sports at the All Africa Games since the inception of the All Africa Games in Congo in 1965. The demonstration of African Traditional Sports at the 8th All African Games in Abuja 2003 had this evolutionary slogan: All Africa Games is not complete without African Indigenous Sports. 


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The Traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria (TSFN) presented Abula Game, Ayo, Dambe and Kokawa to COJA for the demonstration. However, a para game which was also invented in Nigeria had to be added, so the sports actually demonstrated were: Ayo, Dambe, Kokawa and Para Soccer. That made Nigeria to be the first country to demonstrate Africa Indigenous Sports at the All Africa Games. Nigeria equally seized the opportunity to organize a continental conference at the 8th All Africa Games for the Formation of Confederation of African Indigenous Sports (CONAIS) but some intrigues did not allow the confederation to function. 


The demonstration done in 2003 supposed to have been followed up at Algiers 2007, alas! it was not. However, there was another demonstration of African Traditional Sports at the All Africa Games in Congo. The two sports demonstrated were Nzango and Pharaoh Boxing by Congo and Egypt respectively (2015).


Alas! again, at Morocco (2019) no African Sports participated at the African Games. Alas! none was demonstrated anew and none of those earlier demonstrated featured. That’s the disjointed promotion of African Traditional Sports at the All Africa Games. Should it continue like that?  


However, there have been some regional championships or invitational championships in which some countries have become very popular for. Foremost is the Dakar Wrestlings, EKOWAS Games, Niamey, Garbon Wrestlings. Other parts of Africa have their isolated championships in the last three decades in trying to promote African Traditional Indigenous Sports and Games locally.   


Between 2001 – 2005, there was a serious articulate preparation to host first African Festival of Traditional Sports in Lagos Nigeria. This did not pull through too. There were practicing of our African Indigenous Sports in isolated, unrefined and not the desired level of inspirational celebrations in the countries that have them to the expectations of this modern era.


In this new decade of 2020 – 2030, these are some of the main problems to tackle on and to resolve in favour of African Traditional indigenous Sports.


Some of the Main Problems of African Traditional Indigenous Sports and Games:

  1. Not being  in the Olympic Games
  2. Not being in the Commonwealth Games 
  3. Not being in All Africa Games   
  4. Not being organized as a World Cup e.g Abula World Cup, African Billiards World Cup, Ayo World Cup, Langa World Cup, Nzango World Cup, Pharaoh Boxing World Cup etc. 
  5. Not in many National Sports Festivals in the individual countries 
  6. Not being played in the schools of their countries of origin 
  7. Not in the national school curriculum of the Education Systems of the African Countries 
  8. The universities do not show interest in them at all (no experts)
  9. No facilities for them in their countries of origin
  10. They have been suffering from perdition since the advent of slave trade, colonialism, neocolonialism and now at the verge of extinction and in fact, some have probably gone on extinction against the value enunciated by UNESCO tagged “Verona declaration of promotion of Traditional Sports in schools” (2015).
  11. Being ignored by Governments 
  12. Being rejected because of crude/poor presentation as in the binocular of neocolonialism 
  13. Being sidelined by power of foreign sports through colonialists
  14. Not very accessible to the youths 
  15. Electricity has electrocuted those of them done under the moonlight.
  16. Lack of written materials on African Traditional Sports
  17. Written History of African Traditional Sports, no encyclopedia on them as on Western Sports
  18. Since universities are not involved, no modern researches on them.
  19. Hardly used in African films
  20. No teachers, that will teach children on Traditional Sports
  21. Specialized coaches that will train athletes 
  22. Training of coaches i.e train the trainers.
  23. Making the sports attractive with money in it. 
  24. Waiting indefinitely etc.


What is Africa waiting for in promoting her African Traditional Sports? May be 

  1. Foreign investors
  2. Foreign sponsors 
  3. Foreign rules and regulations 
  4. Foreign motivators 
  5. Foreign instructors 
  6. Foreign equipment 
  7. Foreign facilities 
  8. Foreign coaches 
  9. Foreign Technical Advisers
  10. Foreign Designers
  11. Foreign Media etc.


Waiting! is Africa actually waiting?

No, Africa is virtually starting to wake up from a deep slumber on African Traditional Sports. The mindset of our current elite leaders in Africa has started  transiting from neocolonialism of only eagering to collect medals from flagship sports championships into contributing medals in the new Africa initiatives. “Henceforth, equal energy would be spent on the development of our traditional sports and the alien sports” (Chief Alex Akinyele, 1993). As we collect medals, so also we should contribute medals. That should be the spirit and goal of 2020-2030 decade. So in this new decade, Africa should now work to produce gold medals as well as to collect gold medals. It should be symbiotic.      


May be, it is not too wrong to postulate that Africa needs to develop her traditional indigenous sports and games so that she will develop very well like the other continents of the world. 


It should be noted that for the past three to four decades when attention started on waking up African traditional sports and Games, a good number of the sports that gained some attention are just crawling. They are yet to stand up and walk not to talk of running or flying. For the sports to rise up and fly, deafening campaigns and very deliberate and determined efforts on the paths of the leaders in Africa to effect such efforts that will ensure terrific progress for African Traditional Indigenous Sports through flagship projects and championships in this 2020 – 2030 decade should be put in place now. 


May African Traditional Sports and Games record wonderful breakthroughs in this 2020 – 2030 decade, amen. 


Happy New Year,

Better New Decade 


For all of us and,

Our Traditional 

Sports and Games 


Mallam Elias Yusuf 




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By the records of WIKIPEDIA, from Independence in 1960, till this December 2019, Nigeria has produced over 40 Ministers of Education including Ministers of State, Education.


In the same vain, Nigeria should have probably produced about the same number of Ministers of Sports (Youth and Sports) including National Sports Commission Chairmen or Sole Administrator(s) of the National Sports Commission (from 1960 – 2019).


By the discovery of, six friendly personalities have been identified  to be AFROTRADOSPORTS FRIENDLY among the lot that were supposed to have held sway in these three-in-one platform of being Ministry of Sports, National Sports Commission and Ministry of Education in Nigeria. In fact, it was also further discovered that the three groups produced two representative each to cover the three of them. There were two from National Sports Commission, two from Ministry of Sports and two from the Ministry of Education.


From afrotradosports perspective, that is the six, that merited this list. However, anybody or group can select their own six or more or even none from this six. To us in afrotradosports, these six are the ones. We will give you the narrative that crown them with the accolade of TRADITIONAL SPORTS FRIENDLY MINISTERS IN NIGERIA. 


In a paper title: AN OVERVIEW OF MODERN DEVELOPMENTS OF TECHNICAL GROWTH OF NIGERIAN TRADITIONAL SPORTS by Mallam Elias Yusuf on 26th November, 2012 at the Traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria (TSFN) coaching clinic  which held at the National Stadium Surulere, Lagos in preparation for EKO 2012, the 18th National Sports Festival in Nigeria, a build up  for the formation of National Sport’s Association for our Traditional sports in Nigeria was given as follows:



To really promote our Traditional Sports in the real perspective, a sport association had to be formed. Formation of Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports (NATS) was really very dramatic and intriguing.

In 1990, a book titled “Abula and African Billiards was written by Mallam Elias Yusuf, the inventor of the Abula Game. The Abula game itself was invented in 1984 and the African Billiards in 1988.  


In 1992, Mallam Yusuf made a video tape on Abula and African Billiards. As Mallam Elias Yusuf and Mr. S.A Daudu had been in the same school complex at Idi-Araba High School, Mushin, Lagos State, they came up with a decision to present the video tape on Abula and African Billiards to the “Force House” which was the popular name given to the building, housing the then National Sports Commission near Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos.


The duo of Mallam Elias Yusuf and Mr. S.A Daudu presented this tape on Abula and African Billiards to the Chairman of the National sports Commission through Dr. Amos Adamu the then Assistant Director of Sports in Nigeria in the company of Dr. Dongoyaro. That was the final push that brought about the formation of Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports in 1993.


Langa had been demonstrated … at Kaduna National Sports Festival, it did not muster enough force to lead to the formation of Traditional Sports Association in Nigeria because it was to form an association on its own. However, as well articulate rules and regulations were put in place in Abula and African Billiards, this accelerated the formation of Traditional Sports Association in Nigeria under the aegis of NIGERIA ASSOCIATION OF TRADITIONAL SPORTS (NATS) under the Chairmanship of Dr. Alh. G.N Hamza in 1993, the 1st NATS Chairman.  


Haven given you fairly detailed preamble that led to the formation of traditional Sports Association in Nigeria, here is the inauguration by Chief Alex Akinyele, live and direct with this historic speech:











I am delighted to be with everyone of you here today for yet another Inauguration Ceremony. This time, it is for the Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports which had been on the drawing board for quite sometimes now.


We are all aware that traditional sports as acrobatics, Ayo, Canoeing, Horse racing, Boxing, Wrestling, Arrow-shooting, Swimming etc. are ways of life in Nigeria. They are what we do as ways of fending for ourselves through occupations like fishing, hunting, farming and transporting. 


These traditional sports are also used as past time events even though their places in cultural rites, rituals and initiation ceremonies cannot be over-emphasied. Paramount among these sports are wrestling and boxing which were widely known among all the tribes in Nigeria before the advent of the Colonial Masters. We can recall that to the Hausas,


 Wrestling is known as “KOKAWA” …. as it is “NGBA” to the IBOS and the YORUBAS as “IJAKADI”.


We have woken up from slumbers today when the realization of annihilating these traditional sports stared us on our bare faces. Other world communities have registered their existence on earth with the international recognition accorded to their traditional sports. We can mention few of these sports among many of them. They are JUDO, KARATE, KONFU, TAEKWONDO, ROWING, ARCHERY, SHOOTING and so on and so forth.


In the same vain, we are inaugurating a body that will establish our traditional sports as other countries have done. For years, we have spent millions of naira on the development and practice of sports alien to Nigeria at the expense of our traditional sports. That was pardonable because of our colonial past when everything European was seen as better and no conscious effort was made to harness and develop our traditional sports. Henceforth, equal energy would be spent on the development of our traditional sports and the alien sports. 



    1. Identify and document traditional and invented games;
    2. Document rules and regulations of all traditional and invented games
    3. Modernize rules and regulations of traditional and invented games. 
    4. Formulate rules and regulations for the playing of traditional sports where necessary. 
    5. Organize exhibition of traditional and invented games. To benefit from the experience of the public 
    6. Organize exhibition of traditional and invented games


  • Demonstrate traditional and invented at the national sports festival.


  1. Export traditional and invented games to other countries in order to improve Nigeria’s image abroad and earn foreign exchange through companionships and personnel training for other countries.
  2. Train traditional and invented games referees and other technical officials.
  3. Draw up the calendar of activities for the games. 
  4. Seek sponsorship of the games within Nigeria.
  5. Undertake any other business with respect to the development of the games. 



  1. Alhaji (Dr.) Hamza – Chairman 
  2. The Seven (7) Zonal Co-ordinators Member
  3. Mr. Mike Okpala (Power Mike) Member
  4. A representative each from SDD and PR&S Member
  5. Dr. T.O Adewoye (Ayo Guru) Member
  6.  Mr. Audu Bako (Great Traditional Sport Enthusiast)- Sport Member
  7. Mr. D. Omoifo Ejiy (Marksbal Inventor) Member
  8. Mr. Kayode Ojobi (Trainscore Inventor) Member
  9. Mr. L.O Oke (Ringball Inventor) Member
  10. Sports Development To Provide Secretary 


(And the first Sec. Gen. of the Sports Association was Mr. Peter Abiche)


After the delivery of this speech by the Chief, what would have happened? Definitely, the Chief being a crowd puller, the towering figure of the Chief, the broad smile on his face, the loud and clear voice, the commanding tone, all the gesticulations and paraphernalia of a cultural man, who was a public relation outstanding personality, ditching out an historic speech, please what would have happened?


I was not there but I guess it would be an automatic thunderous applause. And the MC of the occasion would go further and say “Another round of applause”. I know, if I were there, I would have automatically stood up because of my belief in what the chief had just done and , accomplished, I would begin to clap and some other people would automatically stand up to join me and the whole hall would join to give a STANDING OVATION, especially to a man who defeated the PERDITION that had been visited on African Traditional Sports over the years spanning the age of slave trade, colonialism and neocolonialism. Definitely, I am aware that the Chief was the JAGUNMOLU of Ipetu ijesha, I could see that afrotradosport also sees him as JAGUNMOLU of African Traditional Sports apart from being a FRIENDLY MINISTER OF AFRICAN TRADITIONAL SPORTS. It should be very clear that anybody who headed the Commission as Executive Chairman or Sole Administrator is the Minister of Sports for that period he was there on sports matters in Nigeria. In fact, sometime, a Minister would be formerly pronounced as minister and Chairman of the National Sports Commission. I know that the Chief was formerly a Minister of Information of this Federal Republic of Nigeria.   


I was so fascinated by the Chief’s achievement on this our traditional sports that when I became the President of Traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria (2001 – 2005) I payed him a visit in his private outfit in Surulere area in Lagos. I went in company of my very close colleague, Mr. Samuel Ajayi Daudu. With a wonderful warm reception, he gave us a pleasant surprise. He just called somebody to bring Ayo board and called for a match. Oh! What a way of entertaining a visitor. Certainly the Chief was a good player of Ayo Game, especially the Yoruba version of the Ayo Game. He showed that he was not just theoretical in promoting our Traditional Sports, he was practical in playing our Traditional Sports of which Ayo is a great example and representative.(privately worldwide)


As Ambassador of African Traditional Sports, I wish to pay this tribute to the Chief on behalf of Traditional Sports Coaches, Athletes, Technical Officials and Administrators in Africa, that providence will make Ayo game available to you for your enjoyment in heaven if that condition applies there. Your historic seed, on African Traditional Indigenous Sports will yield dividends to the extend of playing African Indigenous Sports at the Olympic Games very soon. 


Chief, maje okun, maje ekolo, ohun tiwon ban je lajule orun ni kio ba won yotomi re. 


Adieu Chief, Paradise is your new abode.


Mallam Elias Yusuf 



  1. To write about TRADITIONAL SPORTS FRIENDLY MINISTERS have been in the pipeline for long, but when I read many write-ups about the Chief after his demise I noted that nothing was mentioned about what afrotradosports considers as one of his historic contributions and achievements, hence this part 1 of TRADITIONAL SPORTS FRIENDLY MINISTERS is fully devoted to the Chief. 

2. I hope the MOC and LOC of EDO 2020 will use the speech of Chief Alex Akinyele in totality to make all sports in TSFN rule book to be scoring at EDO 2020. It is possible, “the labour of our heroes past, shall never be in vain.”







– By Elias Foluso Yusuf.

{Culled from THE CHALLENGE, LAGOS STATE ANCOPSS (All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools) Bulletin Vol. 7 Nov. 2014}


According to the Nigeria National School Curriculum on Physical Education for Junior Secondary Schools in Nigeria, published by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC 2007), Abula is now listed as one of the subject matters to be taught in all Junior Secondary Schools in Nigeria.

Before Abula got to this lofty height, it went through divers’ forms of scrutiny at seminars, competitions, presentations and others.

Going through the memory lane, Abula was invented and first fully and successfully played on 8th February, 1984 at Idi-Araba High School, Mushin, Lagos State, Nigeria. It was invented by Mr. Elias Foluso Yusuf, the then sports master of the Idi-Araba High School.

In 1993, the National Sports Commission inaugurated Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports (NATS) and Abula became automatic member sport of the association.

The First National Coaching Clinic on Abula Game was conducted by the Abula Association of Nigeria which later transformed to Abula Federation of Nigeria under the leadership of late Alhaji A.B. Fashola and Mr. G. A. T. Oboh in 1996 as a non-governmental sport organization.

The final ratification for Abula was at a Technical Seminar held during the Joint Consultative Committee on Education (2001) which recommended the game amongst others to the National Council on Education, this gave final approval for the game to be included in the National Curriculum under Prof. Babalola Aborishade, the then Minister of Education. A handbook of Rules and Regulations, guiding playing and teaching of selected Nigerian Traditional Sports, was issued.

In the forward to this Handbook, written by Dr. U. B. Ahmed, he stated as follows:

I am highly delighted to write the forward to this epoch making text on traditional sports in Nigeria.

The choice of Abula, Ayo, Langa and Kokawa amongst the traditional sports in Nigeria is based on many years of experience and involvement of the Resource Persons in teaching and active participation in the sport. I wish to acknowledge the contributions of the Resource Persons, prominent among them is Professor Chado, A. B. U. Zaria, Mr. Elias Foluso Yusuf (originator of Abula and former National Chairman of Traditional Sports), Mrs. Rose Adiole and Alhaji Bako Abdul who worked with the Sport, Physical and Health Education Branch of this Ministry (FME) to modify and standardize the rules and regulations to guide the teaching and playing of the sports.

afrotrad 10222018


This publication will be useful to teachers, institutions and students in the proper mastery of the four traditional sports approved by the National Curriculum on Education for introduction to Primary and Secondary Schools in Nigeria.

Dr. U. B. Ahmed was the Director, Primary and Secondary Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja (2001).

Sequel to the above, Abula is now expected to be in the school syllabus in all the states of the federation. Abula is on page 384; schemes of work published in September, 2009 and page 316 September 2010 in Lagos State.

Apart from this educational sector, Abula has grown tremendously in other sectors of the society e.g. gaining International Olympic Committee Patronage through Sport for All Nigeria and the Nigeria Olympic Committee in 1994; becoming a demonstration Sport at the 10th National Sports Festival, Benue’ 96 and eventually becoming medal scoring event at the National Sports Festival at Imo’98. Since Imo’98, Abula has been producing three gold medals at the biennial National Sports Festivals in Nigeria. So, it was one of the team sports that were competed for in 2011 National Sports Festival, Garden City Games, Port Harcourt, producing medals in Male, Female and Mixed Team categories, (i.e. it is producing three gold medals at the biennial National sports Festivals). It also became a medal scoring event at the 7th Naval Games in 2005 in Abeokuta.

The emancipation of the Abula game is a pride to all of us in the Education sector especially in Lagos, Nigeria and Africa where this game was invented. We should remember that games like Volleyball, Basketball… etc. were invented by individuals and developed in the environment of invention and they have eventually become Global Sports.

So, if Abula is established in every Primary and Secondary School in Lagos State and Nigeria, it will automatically become a Global Sport within a very short time without much hassle. As they say charity begins at home.

In a new effort to propagate the Abula game, a Programme named: SAY YES TO ABULA was proposed at the 27th anniversary of Abula game (February 8 – 1984-2011) to encourage schools in providing the infrastructure of the Abula Game to students of the schools as both study and playing materials.  SAY YES TO ABULA in your school as the National Curriculum of Nigeria has said YES to ABULA.

mallam elias yusuf
Elias Foluso Yusuf, the Inventor of
Abula (game) and former Principal,
Ajeromi-Ifelodun Junior High School,
Olodi-Apapa, Ajegunle, Lagos.




Lagos State (Nigeria) started a championship on Traditional Sports among the Secondary Schools in the state in 2016 and held the second edition in 2018. The sports involved were ABULA, AYO, KOKAWA (Traditional wrestling) and LANGA. There is need to put the infrastructure and equipment of playing the sports in the schools. Other states of the Nigeria Federation should follow this giant stride which is in the right direction in promoting our traditional sports in our schools. Bravo, Lagos State.

As the championship was started by late Mr. Deji Tinubu, let the championship be named after him as: DEJI TINUBU MEMORIAL CHAMPIONSHIP FOR LAGOS STATE SECONDARY SCHOOLS ON TRADITIONAL SPORTS.


As I welcome you to the second half of this write-up, let me ask you a very salient question on Russia 2018.


Yes, what is the number of Russia 2018 on FIFA WORLD CUPS? I am sure so many fans of Russia 2018 might miss the correct answer to this “simple” question.


Well, it is the 21st FIFA WORLD CUP. From Uruguay 1930 to Russia 2018, 21 world cups have been held.

Sports For All Nigeria contingent at Hannover Germany 2000

Remembering that the world cup is held once in four years i.e. in periodic table of Olympiads, as dictated by the Olympic Games. It alternates the Olympic Games. Now, if you missed that “simple” question, rest your mind. Take it easy. It is not fully your fault, it is because of the over flowing popularity of the FIFA WORLD CUP which title is usually entwined or meshed with the name of the host nation(s). And also, when you say world cup, or when you hear Journalists saying “the world cup”, people mostly refer to FIFA WORLD CUP. It is for football only they simply call THE WORLD CUP. When they refer to any other world cup rather than FIFA football (senior) world cup, they prefix it with the name of the sport(s), that you may have e.g.




Association football has been able to register the phrase “The World Cup” in the minds of the people on the globe, billions of them, that with or without official “COPY RIGHT” the phrase “THE WORLD CUP” is FIFA WORLD CUP.


“THE WORLD CUP” seems to have been conceded to Association football. It is already built in the minds of the people just like UNESCO builds peace in the minds of the people.


I want to say, many more people enjoyed watching the world cup, Russia 2018 on their television sets in Nigeria this time around. These was mainly because there was better supply of electricity from the public source much higher than before and free viewing centers were made available by some government apparatus in Nigeria. This and others were great indications that even though we were far away from the theatre of action at Russia 2018, we too also contributed to the huge success of Russia 2018.


Even the dead contributed to the success of Russia 2018. How? Yes, the great inventors, like the inventors of Television, light bulb, ICT, Radio, Automobile, the Airplane etc. contributed to the success of Russia 2018 in their areas of specializations and ingenuities. That is the human heritage and legacies through the history of man. We must appreciate them. So we can translate that in the promotion of our Traditional Sports. That means, we need modernism to boost our Traditional Sports. When poonah, (precursor of Badminton) harpastum, (precursor of footballs), “game played with curved stick” (the precursor of hockey) were exposed to perspective modern touches in England, the sports transformed and translated to become competitive (global) sports, so our African Traditional Sports need such touches and transformation in this modern era so as to gain the impetus/acceleration of becoming (global sports). As at now, none of the sports that originated from Africa is in the Olympic Games, none is a world cup sport, worse still, there is none as a scoring event at the (All) Africa Games. Unlike that, the 2018 Asian Games has the following Sports of Asian Origin, Judo, Kabaddi, Karate, Sepak Takraw, Taekwondo, Martial arts like Wushu, jujitsu etc. as scoring events in this great energy games. Africa must do something to promote her own sports as they say “charity begins at home.” Our sport may be our catalyst for us to make giant strides in developments.


Sound mind in sound body may lead to having sound developments. Afrotradosports observes that Africa has not been gingered to do this, we have been very comfortable as consumers of other peoples’ sports as a result of neo-colonial mentality and our fitness had been tied to our subsistence farming methods that naturally promoted our physical fitness without recourse to prescribed physical fitness exercises. It is time for us to wake up and do something in promoting our own sports in the spirit of “wakie wakie” the mascot of the 8th All Africa Games, ABUJA 2003.


This discourse on World Cups/International Championships has triggered up a nostalgic feelings in me in our own sphere of sport where I had attended a “World Cup”. Yes, a world cup. Your had attended a world cup in Traditional Sports! Yes, for your authentic information, there have been World Cups in Traditional Sports with the brand name “World Festival of Traditional Sports.” The first one was in 1992 in Bonn, Germany organized by TAFISA: Trim and Fitness International Sport for All Associations. The second edition was in Bangkok, Thailand in 1996 and the third edition, in 2000 at Hannover, Germany. This 3rd Edition dovetailed into Expo 2000, in Hannover Germany. This was the edition in which your physically attended “live and direct” through Sport for All Nigeria (through the Nigeria Olympic Committee) and I was in charge of Technical for our contingent.


I will just touch this briefly just as related to the World Cups. Our contingent presented Dance at the Festival. I remember vividly, that after our performance at the opening ceremony, Pr. Dr. Jürgen PALM came to visit our contingent. He humorously used his hand, pointing a finger to mimic how I rhythmically drummed my own part of our beat.


Yes, that is it, when you find yourself in a World Cup, you just have to play your part well, no matter how small or big, then people will appreciate you as small or as big as possible i.e. you will be recognized. Dr. Jürgen PALM was the then President of TAFISA.


THE TAFISA NEWSLETTER 2/2000 captured the essence of the festival as follows: “Noting that the World Festival of Traditional Sports to be celebrated in June 2000 under the auspices of “Trim and Fitness International Sport For All Associations” [TAFISA] and with the patronage of UNESCO, in connection with Hanover world exhibition “Expo 2000” will help to create a worldwide awareness of traditional sports and indigenous games and physical activities, thus making an important contribution to their preservation:

  1. Requests the member states to organize and support festivals of traditional sports and games at both national and regional levels and to provide opportunities for participation in the world festival of Traditional Sports.


  1. Requests CIGEPS, with the help of the relevant regional and national bodies and networks and the support of NGOs, associations and institutions concerned to prepare a worldwide list of traditional games and sports…”


The TAFISA NEWSLETTER 2/2000 excerpts on the 3rd WORLD FESTIVAL OF TRADITIONAL SPORTS 2000, interview with the managing directors of the World Festival 2000 GmbH, Klaus Witte and Horst Westphal, further educate on the festival as follows:


Question: How can this festival counteract the extinction of traditional sports?

Klaus Witte: The enormous response from the visitors in the last two World Festivals of Traditional Sports clearly demonstrated that there is huge interest in these games and sports. This makes us very confident. When we demonstrate the games and sports and invite people to join in, large numbers of people are filled with genuine enthusiasm. We must use the week of this international festival in the year 2000 to revitalize forgotten cultural treasures. And because of the close collaboration with EXPO 2000 Hannover GmbH, we will also be able to show that these games and sports play a vital part in bringing people together and fostering international understanding.

Question: What is the role of the Olympic Games which takes place in Sydney in 2000?

Horst Westphal: We want to show that there are many other different and very interesting types of sport in addition to the competitive sports featured at the Olympic Games. Our festival has the objective of maintaining traditional sports which are particularly endangered in industrial countries. One of the reasons for this is that these countries tend to concentrate on competitive sports.


The Seminar & Symposium of the festival had these slogans: Games of the past-Sports for the future, Globalization, Diversification, Transformation.


Yes, participants came from nooks and crannies of the globe. I hope I have been able to convince those who had not known about this before, that, there is “World Cup” in Traditional Sports and that the 7th edition of it is coming up in Lisbon, Portugal in 2020 as “TAFISA WORLD SPORT FOR ALL GAMES.” Wow! I am salivating for it. What of you? May be in your own sports! Or our Traditional Sports! 


Well, let us go back to soccer. “Soccer” is more popularly used in Nigeria when you want to buy the boot for playing football. It is “a pair of soccer boots” not “football boot”. However, when talking of football field and not soccer field. It is just like the African Billiards; when you want to play the African Billiards game, you would hear, bring out the African Billiards Board. When you want to set up the seeds for playing it, you would hear, put the “aarin” on their spots. This is because the original name i.e. the native name for the marble seed for playing the game is called “aarin”. So the name “aarin” is still more homely with the local elder players than the name African Billiards, but the generality of the new generation playing the game go with African Billiards. However in soccer, the name football and soccer are used interchangeably from time to time without any of the too sounding inferior or illegal.


By the volume of this write-up, we should now be entering its EXTRA TIME!

Football got to Nigeria during her colonial days under Britain. Today football is the most popular sport in Nigeria. The governing body for football in Nigeria was established in 1945 and named Nigeria Football Association (NFA) now called Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Nigeria has been part of world cup for a while now. The first player to score a goal for Nigeria in the world cup was Rasheed Yekinni and the captain of the team that won Gold Medal for Nigeria in football at the Olympic Games is Nwanko Kanu. Nigeria has won the world cup in the junior category. In fact, she was the first to win the under 17 male category World Cup (1985). Even, she is the current leader in this grade; haven won it five times (1985, 1993, 2007, 2013, and 2015) including a back to back. Great! The captain of our Team, the Super Eagles to Russia 2018 is John Mikel Obi. The player that has scored the largest number of goals for Nigeria in the world cup up to this moment, (August 2018) is Ahmed Musa. In fact his fantastic goal at Russia 2018 where he displaced the goal keeper (falling down) and two defenders defending desperately fell within the best ten goals of Russia 2018. Well done Musa.


Nigeria, Senegal, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt represented Africa at Russia 2018. Unfortunately, no one of these our five representatives went beyond the preliminary stage at Russia 2018. According to, the eight countries that have won THE WORLD CUP so far did so as follows:

  1. Brazil: 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002
  2. Italy: 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006
  3. Germany: 1954, 1974, 1990 2014
  4. Uruguay: 1930, 1950
  5. Argentina:1978, 1986
  6. France: 1998, 2018
  7. England: 1996
  8. Spain: 2010


IN ALLTIME RANKING, Nigeria stood like this (2018) Nigeria was ranked 32 and has played 18 matches won 5, drawn 3 and lost 10 since 1994, 1998, 2002, 2014, 2018 – 5 times


As the world cup was hot-up, the Nigeria House was displaying our culture in Russia. The Nigerian House should at least be displaying or exhibiting Ayo, African Billiards etc. and show the videos of African Traditional Sports at such occasions to spread the information to popularize African Traditional Sports. The Nigerian House planning for Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, should include this idea in their program and the Expo 2020 in Dubai should include this in their exhibition.


Putting everything about RUSSIA 2018 in the right perspective, verily, verily, the 21st World Cup was a theatre of fantastic performances. Tourists were seen on the television to be in great affable spirit, highly hilarious, indicating that they were enjoying hospitality extra-large inside Russia especially at the RED SQUARE. The stadia were full to the brim with spectators oscillating from one pensive mood to another jubilant mood as dictated by the performance of the team they were supporting at each moment. The coaches were absorbing the tension of both failures and successes. The referees were on extra-alert exerted on them by ‘authorities’ conferred on VAR (Video Assistant Referee). The super performing volunteers, especially those who spread the horizontal flags on the fields of play popularly referred to as flag bearers. The flags were spread so flat that you could not see any ruffle or undulation. The flag bearers stood round the flags like pegs as they used the wing-attachment-handles to exert stretch-tension on the flags and made each flag to assume the semblance of a huge trampoline rather than an ordinary flag made of cloth. Certainly, those who made the flags put extra touches and the volunteers who executed this assignment, played a trump.


Then, the final match between France and Croatia summarized the magnificent attainment of Russia 2018 in all ramifications. It was REGAL with all the players, spectators, officials and the V.I.Ps performing their functions at world class level, fantastic celebrations, leaving everybody far and near salivating for more WORLD CUPs.


That there is salivating for the world cup is confirmed with this short drama between an imaginary fan of Afrotradosports and your afrotradosports man.

Fan:                 Mr. Afrotrado, did you see what I saw on the Television?

Afrotrado:      What did you see?

Fan:                 Hah! I saw a very high V.I.P giving a red card to another Very High V.I.P, and the red card was collected as a mark of honor and was spontaneously and humorously displayed with a stance suggestive of “I hold the red card, you know!”

Afrotrado:      Was that so?

Fan:                 Hah, more than that, the V.I.P that gave out the red card brought out another surprise, a jersey, code named ………26.

Afrotrado:      Alright, alright, I have gotten what you are driving at. Really that scenario was one of the major preliminary stages of gunning for THE WORLD CUP, 2026.  Yes, my dear afrotradosports fans, all over the globe, do you now agree with me, that, high or low, people are salivating for the world cup all over the world?


Yes, you can’t beat THE WORLD CUP. Football is already up there. All football should do now, is to show charity/thanksgiving by picking at least one indigenous sport from the five major continents of the world for special support or development. Football should be his brothers’ keeper.

Thank you.

Mallam Elias Yusuf



Happy 58th Independence Anniversary to Nigeria, October 1, (1960 – 2018). You saw our banner in the photograph at Hannover 2000. Fine, that is one of the things that our Traditional Sports can do for Africa (projecting our identity, image, heritage etc.).








In part one of this topic, we narrated Ayo facilities up to 2003 when Ayo debuted as a demonstration sports at the 8th All Africa Games in Abuja, we will now move to ABUJA 2004 which was the 14th National Sports Festival in Nigeria.


At ABUJA 2004, Ayo secured another high class and high sounding arena. Ayo was played at International Conference Center, Abuja. It was a great pride for our local Ayo players and officials to find themselves inside the one and only International Conference Center of which the nearest they ever got to it was viewing President Olusegun Obasanjo presiding over a function there on their television sets. The facilities were also very fascinating that, many Television stations covered our Ayo over and over again. In fact, the Osun State Traditional Sport group organized a mini studio for me as the then President of Traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria for a local program that was aired weekly in Osun state. I was specially recorded so that they would relay it on that their weekly program. Yes, that is the multiplier effects of good facilities and effective leadership.

Modern Ayo Board

At Abuja 2004, not only that we used the excellent facilities well, we also extended our versatility to the Radio House. We went to participate in live-broadcast program inside the Radio Nigeria House, communicating to the world on Traditional Sport to the pleasant surprise of the officials of the Sports Ministry, the general public and the envy of other Sports Federations that were seen to be higher than TSFN on the “pecking order” of the Sports Ministry.


This is the essence of having qualitative, committed and productive leadership in place for a sport federation. Our Secretariat under the then Secretary General of TSFN, Mrs. K.A Adekola was very effective with her assistants like Mr. James Eakyns and others, working harmoniously to get excellent results. Equally, the then chairman of technical Committee Mr. S.A. Daudu, highly experienced and knowledgeable, oversees the technical aspect of the competitions with utmost attention, astute and devotion to ensure honest, accurate results. The technical judges in our five scoring sports (Abula, Ayo, Dambe, Kokowa and Langa) knew that the President together with the Chairman of Technical would not tolerate compromise as many of the matches were video recorded randomly. It must be stated that right facilities will produce right results provided the people at the helm of affairs do the right things. Facilities are basic. Right usage is another thing when the two are properly entwined; they produce excellent results as we had at ABUJA 2004.


The Radio is another separate facility, but we were able to use it to produce a great effect on our Traditional Sports. There are connectivity and convertibility of facilities and their usage to enhance what you use the facilities for. However, the resultant effect of the usage of a facility may depend on the leadership style and the environment.


At Gateway 2006, Ayo was played in a classroom of a secondary school. Normal classroom, concrete floor, normal ceiling, large windows, well ventilated.


Really, the dream Ayo facilities at the level of Nigeria National Sports Festival should be to provide a good sports hall or a good hall, if possible with terrace and divide the hall into three segments; the first segment for the players, a gap between the first and the second segment, the second segment is for the spectators and the third segment is the space for a big screen whereby the live video coverage of the players will be transmitted through projector with cool commentary being ran into it, to carry the spectators along. This will give live and good spectatorship to Ayo. It’s large spectatorship that would attract corporate sponsorship to Ayo. It is conservative to believe that the 0.8m to 1.2m long Ayo board is the only attraction for Ayo. It is much more than that. It is true that the Ayo board is the nucleus of the Ayo equipment; the other parts of the nucleus cannot be neglected or taken for granted. So any State bidding to host the National Sports Festival should take this article very seriously in providing appropriate facilities and equipment for our sports in adequate quantity and quality and in a very accessible location.



At Kada 2008, Kaduna, Ayo was held in a School Hall too as in Edo 2002. It was well ventilated, lit and decent. At PortHarcourt 2011, Ayo was in a medium-sized hall at the Civic Centre, a great facility for sports. It was quite conducive and high sounding centre too. It was designed to be air-conditioned hall. It was well lit. In fact the Ayo venue at Port Harcourt and Eko 2012 were very similar in size and arrangement. They were like identical twin sisters. Ayo was held in one of the decent medium sized hall at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere Lagos, Nigeria.


The scenario described above about “the dream Ayo facilities” was finally and practically experimented by your afrotradosports man Elias Yusuf at Eko 2012 in Lagos Nigeria. It was very successful. However, the arrangement was slightly amended as the medium sized air-conditioned hall with two opposing entries for Ayo was divided into four segments to carry out the competition. First segment was the controlling table for officials controlling the competition (with its own terminal entry door). Officials were located where they could oversee the whole of the hall where the competition was taking place without any hindrance. The second segment was the competitors’ and judges tables and chairs, then there was a small gap before the seats of the spectators were arranged to back the competitors and to face the projector screen in one corner to avoid it interfering with the on-going “playing” but allowing the spectators (and other competitors and officials not competing) to watch the competition going on live. The athletes, their coaches and spectators entered from the opposite door to the official’s door. The dream which your afrotradosports man had been having on the idea over the years, finally materialized and it was very successful. So it is expected that this arrangement will now be followed whenever we have standard championship in Ayo until when a bigger dream on Ayo which is tagged “Afrotradosports Ayo infrastructure” will be made available as Ayo and African Billiards Arenas are basically similar.


It was also observed, that it is very important, essential and of great necessity that we should use very standard, neat and pleasing-to-see Ayo boards for our competitions being videoed. It was very shabby viewing some Ayo boards on the screen. It belittles the championship when watched on the television, seeing shabby ayoboards is annoying, displeasing and producing poor effects on the championship.


Also, the athletes/players must dress well and have a way to indicate adequately, the groups/states they represent. And if double athletes, the two players should wear the same jersey even if it is male and female in mixed doubles.


Also, the officials must show alertness all the time, demonstrating their efficiency and effectiveness in judging the competition when viewed on the screen. They should also wear their official judge’s dress well and each displaying demeanors and dispositions of an incorruptible judge without displaying long-face.


If our sports are to be respected, the way they are projected on the screen is very important to us especially in this age of ICT/Internet usage. Any of our competition can go viral worldwide anytime-anywhere, any day and anytime in the future years too.


As this write up is going to end on a very un-conventional note, because we started with definitions and we are closing it up with another definition, it is just to further entertain you on afrotradosports, if you do not mind. Do you? No never, I believe. It just a play on words. Afrotradosports sees the word “infrastructure” as the “mother” of the word “facilities” so, when things look up well for African Billiards and Ayo, we are dreaming a great infrastructure that will be built specially for African Billiards and Ayo as “African Billiards/Ayo Arena(s).

Thank you.


Mallam Elias Yusuf.     





Welcome back on to AFROTRADOSPORTS after a short break. This is to all our regular readers. I know that some of you are like me. How? What do I mean? I mean that, we are sport lovers. We are not sport bigots. Despite that I have more interest, affinity, attraction, commitment, preference, passion etc. for Traditional Sports, I am a regular visitor to all sports; including motor sports, aquatic, martial and especially Trans World Sports. I must confess, I thoroughly enjoyed THE WORLD CUP or I should say “The World Cups”. Yes, it is not a mistake to talk of the multiple world cups in this June – July – August, 2018 if you followed them as I did. We had four major terrestrial world cups in these three months:

  1. Football (soccer) – Russia 2018 – Moscow, Russia
  2. Rugby Sevens (Male & Female) – San Francisco – U.S.A
  3. Field Hockey (Female) – London, Britain
  4. U 20 Football (Soccer) Female – France, (Paris France)

What really fascinated me about the three sports is that, they resemble each other and their modern heritage is from England. The resemblance of the three sports notwithstanding, they are very different from each other.

Incidentally, soccer/football and rugby football were children of the same parents from England. In fact, I see the two of them as Siamese twin, separated by two schools of thought.

In fact if I may go further and pull the three sports together, by the nature of play, shape of facilities, size of facilities, number of players etc., these three sports – Field Hockey, Rugby football and soccer/football are triplets, yet they are very different from each other with their different destinies on their different fields of play, displaying their individual peculiarities and drawing tremendous and fantastic followership all over the globe.

Historically, soccer/football started as a modern game right from the start in 1863. However it had its “traditional roots” according to, et al. Such related roots include China where a sport with semblance of football back in the 2nd and 3rd B.C. was called Tsu.Chu. Another one was the Japanese root of football with a sport called Kemari. The third root game of football was Episkyros from Greece. Then there was Harpastum from the Romans. The Romans took the “effigy” of Harpastum (so to say) to England where a Midas touch was bestowed on it to transform it to football of various codes/versions such as rugby, American football, Canadian football, rugby league and of course the Association Football which is also called soccer. There were two public schools in England – Rugby and Eton. They became the “two schools of thought” that midwifed the twin sports of Rugby football and soccer football. In 1848, there was a serious gathering at Cambridge School to resolve the serious tussle of finalizing the code/version i.e. the rules that would prevail and govern football as an entity (one single sport).


The 1848 gathering at Cambridge School could not resolve the issue. It lingered on till 1863, when the resolution finally came with “To thy tenths” oh Rugby football and Football Association. The two schools of thought agreed to path ways giving rise to two giant ball sports, Rugby Football and Football Association.

I guessed, there was an imaginary contest in which there was a referee that put the two warring camps into two teams and gave them a tug-of-war rope to pull. When they pulled, they pulled with the same quantity of strength and when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. In their case, it was the rope that cut. The side for the fore limbs of the rope went for the use of hands and the side for the hind limbs of the rope went for the feet and case closed. The Rugby group took to “taking up the ball from the ground and run with it” while the Eton group took to “keeping the ball on the ground, kicking and dribbling with it”. That was just creating fun out of that intricate history of football which took place in London in 1863, the year of birth for both Association football and Rugby football.

Let me digress a bit by giving you my practical experience with these three sports, celebrating World Cups, in this June-July-August, 2018 – Football (Soccer) Rugby football and Field hockey. It goes thus:

I played football (soccer) at a very amateurish level in primary, secondary modern school, teacher training college levels. I was quite good at using both feet to control the ball but a bit more proficient with the right foot with more dexterity. I used to be afraid of the real leather ball of football then. Children of my age were more homely with football, playing with the rubber balls than the real football ball made of leather. That was mainly because the leather football ball was still undergoing a very fundamental evolution “growth” and we players were lacking fundamental tool of playing soccer. The leather ball then had to be tucked-in after the inner tube had been inflated. After being tucked in, it would be laced up. That spot/sector where it was laced up was an enemy spot to our feet, because, we played bare footed. No soccer boots. When you hit the ball, or stopped the ball dead, meeting the leather ball with your naked foot, on the laced-up spot, sometime, you had no choice than your buttocks kissing the ground behind you and you, holding your leg there for a massage.

Definitely, the football leather ball played sixty years ago is not exactly the same as the one used at Russia 2018, due to technology and manufacturers’ zeal to revolutionize the ball.

I played field hockey at my class level as a student of Physical and Health Education at the University of Lagos under Dr. A.A. Adebayo. You use the hockey stick to hit the ball instead of kicking with your foot as in football. You use only the face of the hockey stick to contact the ball. In field hockey, you had penalty corner and penalty stroke and recently we got what they call penalty shoot-outs. In soccer you have one type of penalty taken in a designated spot taken in the same manner. In hockey, the ball is very hard and when the ball hits your shin, your playmates would tell you, “rob-it-in”, but to rob-it-in, you buttocks might have kissed the ground behind you already.

Whenever I watch Rugby, I see some elements of Langa in it, especially Ruwa category of Langa. In Ruwa category of Langa, the ‘king’, Ruwa would want, to escape, so in Rugby, the player holding and running with the ball, always trying to escape with the ball to the end line to score their points. If you have watched Kabbadi (an Asian Sport) you would have noticed there are some elements of Kabbadi in Rugby. These three triplets: games-soccer, hockey and rugby have “penalty Rules” to penalize an opposing side that commits grievous offence(s) at a particular area of the field of play.

Let us look at penalties at the Rowing World Cup (2018), Rules 72 and 84 in Rowing with the use of Yellow and Red cards, spell out the different levels of penalties as:

  1. Reprimand
  2. Relegation
  3. Disqualification
  4. And even, Exclusion from all events.

Using Abula Game as an example of African Traditional Sports, there are two penalty types. TYPE I: Under Traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria (TSFN). RED CARD OFFENCES IN TRADITIONAL SPORT. They include:-

  1. Fighting
  2. Insulting/Intimidating match officials
  3. Throwing of Bat(s) in Abula game
  4. Any violent disturbance
  5. Disruption of play……. Yellow card is to give strong and last warning. Red card is outright punishment. TYPE II: when the two teams, playing a match reach the GAME POINT OF 15-15 simultaneously in Abula Game, a DEUCE is called. A deuce is like a penalty shoot outs. The first team to get to the 20th point wins the set.

So we can see that as many sports that we visit, so are their penalties/penalty rules very unique and very peculiar to each of them. “Penalty” in football is very simple to understand and highly exciting to watch but very intricate for a referee to decide.

That leads us to the latest technology, first used in world cup, Russian 2018. It is called VAR, i.e. Video Assistant Referee. That shows that soccer is a living sport developing and accommodating new technologies and ideas as it is growing and developing through the ages. It must be realized that the use of whistle was introduced sometimes ago. Imagine the time the referee would have operated without the use of whistle! And talking about the use of whistle let me ask you a question. How would you react if your team is playing and the referee officiating the match, on seeing a player against your team falling down with just a very light contact with your team player, inside the vital box, and the referee raises his hand up and opening his palm, displaying a red whistle inadvertently, won’t you miss your breath? Yes, if that is the first time you are seeing that red whistle at that point in time, you are bound to be jittery. Even, it may be life-threatening for a very highly sensitive match to a very hypertensive follower/desperate and passionate fan. May be, manufacturers of whistles should avoid whistles of red color. It can be very scary when you see a red whistle in a tension soaked match. What do you think? Well, let me ask you another question. What makes football to be the most popular sport on earth? To my mind, they include:

  1. The word “GOAL”
  2. Simultaneous availability of cheapest and most expensive facilities among others.
  3. Huge investments on players, clubs, and facilities (infrastructure) i.e. stadia.
  4. Awards for the skillfulness and productivities of very popular players as heroes/heroines
  5. Championships all over the place, especially THE WORLD CUP, UEFA etc.
  6. Improvisation of facilities among school children and children out of school system.
  7. Above all, it has the rules that everybody can interpret with utmost ease and accuracy; hence everybody is a coach/referee.

If care is not taken, the children will improvise football playing field inside their sitting room, worse still, on top of their parents’ bed. Football is the naturally most available game to school children in my own part of the world as at today. Popularity of football was promoted at the initial stage of growth by public schools. That is why our leaders in Africa should promote our Traditional Sports through both public and private schools and should emulate Rev. Martin Luther King Jnr and dream of world cup(s) for African Traditional Sports now. In the very near future, there would be world cups on our African Traditional Sports. We can only achieve that in Africa, if we provide facilities that will make the sports grow and develop in the schools. You cannot promote sports without making the medium of practicing them available.

Well, thank you, we shall meet at the second half of this write up in no distance time.

Mallam Elias Yusuf






Facilities are structures like halls, rooms, buildings, or services that are provided to facilitate the carrying out of a particular event or task. “Facilities”, as a word, when used in sports, may mean a stadium, sports’ arena, sports’ pavilion, and court, like tennis court, abula court, badminton court, traditional wrestling court or Ayo hall. By this definition, facilities usually include equipment. “Facilities” as a word, is usually in plural, while equipment sounds as singular or an uncountable noun because it is never added to suffix “equipment”. However, equipment may be the tools and materials used in carrying out the task at hand or the task to be carried out. Facilities are usually fixed e.g. a football field, a tennis court or an Ayo hall. Each of these is on a particular land, space, spot or location. It is not carried about. Equipment on the other hand may be carried-able, i.e. it can be moved. It is usually movable.



In Ayo, the facilities are the halls or rooms while the equipment is the Ayo Board with the seeds used in playing the game of Ayo. In between are the sitting equipment, such as chairs, tables, then whistle, stop watch and materials like penal cards, score sheets etc., services like photography, videoing and particularly the use of projector which was successfully introduced at Eko 2012 as experimented by Mallam Elias Yusuf to enable spectators and co-competitors to watch the players alive without interfering with the on-going game.


As “HISTORY” a subject that went on extinction in Nigeria before, or being on relegation before the current dispensation, has now been resuscitated and reinstated on the curriculum (by the current administration). It is good to go on the memory lane for our young ones and the new technical people that are handling our affairs in traditional sports at the National Sports Festival as a kind of mentoring for them, to let them know what happened in the past, i.e. updating them so that they would know how to handle the matter more appropriately. They will be able to have knowledge of the past so that they will be able to move from “known” to the (new) unknown with adequate preparations to make things better or smoother and secure more effective and efficient result. That’s the essence of having history as a subject in our school curriculum, and experience people in our group. Now let us go into history of Ayo facilities at the National Sports Festivals in Nigeria.


Ayo became a demonstration event at BENUE’96 through the National Association of Traditional Sports (NATS). Three other Traditional Sports that demonstrated at BENUE’96 under NATS were Abula, Dambe and Langa. That was the beginning of providing facilities for Ayo at the National Sports Festivals.


The facilities provided at Benue’96 were at Police Officers’ Mess, near the Makurdi Stadium. It was not a large facility but it was quite high sounding and decent. Not many members of the public came to watch the game of Ayo demonstrated; but some officials especially those close to Ayo playing in Benue State and those charged with demonstration of Ayo were handy to do the official demonstration of Ayo game. The demonstration also served as an opportunity to lay the foundation for National rules and regulations on Ayo. The National rules on Ayo were fashioned out at Benue’96. There were contradictions in the rules when used at Imo’98, which necessitated the rules being harmonized at the National Coaching Clinic held at the National Stadium (New Gymnasium) Surulere, Lagos in 2000, before Bauchi 2000 where all contradictory rules in Ayo were a thing of the past.



The facilities of Ayo at Imo’98 were make-shift. This was because Imo State was originally planning for Abula only. It was at the pre-festival facilities monitoring meeting that the organizers were made to know that Abula was one of the sports in Traditional Sports Association. The make shift facilities was in canopies arranged beside Abula court at the Dan Ayanwu Stadium, Owerri. It was a functional facility used in bringing Ayo to the level of scoring event at the 11th National Sports Festival tagged IMO’98.


At BAUCHI 2000, Ayo was played in one of the arms of the buildings of the games Village. It was beside the Boxing arena. It was high sounding too but highly disturbed by the turbulent arena of boxers. It was frequently invaded by displeased boxers and the ‘roars’ from the boxing room. In fact the teargas that was detonated at the riotous boxing ring did not differentiate that the next neighbor of the boxing arena were sedentary and cool Ayo players who needed a serene atmosphere for a peak performance. However Ayo was lucky that the number of competitors were not as many as in very recent festivals as they only competed for 3 gold medals as opposed to EDO 2002 where 5 gold medals were competed for in Ayo.


At EDO 2002, Ayo had a very cool arena. In fact, Ayo seemed to be the most favored in getting good facilities, beating Abula to the second position as Abula was played in a half-refurbished Tennis court converted to Abula court for that purpose. Ayo was played in a highly refurbished school hall. It was moderate sounding, very decent and far away from the maddening crowd, but the lightening was inadequate.


Sandwiched between EDO 2002 and ABUJA 2004, national Sports Festivals was the big one, the 8th All Africa Games: ABUJA 2003, where Ayo participated as a demonstration event. It is good and very relevant to mention that Ayo was staged at a very high sounding and practically excellent facilities. It was at NICON NOGA Hilton Hotel. It was not far from boxers but at a higher floor from the boxers. It was fine, quite cool, good lightening, good seats and arrangement. Not many visitors came but valued press men and women from various corners of the world, including Nigeria Press visited the place with some tourists.


We shall continue with the part two of this topic.


Thank you.


Mallam Elias Yusuf





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].

Langa Ruwa


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