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







In the part-one of this topic, there was an averagely extensive discuss on the first stream of our Traditional Sports in Ekiti Land using Ayegbaju-Ekiti as the case study. So I am going to go ahead to discuss the second stream as epitomized by that same society, because that is my niche where I have the clearest view of the issue being deliberated upon in this paper, presented to alert us and especially the incoming Governor of Ekiti State, Nigeria this 2018.


Please I am not very sure of this fact and figure I am going to quote on this matter now, but I think my assertion will not be too far from the real figure. The matter is this, by 1960 when Nigeria got independence from Great Britain, not less than 70% of Ekiti towns and villages were without public electricity supply. If it is better or lesser than that, please forgive me for it, I apologise. However, I know that Ayegbaju-Ekiti had no electricity at that time. So, as a result of that, the people still enjoyed the natural light from the sky in the night time, provided by the MOON. This was more so during the dry season, This takes me to the second stream of our Traditional Sports in Ekiti land, now EKITI STATE. Moonlight Traditional Sports was the second stream of our Traditional Sports. This stream is another large stream in our Traditional Sports in Ekiti.


Traditional Sports in this stream are divided to subheadings; which include:

  1. Moonlight folklores
  2. Sport of low organization
  3. Dancing and then singing ( to spite, criticise and correct)
  4. Mockwar gyration competition sport


The Traditional Sports under this second stream are done in the night. They are totally different from the earlier first stream category done in the evenings.

  1. Moonlight folklores are not sports per se. They particularly replace the moonlight sports when the moon wanes i.e not available. There are times when the moon would be out during the lunar month, the folklores and some sports of low organization would be in action fully together. The folklores are story telling time for the children. They listen to stories from elders and children from other societies who had just arrived in this regular society.
A good number of members of Club De Royal, Ayegbaju-Eliti in a recent post some of them were moonlight play guru in the late fifties (1950s) and early sixties (1960s).



Apart from the folklore stories, there were local quizzes to decipher e.g “opa tere kanle o kan orun” i.e the slim whip stretches from the ground to reach the sky-heaven. What is it?. The answer is simply deciphered as the RAIN. Another one, “my father’s cock, it ever eats money, not maize grain”. The answer is “court”. This is one of the “educating processes” of indoctrinating children to avoid what would take them to court because, once you go to court, you certainly have to spend money. There is no alternative to spending money. There is no alternative to pursue litigation without gulping hard earned money. That is why they say “won ki ti kotu de wa mase ore” i.e you never become best of friends again after court litigation with an individual.



This folklore and quiz aspect of this night program of educational activities that compliment sports is like the classroom teaching of the youths before formal western education arrived our land. They called this process “Aloo apagbe and Aloo apa mo” The two of them were two in one” This aspect was where morals, history and philosophy of the people were indirectly and directly impacted.


The age group that were involved were mostly age of six and twelve or more just as the evening stream. This age group is more or less the primary school age of Western Education System.


  1. The moonlight sports of low organization were many and varied. They are also very peculiar from one village to the other, even from one quarter of same town or so. These sports are both sedentary and mobile. For example the sport named Mudesi. Mudesi is a game designed to teach children “detective ability” and at the same time “how to keep secrete”. In Mudesi, there is a grown up conducting the game. They sing to it. A detective is selected among the participants, he goes away or just stay by when the adult wanted to hide the ‘ide’ i.e an object, a very small object, like the seed of Ayo, cherry or small stone. The person conducting the game will lead with the song of the game. And the participants will answer with the chorus of the song.


Leader:   Mudesi o.                 [I put ‘ide’ in your hand] or [I hide “an object”

in your hand]

Chorus:   A mude mude         {Yes, that is the ide]

Leader:   Gba ko sibe              [Keep it secret there]

Chorus:   A mude mude         [Yes, I hide it well]

Leader:   Di mushin mushin [Hold it very tight]

Chorus:   A mude mude         [Yes I do]

Leader:   Mudesi o etc

After the object had been “berried” inside the fist of one of the participants that may be up to ten or more in number [in an episode], the detective would be called back or now given a go ahead  to fish out the object by only one touch selection..


If the person he chose was not the one holding the object, then his detective ability is poor. He is going to repeat it. If the person holding it is not good in keeping secret and the detective is very smart, he would get it at a go with psychological prowess. Other games in this category are Bojuboju, Gbadigbadi, Ekunmeran  etc.


  1. (a) Dancing: Dancing is mostly used to teach children in Traditional Music and dancing. This one would be done for cultural festivals only. It can also take place in the evenings or any time of the day.


(b) Singing to spite, citicise and correct offenders: In those good old days, there used to be blowing of “Upe” the equivalent of when the “trumpet sounds.” This “upe” was usually blown/sounded to erald series of festivals in the town by a particular clan man in the town. You shouldn’t taste the new yam before it was sounded. These series of festivals usually involved singing of songs composed against individuals that misbehaved with certain misdemeanors such as stealing, sexual scandals, social scandals, spiritual scandals etc


These songs were also accompanied by another tradition of cutting tree branches with fresh leaves called “emuru” to be deposited at the front door of the house of an offender {symbolic seal-off} during the circle of a whole year in the town. This is to dissuade citizens of the town from those misdemeanors. This was part of the Moonlight Sports because it was during the night they composed, practiced the songs and rendered them very early in the morning at dawn. The speed with which the youths paced round the town for this was tantamount to Traditional Sports Marathon done annually in the town. It was rather a complimentary and co-operating sports than competitive sports. Really, you will have a nostalgic feeling if you were youth of the sixties from Ayegbaju-Ekiti going through this narrative.


  1. Mock war gyration: This is the real Moonlight Sports that is physically involved. Both boys and girls are involved. However, girls do their own separately while boys do their own separately. Also, they group up according to age and size. This mock war gyration is done by each quarter/street group together to interlock their arms together, forming a circle and rotating sideways to move towards their perceived enemy to go and lock-horn with the opponents. They sing songs. The girls songs are different from the boys songs. The song for beginning of the play are unique for starting.


The mock war songs are there while there were song for closing up. This is the real sport that trains the youths in physical fitness during moonlight sports.


Now that these sports have or are on the verge of total disappearance, that is the reason why the incoming Governor of Ekiti State should be alerted, so that he will show interest, commitment and passion to save the sports and promote the sports to stardom where possible in preparation for the sports becoming global or Olympic Sports. However, retaining the sports, and protecting them from extinction is more expedient. Te solution is to incorporate the sports into the school system.


One of the papers on TSG, Europe, through TAFISAL RECALL stated of Traditional Sports: “They are not just games” they are part of culture, history, a goal, a people, a purpose, a structure, a philosophy and a strategy.


…During most of TSG we can develop fair play idea and a healthy life style or positive attitude to life [Egan 2003]. Therefore, the incoming Governor of Ekiti State, If he is approachable, the citizens of Ekiti State should be able to:


  1. Think for their leaders
  2. Dream for their leaders
  3. Mentor their leader
  4. Suggest to their leader


So, Afrotradosports suggests as follow:


  1. The Governor to commission documentation of Ekiti State folklores now or they will all go into extinction.
  2. Documentation of Traditional Sports available in Ekiti State to prevent and ensure practicing them in schools in the spirit of Verona declaration on Traditional Sports by UNESCO.
  3. Make facilities and equipment available for Traditional Sports like Abula, Aarin, Ayo, Traditional Wrestling, Langa etc in schools.


Afrotradosports group will be readily available to ensure success on this matter.


Thank you.


Mallam Elias Yusuf



N.B: Afrotradosports greet and welcome the Tourism Program delegates in Abuja, our capital city today. In particular, African Billiards greets you all and wishes you a happy stay in Nigeria and journey mercies back home on behalf of sports Tourism.






Some fifty-five and more years ago, Traditional Sports were a great passion in many towns and villages in Ekiti Land. That time, Traditional Sports were a great source of recreation competition and fitness training.

African Billiards being demonstrated at NATS coaching clinic inside the new gymnasium,National Stadium, Surulere,Lagos ,Nigeria(2000)

However, the people especially the Youths were enjoying them as their Tradition and Culture rather than seeing them as a form of training ground for physical fitness. It was because, the Traditional Sports were done as natural sports tied to the culture and tradition for the Youths of the period. They met these sports in their towns and villages or in this ‘life’ (abalaye).

The Traditional Sports were done in majorly two streams. First stream (sports) are done in the evenings only. These evening stream Traditional Sports were done with playing “objects”. They played the objects or played with the objects. Some of them also have equipment that help children to develop speed, strength, skills, fitness unknowingly.

Then, when we ‘weaved’ basket, with materials from palm front, we also used the palm front material to weave circular ‘wheel’ that we called keke. When the keke was done, we have Y implement also made from the palm front to roll the wheel by placing the Y implement behind the keke like you press pedal to make the “keke” roll and move forward.

That you owned keke was a great advantage to your mother. They supported intintively, because when you were sent on an errand, you would get there and back in a flash. You enjoying rolling your ‘keke’. You will have 100% concentration rolling there and back without side attractions. It automatically taught concentration with a built-in-power of training for strength and fitness in you.

This “keke-yiyi” was prevalent between the ages of 6years and 12 years among the boys. It was boys sports (ostentatiously). It was not for girls, but some exuberant girls burrowed from their brothers to enjoy the rolling. It was not forbidden for them. The other evening Traditional Sports were Ayo, udi (Ijakadi) i.e traditional wrestling, Aarin (African Billiards) Ege, isolege, Ogo (top) Okoto (metal type of top), lakanlaka etc.

Ayo was mainly for adults. However, children play it by digging holes for playing it on the ground as they did not usually get the opportunity to use the disc/board, as adults normally monopolized the boards or it was just part of the culture and tradition to make the children start on a very humble beginning. Often too, they use stones in place of the original Ayo seeds.

Both boys and girls played Ayo. That Ayo is played during the day is given a credence with this proverb: “Tale bale a o f’omo ayo f’ayo” i.e when it is night time, we must leave the children (i.e seeds) of Ayo for Ayo. Nobody played Ayo at night. Ayo is all seasons.


The next Traditional Sport that was popularly played in the evening was Aarin (African Billiards). African Billiards was played mostly during dry season. The seeds are from leguminous plants. There are two types – oblonged shaped and spherical shaped types. The two are used for the playing of the game. The game was for boys and male adults. They play in two groups (teams) facing each other to target each other seeds. Girls played this game too. It was not forbidden for girls to play Aarin in my own society. This game was very interesting. However, this game had almost gone into extinction except that Mallam Elias Yusuf had developed the Aarin to African billiards which is now played on African billiards board of 122cm by 488cm in 1988.

This development has not been well popularized. It is a very great potential that has greatly transformed the Aarin to a very modern game of great beauty and equity. This is a great opportunity for the Ekiti State Government to catch in upon to rejuvenate a sport that was already going unto extinction to a great moving sport (in the spirit of Verona Declaration of UNESCO 2015).

Being that Ekiti is the main home of this sport, Ekiti State or any state from the South West with extension to Edo and Delta States have the cultural heritage to this sport. It is a great opportunity that the sport can be supported to spread all over the place as it is very interesting, very recreational and competitive. It is a target sport like Curling that featured in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, though the manner of targeting is very different and unique. If properly planned, executed and managed, it is a great tourism sports with great root from Ekiti but invented from Lagos State by the man from Ayegbaju – Ekiti, Mallam Elias Yusuf. Ege and Isolege are Traditional Sports of low organization that are mostly played by children, both boys and girls in the evenings during day time. Lakanlaka was a hopping sport. It has been well pursued in the Northern Part of Nigeria as Langa.

Traditional Wrestling, Udi, i.e. ijakadi, has virtually gone into extinction in Ekiti State through elitism. We see other tribes do wrestling, we are no longer in wrestling, but we can easily get back there if the government goes back there. Traditional Wrestling produces five gold medals at the biennial National Sports Festivals in Nigeria.

The Abula Game which also applied to Ekiti State was not originally a Traditional Sports from Ekiti. Infact it is a recently invented game from Lagos State but by an Ekiti man. Apart from that, the game after invention, it was group under Nigeria Association of Traditional Sports (NATS) when the Sports Association was inaugurated in 1993. The game has gained great recognitions from various sectors such as National Sports Commission, Federal Ministry of Education, Nigeria Educational. Research and Development Council [NERDC] Sport for All Nigeria, an affiliate of Nigeria Olympic Committee which secured the first IOC patronage programme in Nigeria for Abula Game in 1994.

Abula Game should interest Ekiti State in three ways:

  • The sport was invented by an indigene of the state – Mallam Elias Yusuf, an indigene of Ayegbaju Ekiti.
  • The Sport is producing three gold medals at the National Sports Festivals.
  • It is one of the sports approved for school curriculum in Nigeria by the 48th Session of National Council on Education and this has been effected on the National School Curriculum by Nigerian Education Research and Development Council (2007). However, infrastructure are needed to be in schools for practical utilization.

We shall be dealing with the second stream of our Traditional Sports in Ekiti LAND in part 2 of this episode of Afrotradosports.

For this stream, most of all the sports featured are good for sports tourism programme. Sports Tourism, in Ekiti State if properly harnessed could become money spinning for the state with a little proper investment as afrotradosports group is ready to partner for growth and development of our Traditional Sports for youth development, employment and economic emancipitation of the state and her peoples.

As Lagos State is aspiring and seriously working to be the hub of Sports in Africa, Ekiti State can synergize to gain in Sports tourism through ideas that Afrotradosports can proffer for the state if the incoming government of Ekiti State will demonstrate genuine interest in this area of thought. More than this, Ekiti state would be contributing immensely to the emancipation of African Traditional that will debut one day in the Olympic Games. The promotion of our Traditional Sports in our schools is a way of contributing to the local content development of our society.

It is a form of training for local employment for our Youths. Many Abula players trained through their Secondary Education in Lagos State are now coaches in Abula Game in many states of the Federation while a good number of them have also become Technical Officials in Traditional Sports in Nigeria.

Afrotradosports sees it as a psychological pain, that out of the five major continents of the world, Africa is the only continent that cannot physically point to a sport that originated from her domain that is played at the Olympic Games.

Thank you.

Mallam Elias Yusuf






The fierce nature of Dambe is tied seriously to the fist. Yes it is the ruggedness of the fist that made Dambe to be really rugged.


Before Dambe got to be included in the National Sports Festival, the fist was sinisterly fixed and wickedly prepared. Some fighters we were told, usually used starch to gum the bandage/cloth with fine grinded broken bottle in order to be able to deliver devastating blows on the opponent. The fist would be so hard and rugged. However, since the advent of Nigeria Association of Traditional Sports in 1993, all that started to change.



The fist started to be prepared with crepe bandage. The binding of the fist has to be done openly and only with crepe bandage that has not gotten any other inimical treatment before usage. The wrapping of the fist under traditional sports rule, has to be done openly with the two fighters standing side by side while the binding goes on from the two of them. This was done to build confidence of the two fighters. The two of them would see each other’s fist from basic preparation stage and to the finished point. The binding of the fists of the two fighters are done in the presence of technical officials in order to ascertain that the basic rules in wrapping the fist are obeyed to the letter. All these are done to ensure safety and equity in the sport.


Next step taken by the Traditional Sports Federation was in the weight categories. In the past, the weight categories among the Dambe fighters were not done empirically. Because people believe in extra-ordinary powers. Some did not respect the empirical weight. In fact, at Imo’98 when the heavy weight category became problematic in getting validity as regards the rules and regulation, some of the officials from the states boasted and insisted that they were going to give us a ‘Small boy” that will summarily deal with the “So called” heavy-weights” within a twinkle of an eye. This was because some of the old practitioners of Dambe did not really observed strictly the weight category rules of the sport. They believed in magic-more than the personal competence of the Dambe player himself.


At Imo’98 there were only three weight categories:-

Junior weight category: 55-65kg

Intermediate: 70-80kg

Senior: 85kg and above

At Edo 2002, the categories were divided into five. Viz

  • 45 – 55kg
  • 56 – 65kg
  • 66-75kg
  • 76-85kg
  • 86-100kg


The five weight categories are designed to reduce weight disparity among fighters in order to further promote equity in playing Dambe. But certain negative individuals went wide against TSFN administration, that TSFN had destroyed Dambe by creating more weight categories.


Fortunately the Authorities in charge were no illiterates in the matter. That negative move was summarily disposed off, as the Technical Department of TSFN was very able to defend the action. Despite the mischief in the motive of the individuals, NATS simply looked at it in parlance of as Tradition die hard and considered the negative individuals as one of the core conservative people who abhorred initiating new ideas in our Traditional Sports. That is the crux of the matter that takes us to the next level of this discuss, that is, that Dambe has been undergoing serious reforms over the last twenty years recalling that Dambe was demonstrated at Benue’96. And scored 5 gold medals at Gateway 2006.


It is just a pity that Dambe attracted a lot of ‘temper’ instead of tempo at Gateway 2006. I cannot say much about the administration of Dambe at Gateway 2006. At Bauchi 2000, I gave very close monitoring to Dambe. In fact I was more frequent at Dambe’s arena than any of the other four Traditional Sports (Abula, Ayo, Kokawa and Langa). It was because I recognized that situations in Dambe arena were more volatile than any of the other four.


The same thing happened at Edo 2002 and Abuja 2004. Dambe officiating needs very close monitoring for one reason or the other. I remember vividly that at Bauchi 2000, Dr. Amos Adamu spent about two hours with us at the ring side of Dambe. (I was the then Chairman Technical Committee of NATS). He was asking me various questions on all the various aspects of Dambe. You will recall that he was the then Director of Sports Development in Nigeria. I can also recall vividly that Alhaji Sanni Toro, the then Commissioner for Sports, in Bauchi State, was highly elated being with me at the ring side of Dambe at Abuja 2004. Also at Edo 2002, the Commissioner for Sports in Borno State was very proud of the way we handled Dambe. I recall all the aforementioned personalities and situations  to show our readers that Dambe is never short of attentions of the people that really matter and relevant in sports development in Nigeria.

The main problem with Dambe is that we have to make haste slowly otherwise, administrators in Dambe will be labelled by some “conservatives” that you have destroyed the “traditional flavour in Dambe”. As we are trying to retain the flavour, we are introducing measures that will eventually evolutionalise Dambe to the expectation of modern era and ensuring safety dictates of the modern western civilization. It will be a nasty mistake to use the western dictates to adjudicate Dambe as at today, but we can, and should use them to refine Dambe for tomorrow. And it must be a very quick evolutionary pace .


We have made a lot of progress in improving Dambe. Apart from the general rules which are in written form as I had said earlier on, infrastructures are also improved to ensure safety in Dambe fighting. The Dambe circle is protected by its size as it allows a skillful and agile Dambe player to free himself easily from punches of the opponent. A good fighter is never trapped in any corner as there is no corner where a player could be trapped in Dambe.


There are also some standing orders that protect life of a Dambe player. e.g

  • Stopping of the match if there is any deep cut/profuse bleeding
  • If a Dambe fighter surrenders
  • If a Dambe fighter falls down that is the end of the match. Falling down includes the tip of the finger touching the ground when a blow has been unleashed. He may fall down as a result of exhaustion. Yes, I have seen that happen.


In Dambe, once you are down, you are out. This is very important in safing life and safing players from unnecessary punishment; both from himself and the opponent.


There is a convention in Dambe that once a player scores thirty points, (good punches) he has automatically won that match. It is a convention and not a rule. This convention is to prevent those that can really endure punches from unnecessary punishment.




The coach of the player can throw in the towel. This is a western value that has been imbibed by Dambe. This also helps to safe life and Dambe fighters from unnecessary punishment, injury and internal damage.


Finally the use of glove guard has been approved for the use of Dambe fighters. That has satisfied the apprehensions of those elites that see Dambe as a saga.


Now that I have given you the pros and cons of Dambe being a saga or sagacity like a typical debater representing a typical Secondary School in Nigeria, “that I hope I have been able to convince you, that Dambe is not a saga but a sagacity”, thank you, it is an entertainment from Afrotradosports.


For more on technicalities of Dambe, visit Dambe (unit).



Mallam Elias Yusuf







In a Multimedia Publication made on August 5th 2016, which had been earlier made originally on June 27, 2012, the Asia Society (a great group) declared and listed 10 Asian Sports that would spice up the Olympics through the Asia Society Blog.

Before I give you the ten sports (as she described the sports) the Asia Society said that: Asia Society takes no institutional position on policy issues and has no affiliation with any government.

That: All views expressed on their publications and on their website are the sole responsibility of the author or authors.

To my readers, I am sure we are very aware that Asia is a very large continent housing the countries with the largest population in the world. Such countries like China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, the Koreas etc. So, when there is a society called Asia Society, that society is much more than a MEGA NGO. So when they say something i.e make a statement, it is not a paper weight statement even though it is not from an institutional source.

Afrotradosports will try to summarise the statement as much as possible to disseminate the information further to our readers on afrotradosports worldwide. Here we go:

“Herewith, as a public service, Asia Blog nominates 10 sports from Asia for the IOC’s consideration.

Bo Taoshi

…bo taoshi (literal translation: knocking-pole over) developed as an expression of rebellious energy aimed at toppling the Meiji Oligarchy

…Two teams are split into offensive and defensive groups, and two poles are placed at two ends of a large field. The attackers and defenders then scrum for control of the pole. Victory is attained when the attacking team brings down the pole to 30 degrees (relative to the ground). Shirts optional, no shoes allowed.


…Wrestling is the most important of Mongolia’s historic “three manly skills” (the other two being horsemanship and archery). Genghis Khan considered wrestling an important way to stay in good physical shape for combat. There are no weight divisions in Mongolia’s sports festivals, called Naadam, so a small wrestler can be matched up with an opponent twice his weight.


…Played in Central Asia, Buzkashi features men on horseback tussling over a headless goat carcass. The objective is to drop off the carcass in designated score zones. The horses are trained to bite opponents. Bloodshed and injuries often result from horses falling or biting during the game.

Da Tuoluo

…Tuoluo are wooden tops of unspecified girths ranging anywhere from the size of a small dreidel to the behemoth 220lbs “peg”. Tuoluo are enjoyed by children and adults alike and the main objective is to keep the top spinning for as long as possible. Sometimes teams of people take turns whipping one tuoluo and other times spinners whir their tops at their opponents to try to knock their tops off their axes.



…Played on a rectangular court with seven players on the ground for each side, kabaddi involves holding your breath, chanting the word kabaddi repeatedly and scoring points by entering the opponents’ court and touching as many defense players as possible without exhaling.

The kabaddi chant varies from place to place. In India and Pakistan it’s kabaddi, in Bangladesh it’s hadudu. In Nepal they call it do-do; in Sri Lanka it’s guddu and in Malaysia it’s chado-guddu.


Ladies, signing up for pole dancing classes at your local gym? You might want to take some pointers from this sport. In mallakhamb or pole gymnastics, a gymnast holds onto a wooden pole or vertical rope and performs acrobatic feats and poses in fluid motion.

…The sport has been embraced by visually impaired people in India. Because it’s about feeling, balance and strength, a blind athlete can perform as well as someone with perfect eyesight.


…Once every six years, 200-year old Japanese fir trees are felled with specially-made axes and adzes. The logs are dragged on ropes down the hill to the four shrines of Suwa Taisha. Loggers slide down exceptionally steep slopes atop the logs, egged on by spectators, despite the potential for injury and death. At the base of the slope, these logs are stood upright as Tate Onbashira (upright pole), with some of the riders still on top.

…Onbashira was featured in the 1998 Nagano Olympics opening ceremony and it attracted 1.78 million people, 4.5 times Nagano’s then-population of about 387,900 people.


Pacu Jawi

…The sport, which means “ox racing” in the Minang language, features two oxen harnessed with a bamboo plow. A jockey stands on the plow, holding onto the animals’ tails and urging the oxen on by biting their tails as they dash through mud fields.

Sepak Bola Api

…Two teams of equal size try to score by shooting the sepak bola, or soccer ball, into the opposing team’s goal. Only, the soccer ball is an old coconut that’s been dried, scored, hollowed out, soaked in kerosene for up a to a week, and of course, lit on fire. Some participants yawn at the prospect of kicking, punting, throwing and heading a flaming coconut; for them, sepak bola api is best played in bare feet.

…Before a big match, players undergo a three-week-long ritual that is said to make them impervious to the pain of fire.

Sepak Takraw

…Teams of three kick a rattan ball across a net using only their feet, chests and heads. These days it’s played all over the world, especially in Southeast Asia. Given the height of the net (4 feet, 11 inches).

…The name, meaning kick ball, is taken from both Malay and Thai and is essentially a compromise between the two powerhouses of the sport, Indonesia and Thailand.”

That is the summary of the descriptions of the ten nominated sports.


PART ONE: (a) It is a great assertion and contribution on the part of Asia Society group

(b) The society does not sit-down-look

(c) They gave ten candidates at a go, so that IOC will not have shortage of choices

(d) They have indirectly spoken to the Governments in Asia, what the people want

PART TWO: (a) Let Africa take their example from the Asia Society Group

(b) We have various societies in Africa that can speak out.

(c) Institutional Groups can take the initiative too. It will be more assertive.

(d) NSIAC; you are very capable. I remember attending a program organized by NSIAC in 2007, it was very great.

PART THREE: Afrotradosports is fulfilling one of its goals i.e dissemination of information on Traditional Sports Worldwide. Afrotradosports says: go and read a more comprehensive version or better still, the original text of this on Asia Blog; search for: Multimedia 10 Asian Sports that would spice up the Olympics. The videos and photographs are there too.

Afrotradosports, says we in Africa must begin to search for our own ten candidates as Asia with 3 Olympic Sports (Judo, Karate, Taekwondo, already among approved Olympic Sports, is enlisting another 10 Candidates while Africa that has none has not listed any. In the spirit of 8th All Africa Games; Africa must wake up and welcome the world by producing Olympic Sports in no distance time.

Thank you greatly,

Mallam Elias Yusuf


N.B: As at today, there are about 33 approved Olympic Sports with over 300 events.




Dambe a traditional one-hand boxing sport is said to have originated from the northern part of Nigeria many years ago. The original spot/place of the invention has gone into oblivion. However, it was said to have started by butchers. The butchers started it by wrapping one hand as a fist and used the second hand to defend like a shield.


Dambe came into national limelight in Nigeria in 1994 when it was part of the first National Traditional Sports Festival at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos Nigeria under the then Chairman of Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports (NATS) Alhaji Dr. G.N. Hamza. The festival was the first official outing of NATS. It was inside the sports Hall of the National Stadium in Surulere Lagos, in December 1994. We should remember that NATS itself was inaugurated in August 1993 by Chief Alex Akinyele, the then Executive Chairman of National Sports Commission in Nigeria.


I can recall vividly that in one of the bouts of Dambe at that festival, one of the two fighters used the foot to slap the face of the opponent. This was done because the fighter was already used to that slapping of opponent’s face with foot and it was an authentic skill of Dambe before the inauguration of Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports (NATS). This kicking of opponent in Dambe was regarded as too fierce and removed from the start. That was the beginning of democratization/modernization of Dambe, so to say.


Dambe moved further to get to be included in the National Sports Festival by becoming a DEMONSTRATION EVENT AT BENUE 96 and eventually a scoring event at IMO’98


At IMO’98, Dambe was to produce 3 gold medals, but it could only produce two because there were only two states that presented athletes that met the weight category for the heavy weight class. This was against the rule of the festival which stipulated that at least 3 states must participate in an event before the competition in that event is declared valid. There was a big drama about this when some individuals from the states wanted competition to hold at all cost in that category. One of the officials from a state boasted that he was ready to register a small boy that will defeat all these big for nothing heavy weights. But we insisted that the relevant rules must be obeyed. And they were obeyed.


There was another big drama in Dambe at IMO’98, a particular Dambe Player, representing X State refused to fight another player from Y State. The player from X State insisted that the opponent from Y State was his blood brother and he had prepared himself with spiritual powers that would make him inflict a devastating blow on his blood brother who happened to be his opponent in this particular case.


Some people believed him, some did not. Those who disbelieved speculated that he had sold out for money. Whatever that was the real reason, why the player refused to play, you may not rule out a saga in the outcome of the fight if it had taken place since spiritual powers or monetary influence could spell a doom.

In another encounter at Bauchi 2000, a Dambe player from State XY who was said to be an orthodox boxer ventured into Dambe fighting. He was knocked out and he later got into serious health trouble until certain spiritual treatment was sought when Orthodox health practitioners could not help the matter. Maybe it was just psychological or pretence to safe face after disgraceful defeat.


There was a case at Edo 2002, when a Dambe fighter reported his opponent as having an incision during a short break between the first bout and the second bout. And during the second bout, the person who complained was knocked out. He complained that it was the incision that gave the opponent the power to knock him out. Unfortunately he did not make the report when it was fresh and on the spot. So it was very difficult to ascertain whether the incision was really done when it was purported to have been done. A lot of times, these are psychological war fares than the real potency a purported spiritual power was meant to be possessing. We practitioners in traditional sports believe in the skills, strategies, stamina and judicious use of these to win a bout, rather than the speculated spiritual powers that we cannot measure empirically. However, we discourage vehemently the use of spiritual means especially rings, charms and any other means that we can see. All the aforementioned could be likened to some sagas in Dambe. There are those of us who are students of history and who have read about GLADIATORIAL SHOW in ancient history of the Romans. Is any of the descriptions I had narrated above anything close to gladiatorial show? Not at all. They are very far from gladiatorial shows. Yes they are very far. Still some spectators cannot stay to watch Dambe ‘live’. However, very many enjoy watching Dambe ‘live’.


Also we observed that loosers that had bragged very much before the fight, when disgraced or  easily defeated, they concoct “magical excuses as the source of their defeats”. A player that had been receiving salary for a year or two from a sponsoring state, when he disappoints by being defeated scandalously must device method that cannot be empirically viewed to defend his disappointing performance to the state that sponsored him .


Now let us look at beauties of Dambe. Dambe is not a horror sport. Infact I have watched Dambe closely for over twenty years. Dambe is not a saga sport. It is rather a fascinating sport, it is for those who are really brave and sturdy. It is a sport full of sagacity. In my own optical and non-emperical rating. Dambe is the largest crowd pulling indigeneous sport from Africa. It has a slight edge over Kokawa (Traditional Wrestling) when you are talking about crowd pulling.


Infact, I so much believe in the crowd pulling ability of Dambe that I am saying, let us divide a football field into two, let some ordinary footballing go on and let some ordinary Dambe fighting go on at the same time, Dambe’s crowd will compare favorably with the football crowd on the field. Maybe some researchers can just test this hypothesis.


Yes if there is any sport that is a crowd puller, it is Dambe. I have watched Dambe at the National Sports festivals since it was a demonstration event at BENUE’96 and when it became medal scoring event at IMO’98, BAUCHI 2000, EDO 2002, ABUJA 2003 (The 8th All Africa Games) as demonstration event and at ABUJA 2004 when NTA captured it in action and described traditional sports as best crowd puller at Abuja’2004. It is a sport of real physical fitnesss, sturdy body, agile limbs dynamic movements and strategic tactics.


There is Dambe music as Dambe players move around the country, so there are musicians following them. It is just like you will say that Dambe is not complete without Dambe music or Dambe musicians.


Dambe as a form of boxing, has its won peculiar system. It has peculiar foot walk, peculiar movement of the body and body parts. There are also peculiar jubilations from Dambe spectators. In fact I saw a very unusual and uncommon reaction to success in Dambe fighting at ABUJA 2004 – when after a victory in Dambe, a spectator dived and flung himself on the ground and rolled over a heap of sand that was packed there as remainder sand that was used to build the Dambe fighting circle. That is the level of excitement that Dambe gives to audience. Spectators spray money on Dambe fighters.


My several visits to the then privately owned Dambe stadium at Badia, Ijora, Lagos, Nigeria have dispelled the notion that ladies are afraid to watch Dambe because of its fierceness. Ladies paid money, gate fee to watch Dambe at Dambe stadium themselves, not that men sponsored them there.


Really those of us who had being involved in administering Dambe as a sport have been confronted by people asking, “why do we allow such a fierce sport to operate?”. Whenever I face such people I usually tell them that they should congratulate Traditional Sports Federatioon of Nigeria to have softened the fierceness in Dambe in several ways with written rules and regulations. There was a time that Dambe had no written rules and regulations. Infact the first published rules and regulation by NATS was in 1998 under Dr. Haske Dantani as Chairman of NATS and your Afrotradosports man as the chairman of Technical Committee of (NATS). With written rules and regulation, administering, referring and officiating Dambe has moved from the rules of the thumb to a more empirical method and system in all its ramifications.


As you are looking forward to the part two of this article, I wish to draw your attention to the arrow head points that this column is trying to pursue in conjunction with to move our Traditional Sports forward.

  • To educate on Afrotradosports
  • To document our Afrotradosports
  • To propagate Afrotradosports
  • To entertain with our Afrotradosports
  • To mentor and motivate with our Afrotrodosports
  • To disseminate information on Afrotradosports


Thank you.



Mallam Elias Yusuf







This article was not originally an article per se. It has to be recalled from the archives to support my earlier position on this topic of AFROTRADOSPORTS IN OUR SCHOOLS, which was published in this column/blog earlier on. Let us go through it first before I comment on it.


A key note address to the national workshop on setting and harmonizing rules and regulations to guide the teaching and playing of traditional sports in all educational institutions in Nigeria by Mallam Elias Yusuf, Vice Chairman, Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports (NATS), Shiroro Hotel, Minna, Niger State, Nigeria, 2nd – 5th May, 2001.

I am highly delighted to be called upon to give a key note address on Traditional Sports to this August gathering at a national level. I consider it as a great recognition for talent and industry which I humbly represent, and a due recognition for our great national association, Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports (NATS) of which I am the Vice Chairman and the Chairman of the Technical Committee.


Traditional Sports in Nigeria and the world over have been the sports of the hoipolloi from time immemorial. However, some nations have developed their traditional sports to high and sophisticated taste over the years that they, have now become global and universal sports and of course, with high commercial and educational value.


Track and field were traditional sports to the Greeks, soccer and cricket were traditional sports to the British, basketball and volleyball were traditional sports to North America, judo and karate were traditional sports of Asia. Now, all of them have become global and international sports with high educational taste and commercial value. Our own traditional sports have been rendered valueless over the years by external and internal devaluations, neglect and slumber, thereby reducing our great country/continent to a mere consumer of other peoples’ sports. Despite all these odds, our traditional sports remain useful and friendly with grassroot, yearning for the limelight.


The question arises, how do we redress this nasty issue? To me, the answer to the question is: EDUCATION, EDUCATION AND EDUCATION. The only answer is in EDUCATION.

This answer caught a glimpse of the light in Nigeria, in June, 1993 when the Federal Ministry of Education organized a National Seminar with the theme: POPULARIZING NIGERIAN INDIGENOUS GAMES IN NIGERIAN SCHOOLS. From this seminar at the University of Ibadan Conference Center, some Nigerian indigenous sports were short – listed to be included into National Curriculum, but alas! not until this workshop, that glimpse from the Education sector dimmed.


However, as if 1993 had been destined to play a watershed of progress for Nigerian Traditional Sports, another ray of hope sprang up, this time around from a federal parastatal, the National Sports Commission under its Executive Chairman, Chief Alex Akinleye who inaugurated the board of Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports in August 1993 as a national sports association to mobilize, discover, develop and promote our traditional sports through standardization, harmonization and modernization of the rules and regulations and to organize competitions on them for popularization and to eventually export them to other countries.


The first Chairman of NATS was Alh. Dr. G.N. Hamzat, 1993-1995, followed by Alh. Bako Abdu in 1995-1997 and Dr. Haske Dantanee from 1997-2001….. a good number of achievements have been recorded. Abula received IOC patronage through Sports For All Nigeria in April 1994: the First National Festival of Traditional Sports in Nigeria was organized in Dec. 1994, traditional sports became demonstration event at the 10th National Sports Festival, Benue 96, where rules of Ayo were versioned out as National Rules. It was also in Minna in December, 1996 that the first coaching clinic on traditional sports by NATS was organized.

As at today, five of our traditional sports-Abula, Ayo, Dambe, Kokawa and Langa have become scoring events at National Sports Festival organized biennially in Nigeria. At Imo ’98 and Bauchi 2000, traditional sports produced 14, 15 and 15 gold, silver and bronze medals respectively. We have published two booklets 1998 and 2000 respectively, administrative regulations of Traditional Sports in Nigeria. We submitted the syllabus of grade I grade II and grade III coaches in traditional sports to the Nigerian Institute for Sports in 1999.

With these and other achievements of NATS, I like to state that the task of this committee has been mollified by what NATS has on ground to make our Nigerian traditional sports go into the educational institutions in Nigeria for both teaching and playing, because both the theory and practice of the traditional sports in Nigeria have been domesticated and documented to certain extent.

Above all, NATS is ready to make these advantages available to this committee with a great plea, that this committee should please treat them with broadmindedness, understanding and respect for tradition and modernism because these are the main ways forward for traditional sports in Nigeria today.

I wish to appeal that this committee should act with dispatch to ensure that traditional sports enter our educational system with immediate effect as Shakespeare warned: “In delay, there lies no plenty”. When all these documentation are done, they should not end up in the archive, as traditional sports is a form of tourism that not only can fetch Nigeria billions of Naira’s, but will provide job for several thousands of Nigerians in this new millennium. I can give you as a practical example that Coach John here in Minna is the Niger State coach for Abula. In other words, traditional sports are already providing jobs for our youths.

Thank you.

Mallam Elias Yusuf.


Featuring the above key note address as part two of Afrotradosports in our schools in Africa is as necessary as ever, as not much changes have been seen on the issue. It is a GREAT REMINDER to our Federal Ministry of Education in Nigeria that there is need for the Ministry to do SOMETHING NOW to favour promotion of our Traditional Sports in schools. She should check on the facts in the above write up and follow up with concrete actions to redress the issue. Nigeria is not just called “Giant of Africa” she is an ARROW HEAD for Africa development and the central pillar for Africa liberation in all fronts. Nigeria should liberate African indigenous/traditional sports without further delay.

The Federal Ministry of Education is a great ally of UNESCO. She knows much about the stand of UNESCO on traditional Sports, then the roles of sports in educational development of children/pupils/students and the roles of students sports tourism in the world. If the developed countries did not develop their own sports, can we be able to be yearning to collect gold medals on them when we go to Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships? etc.

They say charity begins at home. Promotion of our African Traditional Sports should begin in our schools where our youths and the primary home of sports development worldwide reside. In fact, this ministry started this very important program of promoting our indigenous sports in our schools in 1993 with the theme: Popularising Nigerian Indigenous Games in Nigerian Schools.


Sports and games are the vitamins and minerals salts of the locomotor domain of educational development which dovetails to carry the cognitive and affective domains of educational development shoulder high, remembering that great philosophy; a sound mind in a sound body.

Our Traditional Sports are our ready-made flagships of identity worldwide and can be commercialized as well. We can also contribute sports that will produce medals at the Olympic or Commonwealth Games in the future from among our African Indigenous Traditional Sports, if we are serious with their development and promotion right now, they will also provide homely employment to thousands of our youths too. It is a form of local content in sports.

A stitch in time, saves nine.

Thank you.


Mallam Elias Yusuf


NB:      Today 2nd May, 2018 makes it exactly 17years ago that the above key note address

was delivered.






In August 1993, when the then National Sports Commission in Nigeria under the leadership of Chief Alex Akinyele declared the formation of Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports (NATS), there was no peculiar definition given to Traditional Sports. This was because everybody knows what Traditional Sports are, here. We know what our Traditional Sports are, especially by naming them. We automatically know that sports like Ayo, Abula, Aarin (African Billiards) Dambe, Kokawa, Langa, Bojuboju, Abili, Mudesi, Ekunmeran, Gbadigbadi etc are categorized as Traditional Sports.


26042018 afrotradosports


However, the Chief specified reasons or purposes for which the association on Traditional Sports was formed. The purposes include discovery, documentation, promotion, exportation, modernization etc.


By 2001/2005 when Mallam Elias Yusuf became the President of TSFN, intellectual power/capacity was injected into the Sports Federation and coincidentally, Traditional Sports had started to receive serious attention worldwide through UNESCO, some NGOs, some governmental bodies, especially in Europe where associations like TAFISA, TOCATI, European Traditional Sports and Games Association (ETSGA) with emergent of ICH and TSG as new vocabularies for the pursuance of promoting Traditional Sports in Europe.


Since Europe became involved in the promotion of Traditional Sports, the definitions of Traditional Sports became an “issue imperative”.


What is a traditional sport? Or what are traditional sports? Traditional Sports are defined as follows:


“TAFISA RECALL” in its Abstract to the definition of Traditional Sports and Games (TSG) theoretically stated, that the definition by some international institutions e.g UNESCO, ETSGA, etc used five criteria to process the definition. These were: heritage, classification, preservation, dissemination and consequently popularization among young generation. One of The main definitionS of TSG by TAFISAL is stated “Traditional Games are motor activities as of leisure and recreation which can have a ritual character. They are part of the universal heritage diversity. They are practiced in an individual or collective manner, deriving from regional or local identity. They are based on rules accepted by a group that organizes competitive or non-competitive activities. Traditional games dispose of a popular character in their practice and in their organization, yet if turned into sport tend to be uniform and institutionalized. The practice of traditional games promotes global Health qoating UNESCO, 2009.


European Traditional Sports and Games Association [ETSGA] viewed Traditional Sports as follows:

“Traditional Sports And Games, because they are part of Europe’s intangible heritage and represent both the cultural diversity, constitute a priviledge tool to foster cultural identification at the European level as well as strengthen the European identity. Against the past decade’s trend towards their disappearance, the recent European projects co-founded by the European Commission’s preparatory actions in the field of sports have shown that engaging sustainable action for the safeguarding and promotion, TSG will contribute to the building of a new momentum towards European identification.”


Now, let us come back home here in Nigeria, in Africa, an attempt to define Traditional Sports was intuitively carried out in an Introduction to a paper presented at Traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria (TSFN) National Seminar Workshop and Training, for Technical Officials and Administrators of Traditional Sports in December, 2013, National Stadium Abuja, Nigeria by Mallam Elias Yusuf. The definition goes thus: WHAT IS A TRADITIONAL INDIGENOUS SPORT?

“A sport is indigenous into the niche, town, locality, state, country and the continent in which the sport was invented. As the sport is being practiced over and over, over the years, it becomes a traditional sport of the place and its immediate environment from where it was invented”. This was further expanded when the issue was going to be posted on the website of with the following addition “It may become a tradition of playing this sport/game at a particular season of the year or may be, it has been selected to mark certain annual celebration/festival in the town or state of invention. Therefore it has now grown to be called traditional sport of that area. Eventually, it has become traditional sport of the niche, town, council, state, nation and continent it was invented”.


Coming back to the original seminar paper, the definition continued further by saying, “So, when we refer to African Traditional Indigenous Sports {ATIS} we are referring to Sports that originated from any part of the continent of Africa, remembering that African continent is one of the five continental sport blocks in the world. That is the reason why we have continental sports bodies like COJA, CAF, ANOCA, CONAIS, ATIWA etc and the five rings of the Olympic Games symbol with Africa being represented by the central black ring of the symbol.


To the readers of this write up, I am reminding you, that is out to educate, entertain, promote (etc) on  our Traditional Sports. This particular episode is to alert all of us in Africa, that those of us, who might be erroneously thinking, that EUROPE which may be the most advanced continent in sports development in modern and global sports in the world, is not leaving any stone unturned in promoting her Traditional Sports and Games [TSG} Development. The question is, are we going to lag behind in Traditional Sport Development again?


There is a great rising profile of Traditional Sports and Games in the world now. Let us start with those of us reading this column. We should begin to spread the message in order to make sure that our Traditional Sports do not lag behind. Then, our government, institutions, individuals involved in promotion of our Traditional Sports should not SIT-DOWN-LOOK.

Europe which is like a “light year” ahead of Africa in the ownership of GLOBAL SPORTS, is already working harder than Africa in developing and promoting her Traditional Indigenous Sports and games (TISG).


Thank you.


By Mallam Elias Yusuf      






Yes, let us go there!


Yes, there we go! Yes or No! Were there Traditional Sports in the XX1 Commonwealth Games?  I say, do you agree, that there were some Traditional Sports in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, at Gold Coast, Australia?



I know that those of us here in Africa, we have our indigenous traditional sports like Ayo, Abula, Aarin (African Billiards), Dambe (traditional boxing), Kokawa (traditional wrestling), Langa (a kind of marshal arts sport), Horse racing (Durbar), Abili, Mudesi, Gbadigbadi, Ekunmeran, Pharaoh boxing, Nsango etc. Was any one of these African Traditional Sports in the Commonwealth Games? No. certainly our African Traditional Sports were not there. This was because these were Traditional Sports from Africa. It was not just that alone. It was because these our Traditional Sports are still at the level of sports not yet “institutionalized”. Very  soon in this write up you will know what it means for a sport to be “institutionalized”. Some of our Traditional Sports have started to receive “treatment” or have started to receive “instrument” of “institutionalization”.


Now, let us go back to our initial question. Do you believe that there were Traditional Sports among the Commonwealth Games of 2018 at Gold Coast, Australia? I will rather prefer to answer the question with proof and not direct “Yes or No” answer. I will also answer the question from European point of view as elucidated by “TAFISA RECALL”.


The European Traditional Sports and Games Association (ETSGA) classified Traditional sports under eight divisions, according to TAFISA RECALL. The divisions  include:


  1. Malleable ball games, played without or with the use of equipment such as racket, bat stick. From this group, let us pick net ball as a traditional game in the current Commonwealth Games. Yes, it’s among.
  2. Non-malleable balls such as bowls, skittle games, billiards, etc. from that group, we can identify, Lawn bowl in the current Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
  3. Throwing games involving throwing objects such as darts, hammer, bullet, cabers etc. From this division, we can pick hammer which is in the current Commonwealth Games.
  4. Shooting games e.g. fire-arms, target shooting, blowpipes, sling etc. Shooting was among the sports in this just concluded 2018 Commonwealth Games.
  5. Fighting and jousting sports e.g. wrestling, drilling stone contest, quintana, tug-of-war etc. Wrestling was among the Commonwealth Games 2018.
  6. Animal games tagged (cruel games) where an animal is the object of play.
  7. Locomotion games, involving moving oneself or moving an object. Such sports may mean sports like running and throwing, the relay race etc.
  8. Acrobatics, which requires skillful body control e.g. Castells. Gymnastics can identify with this group.


It is cristal clear that there were Traditional Sports at this 2018 Commonwealth Games. However, all the Traditional Sports there have gotten to “institutionalized” level.


First, what is a Traditional Sport? By my own observation, Europe is not defining “a Traditional Sport”, rather in Europe; they define Traditional Sports in plurality. Most of the definitions available will tell you “Traditional Games” or more frequently “Traditional Sports and Games (TSG), thereafter using “TSG” as acronym for the vocabulary standing for Traditional Sports in their texts.


For example, TAFISA RECALL, featuring Blanchard (1995) as viewing Traditional Sports on anthropological point of view. “He saw TSG as forms of sports activities directly tied to particular local ethnic or folk cultures (ethnic or folk sport), mostly competitive with physical play and game-like elements with limited or no professional variants, with stronger ritual overtones than those so-called modern sports. In this respect, TSG preserved traditional values, developed the skills of participants and help to link the present with the past”.


TAFISA RECALL went further to give more comprehensive definition of Traditional Sports as: “Traditional games are motor activities of leisure and recreation which can have a ritual character. They are part of the universal heritage diversity. They are practiced in an individual or collective manner deriving from regional or local identity; they are based on rules accepted by a group that organizes competitive or non-competitive activities. Traditional games dispose of a popular character in their practice and in their organization, yet if turned into sport tend to be uniform and institutionalized. The practices of traditional games promote global health (UNESCO 2009)”.


The beauty of the definition is that it looks very simple, yet it is very sophiscated. It means, Traditional Sports are not “yet real sports” until “turned into sport tend to be uniform and institutionalized”. To my understanding, such traditional sports should have been developed, improved, with articulate universal rules and regulations (institutionalized). The sport becoming an “institution” must have received professional variants.


The Traditional Sport, graduating from that local level, to become a global sport (a real sport) is the main target of our African Traditional Sports.


Let us look at the real sports at this 2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast Australia, (the XX1 Commonwealth Games). The approved sports include;

  1. Athletics
  2. Badminton
  3. Basketball
  4. Bowls
  5. Boxing
  6. Aquatics
  7. Hockey
  8. Rugby Seven
  9. Squash
  10. Table Tennis
  11. Volleyball
  12. Wrestling
  13. Cycling
  14. Gymnastics
  15. Netball
  16. Shooting
  17. Triathlon
  18. Weightlifting


All the above sports, were the approved sports of 2018 Commonwealth Games. Each of the sports listed above is an “institution” with professional variants.


What does it entail for a sport to be an institution, or to be institutionalized? To have professional variants? It may mean:


  • Should have possessed universally accepted rules and regulations
  • Has spread to many countries
  • Has spread to the countries that are participating in it
  • Has international controlling body
  • Has spread to most of all the continents of the world
  • Each country participating in it must have gotten to a level of proficiency that will make the team representing her not to be a misfit on the field of play
  • Techniques and technologies must have been injected into it after its initial raw invention and existence.
  • Capacity building must have been imbued into it.

Yes, let us go there and make our AfricanTraditional Sport get there.

Thank you.


Mallam Elias Yusuf

16 – 04 – 2018