– 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 afrotradosports.man 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 afrotradosports.man 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 fifa.com, 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 fifa.com, footballhistory.org 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







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 www.Afrotradosports.com Dambe (unit).



Mallam Elias Yusuf