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'Nigeria has only two days'

Mawuli Zogbenu 1212.jpeg Mawuli Zogbenu is the author

Wed, 23 Mar 2022 Source: Mawuli Zogbenu

Finidi George passes the ball to Friday Elahor. The ball has been intercepted by Emmanuel Armah Senegal of Ghana but ooo he loses it to Sunday Oliseh. Oliseh sends a long pass and it is headed away by Mohammed Gago.

It is a throw-in, in favour of Ghana. The Nigerians are getting jittery in their 18 box. Stephen Keshi is not scared; he was a tough defender. (May his soul rest in peace).

CK Akonnor tries to score from a 30 yard stretch after Abedi Pele sends him a smart back pass but oh nooo. Stephen Keshi quickly chests the ball and sends a basket kick to Friday Ekpoh. What could Friday Ekpoh do with the ball heading towards the Black Stars territory! Oh he is down with an injury suspected to be a torn ligament. The ball gets blown away deliberately into safety by Kwame Ayew when the referee’s whistle signals a foul. So who is down? Thank God it’s Fridayyyyyyyyyyyyy…Friday Elahor! Hahahahahahahaha!

Before then, during their youth soccer tournaments, you would hear commentary going like: “Odeneku passes the ball to Okenedu’ oo noo it is rather Okenedu who headed the ball away from Odeneku’. At the end of the day you won’t know exactly who is passing the ball to who! Ei Naija, our beloved cousins.

It’s Fridayyyy and let’s enjoy some unserious business with this abstract while we wait to see what happens between the Blacks Stars of Ghana and the Super Eagles of Nigeria in the world cup qualifiers this Friday. Let’s take it easy on ourselves. After all, it is only Ghana vs our God-given cousins, Nigeria. We compete on everything except one thing. Their guys generally like our girls. Their girls generally don’t like us or is it rather we don’t generally like them? Hahaaaa!! The big day is coming o.

So the line-up went like Abedi Ayew Pele, Tony Yeboah, Tony Baffoe, C.K Akonnor, Emmanuel Armah ‘Senegal’, Prince Polley, Kwame Ayew, Frimpong Manso, Edward Ansah, Frank Amankwa, Ahmed Gago, Sam Johnson, Richard Nawu and Isaac Asare. These were some of the most familiar names in AFCON 1992 and 1994. The Stars didn’t win the ultimate trophy but they still made us happy and proud.

They came against familiar Nigerian names such as Friday Okpoh, Friday Elahor, Sunday Oliseh, Daniel Amokachi, Alloysis Agu, Stephen Keshi (MHSRIP), Austin Eguavoen, Ben Iroha, Nduka Ugbade, Thompson Oliha, Austin Okocha, Rashidi Yekini (MHSRIP), Samson Siasia, Emmanuel Amunike, Finidi George (the name that sounded so nice to pronounce by commentators with caucasian accent and music to the ears of those of us who watched soccer on TV). Egbon Finidi George, where Una dey nau? Everything cool? Last Saturday I heard the voice of your Brother, Yakubu Ayigbeni famously known for his star performance in the AFCON 2008 in Ghana. It was such a delight listening to him on JOY FM when Nathaniel Attoh engaged him on his Sports Show.

The man spoke softly but sarcastically promised to loan Ghana some strikers if we so wish! I couldn’t help laughing that afternoon while driving from Kasoa to Ashaiman. My ‘countryman’, in case you didn’t know, a Ghanaian Ewe who hails from the Volta Region is often politely referred to as ‘Ayigbeni’.

Language is something else. We all don’t know where we are really coming from. You know the Yuroba word for ‘blacksmith’ is ‘agbede’ the same way the Ewes (Ayigbenis of which I am one) in Ghana, Togo and Benin call a ‘blacksmith’.

There are other words that sound common to the people of Yuroba land and the people of the Volta Regions (I mean, we Ayigbenis) but have different meanings. I got upset at a point because everyone addressed me as ‘Egbon’. Initially I thought they were insulting me as a ‘goat’ since some of their earlier words meant the same things in Ewe. When I explained to them that ‘egbon’ in my language means ‘goat’, they laugh aaaaa! Later, they explained that ‘Egbon’ in Yuroba simply means ‘big brother’ or just ‘brother’. Yes o.

The most intriguing was this one. The Yuroba name for susu (savings) box. It got me laughing till now! I asked for the Yuroba name for susu box, abeg, your wife sef go bore rof, herh! They described it as ‘that box wey you go put something small small for inside everyday till na in begin to become ‘pregnant’ then you open am comot Naira’! I exploded with laughter when they gave the name in Yuroba.

When I told them that in my language it means ‘a lady’s ‘this thing’ where men enjoy’, they nearly collapsed from laughing. Am feeling shy to say it mpo but ask any Ayigbeni friend how Ewes call it. The Bible says husbands should enjoy their wives. Where? That should give you a clue.

It is called ‘k*l*’. Just fill in the gaps but if it turns out to be ‘kala’, it is wrong. If it is ‘kulu’, it is still wrong. ‘Kili’ is wrong too. ‘Kele’ is over the bar! There are five vowels in the 26 letters of the English alphabets; I have already used 4 here. Find the asterix! You can now get the answer by looking for the last one and use it to substitute the asterisks in: ‘k*l*’. Fill it and pronounce it loudly for the Ewe ladies near you to hear.

You can also use it in a sentence e.g, ‘Can I open your k*l*’ and put some coins inside?’. Don’t wait for a response, if not and you get a subtle slap, you are on our own. The only safe place to say this is in Yuroba land, not among Ayigbe people o! The spelling and the tonation are the same but different meanings.

That is how the Yurobas call ‘susu box’ o!

Ghana and Nigeria’s clash this Friday may present similar commonalities and differences but remember if you have two wives who have been ‘fighting’ each other, please allow the ‘fights’. Just be happy. Otherwise when they are on good terms and decide to one day team up against you, you are finished.

Why change a ‘winning team’! Allow them to ‘fight’ for 90 minutes! That is why if you own a company and your accountant and auditor are on good terms, you have to start getting worried. The ideal situation is for the two to be ‘fighting’ otherwise when they start laughing and going out for lunch together in the same car, sorry o, Oga!

Ghanaians and Nigerians are great siblings. It is one of the reasons I am usually not comfortable when some people try to paint a certain picture as if those of us doing the painting are saints. Nigerians are nice people; they are only human.

My experience with them in Ikeja, Lekki, Victoria Islands, Ibadan, Ogun State, Ekiti State, Oshun etc have been very wonderful. What I like about them is the fact that generally they tell you what they must tell you in the face without being rude. and then WE MOVE!

At some point in Naija, about half the population of football fans were Chelsea supporters, maybe because of Mikel Obi. Annytime I visited Nigeria, I used to argue with them at Eko Hotel, VI. That was when I was a Liverpool fan and you would love their arguments – very interesting. They knew me very well as a Ghanaian but they treated me like just one of them. I only stopped supporting Liverpool when Lewis Soarez joined Liverpool. Annoyingly, he was still scoring goals for Liverpool! That boy er…2010 mundial? Hmmm!

We are the same people o. You know Ile Ife in Osun (Oshun) State is known in history as the place where the Ga people of Accra migrated from. There is a place called ‘AKARA OSU’ in ‘OSU TOWN’. On one occasion, I stopped by to see if I would see Ga kenkey. I didn’t.

I wanted to be sure Ataa Anum and his people were indeed from Ile Ife so I went to buy something from a woman and guess her name: ‘Gbemi-sola’. With the first two syllables of the name, I had concluded that yes, Accra indeed started from here! Greetings o, Sir Segun Oluwwafemi of Ekiti State! Great man by all standards. Oga, how far with Chelsea nau? Hahahahahahaha!

As for me, this match as competitive as it is, I see it more of a family reunion. Will there be jollof competition as well? Whether Ghana jollof tastes better than Nigerian jollof, remember, the taste of food is subjective. A Ghanaian may prefer Nigerian jollof and vice-versa; you may never know.

That notwithstanding, upon all my interactions with Nigerians, I have seen only two names of people bearing names of the days of the week – Sunday and Friday!

‘Oya’ let’s go and enjoy the match on Friday. You see, ‘Oya’ in Yuroba and in Ga means the same thing: ‘quickly’! No bi so? Hahaaaaaaa!

Columnist: Mawuli Zogbenu