Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Remember

by Jonas Dogara
I remember when I small. No kind play children no been dey play - backflip, cartwheel, rubber leg, running, high jump, long jump and even poju poju. My street na 100m track for us children. No evening wey you no go hear ‘On your marks, set, go!’ outside our house. Our parents dey actually come out for our houses and watch us as we dey arrange ourselves dey run. We dey make small small ‘machines’ wey get wheels and dey push dem all over the place. Some of us dey carry old bike and motor tyres dey run for street. Sometimes they tyre dey even big pass the pikin wey dey try to push am. We been dey wrestle too. Those of us wey from villages wey dem dey wrestle come introduce am to us. But we no dey do am where our parents go see us. If not, na cane we go wrestle with. We bin play many games wey if to say we do am till we grow we for be professional play play people. I mean, I been dey very good with my catapult. I dey shoot anything wey dey move. I enter trouble a few times because of am too.

I remember say the navy men wey dey stay for the NNS Pathfinder Base (that time na NNS Akaso) dey like to jog for morning. And dem no dey mind if people join them to jog, provided you no go try to slow dem down. If you dey slow down, dem go run pass you. If you fit run like dem, you go just join dem dey sing dey go. As teenagers, some of us dey follow dem dey run, because e just dey sweet us to fit run with these military men. Even on days wey navy men no dey run, a lot of people - both old and young, dey still come out for morning to run.

I remember say for our different cultures, e get many things wey people de do to enjoy themselves and to stay fit. Some tribes get special days for wrestling where people go gather dey beat drums, chant songs for their person and cheer the wrestlers until one person back go touch ground. You remember the famous Okonkwo and Amalinze the Cat, from Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe?

I remember play play for school. We extend a lot of the play from house to school. Break time no be small thing. Then inter-house sports competitions dey too. Na the biggest event for the school calendar every year. In fact when at  a certain time of the year, every weekend you go see children wey wear their different House colours dey go school with their parents for inter-house sports. Na our own Olympics be that. For primary school my house dey like Nigeria for London 2012, but for secondary school my house dey like USA! Plenty singing and dancing when dem go award us the trophy o.

Now I look around and most of the things wey I remember, done disappear. We all dey sad say Naija perform very badly for Olympics and everybody dey shout about reform of the Sports Ministry and Sports Federations and grassroots sports development. That na good shout. But you see, the problem of our sports no be just say nobody send for grassroots development. E pass like that.

When I small, I no know how small pikin fit take stay inside him house when others dey play outside. E hard o. If you look around now you go see children wey no dey play at all. Dem either dey watch Africa Magic or dem dey watch cartoons, depending on their level of aje. As dem dey grow up, e go change from Cartoon Network and Disney Channel to MTV and E! where dem go discover the Kardarshians and My Super Sweet 16 and na there their own finish! Dem papa and mama no de allow them go outside. So, dem no fit run around or mix with other children or climb trees.

But wait first o. Even if parents allow dem go out, na which tree dem go climb sef? All the trees wey been dey around, done disappear finish. Government done sell or dash dem to people wey done build house everywhere! I remember the parks and playgrounds wey we been get all over Port Harcourt. Public places dey to play football and basketball and even swim. For places like Elekahia Housing Estate, gardens dey where people dey go relax and children dey go chase butterflies. I no fit remember the last time I see butterfly sef. That garden done enter voice mail since! The one garden wey the present government do now, fine well well, but dem put am for express road! I no sure how person wan let him children go play for express road garden o!

Now, even if the parks and playgrounds still dey everywhere, people go really let their children go play? The primary duty of every papa and mama na to take care of their children in the best way wey dem fit. And our country be as e get now, which person get strong mind to let him pikin comot for house just to go play? People wey dey kidnap dey one corner dey do their own, while people wey dey bomb dey their own corner too. Then you get plenty people for road wey dey drive motor and ride bikes like say evil spirits dey pursue dem. How any papa and mama, wey their head correct, go wan let dem pikin just go outside to play na?

Now anybody wey think say the children fit play for school these days no dey live for Naija. Because most of our government schools dey useless, anybody wey get small money dey put him pikin for private schools. Every year, more and more people dey send their children go private schools. And if you done see most of these private schools, e dey easy to understand why children no fit play. Most of them no even get enough classroom space sef, before dem go get playground. So where the children wan play and how dem wan take do inter-house sports?

The Paralympic Games done almost start. And na wetin make me remember Olympics wey I done try to forget. You done see our primary and secondary schools for disabled children? Na just like most government schools. Dem dey rotten dey go. Unfortunately, we no get private schools for disabled children. How this people dey manage, na only God sabi. But we dey expect medals for the Games abi? Yes, by the grace of the Nigerian god.

At the end, the question be say ‘how children wan take develop interest for sports and develop whatever talents dem get, if dem no get the chance to play?’

We all agree say government need to do something about sports urgently. But no be just about more money for the ministry or kicking out the corrupt officials and putting new blood. Government need to go back to their basic work. That work na to care for us just the way parents dey care for their children. Government need to keep us secure, protect our environment so that we go fit enjoy life, provide education of a high standard for our children (including the disabled ones), provide world-class health care facilties, etc. If government do these things, children go begin play again. And if children begin play again and our Sports Ministry plan well and implement the proper programs, e no go tey before we begin do well at every level of sports.

I go still dey follow the Nigerian athletes for the Paralympic Games. Maybe, dem go give us wetin we no been get for the Olympics Games. But even if dem no fit, I go still dey hail dem. To do wetin dem dey do, no be beans.

This na @nfsqueezed on Twitter

I dedicate this piece to the special person wey write am with my hands.


  1. Nice Write Up....Ur Pidgin English Needs Work Though

    1. Thank you, Akemini. E go really hard for me to change how I dey speak pidgin for this my old age o. And anywhere wey e be like say grammar plenty inside the piece, e dey deliberate. You know say no be everybody fit speak am tight like you dey speak am. But the good thing be say you get the message. Thanks again for reading and try share with others.

  2. I feel you Jonas...the thing dey on point...you cover everywhere sef...your cutlass sharp no be small!

  3. Another good one bro. Again clear and to the point.

  4. This na correct talk wey you talk for here so o. E for sweet if all dem government boys wey boku for twitter dey collect money for job wey dem no do fit see dis and throway am give dem oga. But me I get hope sha say this our Naija go still better one day.

    Oga Jona, your head dey there, ink go dey boku for your pen always.

    1. Bukky, you yarn well. I sure say the government boys dey read the things wey we dey write. Whether dem go like pass am up to their oga, na different matter o. And if dem even get the liver to pass the thing up, the man go do anything about am? Remember say the man no 'give a damn'! But like you, I believe say our country must better. Another option no dey.