Thursday, 6 November 2008

On Religion and Soccer (for lack of a better title)

Update (07 November)
Thanks Waffy for 'reminding' me that actually, Lagos is no longer the capital of Nigeria.

Hey, folks, that was a (Freudian?) slip. I take all the responsibility for it.

Lagos stopped being the administrative capital of Nigeria in 1991, when the then President Babangida moved the seat of Government to Abuja (wiki)

But in a sense it remains the defacto commercial capital, and of course the most populated. And it's where I live. The (personal) question I get asked the most here is "So where in Nigeria do you live?" to which I answer, LAGOS. So somehow I must have answered the Kebab guy below with the same confidence, without thinking about what exactly it was he was asking me.
And then I went ahead to blog, still without thinking about it (Note to self: Do Not, Ever Again, Blog After Midnight!).

This error suddenly makes me feel like I'm Sarah Palin...

For the purposes of this blog, I think I might leave the exchange below as it is. But please, for the purposes of history and history lessons, Lagos is no longer the capital of Nigeria. It is only where I live...

I'm off to find the Kebab guy to admit my error...


I'm on the last lap of my tour of duty...
I don't want to think about it, about how much I'll miss this life, these cities, quaint Uppsala, big city Stockholm, how I'll miss getting lost in the midst of these people whose language I cannot speak, miss stopping people to ask for directions and having to quickly say "English, English" when they start talking to me in Swedish, miss the kebab joints and 'Chinese garden' and being stuck with BBC world...

But now's not the time to dwell on memories...

Yesterday evening I went to a kebab place. The guy at the counter, of Middle Eastern origin started to speak Swedish to me.
"English, English" I said. He complied. I made my order. Then he asked me where I was from.
Nigeria, I told him.
The capital of Nigeria is what?
Lagos.* (see Update)
Ah, Lah-gos...

* are there both Christians and Muslims in Nigeria?
In equal numbers?
Well, there seem to be more Muslims than Christians, I say. (At least that's what I think)
But all your football players are Christian, eh?
Well... most...


(I want to explain that most of Nigeria's soccer superstars are Igbos, from South Eastern Nigeria, and that the Igbo are mostly Christians - Catholics to be precise. I want to further explain that I can't recall having ever met a Muslim Igbo, even though I'm sure they exist...)

But this is not seminar session on 'Religion, Geography and Soccer in Nigeria: A critical appraisal'

Then he starts to reel out names of Nigerian soccer players:
The usual suspects - Kanu Nwankwo, JJ Okocha ("the guy at Bolton" is what he says as he tries to recall the name), Julius Aghahowa, Sunday Oliseh, "Uche" (he's forgotten the surname)...

When he says 'Uche' I suggest 'Uche Okafor', which I think he hears as 'Kuffour' because he immediately tells me that Kuffour is from Ghana.

I marvel at his knowledge of Nigerian players, and he tells me that he's a fanatic, and even apologises that his knowledge has diminished over time...

It's somewhat refreshing to be away from literary circles for once, where the first question I am asked always has something to do with Chinua Achebe or Wole Soyinka.


Just before I leave (after eating) I walk up to him to ask where he's from.
He hesitates for a moment, then speaks.

"Let's talk later" he says "It's complicated"

Complicated? I leave almost scratching my head. How complicated can it be? As complicated as the "it's complicated" of Facebook?

I guess he's right. The Identity Question always manages to be one of the most complicated in the world... ask Barack Obama for further details...


rayo said...

i will miss this blog nd d pictures from tolu's 'wanderings'. lol @this guy, i dnt even think i kno any nign players asides from d old ones that is.

Waffarian said...

what do you mean the capital of Nigeria is Lagos???? Surely, you Lagosians can not be living in such ancient history...

R.E.II™ said...

It remains the capital of Nigeria is Lagos. Abuja is merely the administrative capital. Lagos is the commercial capital. In which case, no need for the apologies. Tolu you were very correct. In my unfolding story, I'll link to you on my blog as the writer.

Waffarian said...

@r.e.ii: I really do not know what you are going on about...there is no country that has two official capitals, "commercial" and "administrative". Tolu was wrong and you are wrong as well. The kebab man did not ask for those two distinctions, he simply wanted to know what the official capital of Nigeria was. I think Tolu was right in apologising, after all, we must be able to give foriegners the right information about our country. I mean, how funny would it be if kebab man finds out from the internet that Abuja is the capital? What would he think of our education system?

I don't know what your issue is, Tolu has accepted his mistake. What is right is right, no bloody excuses.


just like asaba is the capital of delta state and not warri, even though most deltans would tell you that warri is the commericial capital, but officially, it is not.

R.E.II™ said...

I do not think there is anything sinister in asserting that Lagos is Nigeria's capital. For business purposes, it is the recognised capital of Nigeria on the world stage and remains the commercial capital. There was absolutely no need for the apology in this case. The Nigerian government haven't a clue what they are doing or the potential of the country.

In South Africa, for example, the administrative capital is Pretoria, the legislative capital is Cape Town, and the judicial capital is Bloemfontein, the outcome of the compromise that created the Union of South Africa in 1910. Taking this further, between 1940 and 1944 France had two administrative capitals. Paris and Vichy. Between 1912 and 1947, India had two capitals. During the winter, Delhi. During the summer, Simla.

Therefore, my good friend, Waffarian, I understand exactly why you may be getting frustrated. Please there is no need to be sad. Tolu should continue with his good work.