Edo National Sports Festival: How Traders Abandoned Wares In Benin
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By Amaechi Agbo
When the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival, NSF began in Benin City, Edo State on Easter Sunday, uninformed residents of the city and its surroundings might not have understood what lay in wait for them, perhaps.
Nigeria is a country with its typical configuration be it demographic or economic. However, when it comes to struggle for survival, all Nigerians share similar factor – hardwork.
The National Sports Festival, otherwise called “Nigerian Olympic” has its perculiar attributes and mission – to unite Nigerians. Nigerians also seized the opportunity to make brisk businesses.
Despite the circumstances in Benin regarding the festival not being perfect in terms is standard, one fact that cannot be taking for granted is that its intent and purpose has not been tampered with.
Nigerians are not only peace lovers and law-abiding citizens, but when it comes to sports, their individual backgrounds be it cultural and enthnic, are relegated to the background.
This, it was not unexpected that traders who were trading their wares on Saturday in Benin City decided to forsake their businesses and follow their hearts. To watch a traditional wresting match.
Benin City for the past few days is host to thousands of Nigerian athletes and officials not forgetting journalists who converged in the ancient city to exchange views and share knowledge in sports.
The organisers of the festival have recently approved and added new sports in the menu of the festival among which is Dambe.
Dambe is a martial art of the Hausa people predominant in West Africa. Competitors in a typical match aim to subdue each other into total submission mostly within three rounds.
It often results in serious bodily injuries for the challengers such as broken jaws and ribs. The tradition is dominated by Hausa butcher caste groups, and over the last century evolved from clans of butchers traveling to farm villages at harvest time, integrating a fighting challenge by the outsiders into local harvest festival entertainment.
Although it is not the first time this particular sport is played in the festival, however, Edo 2020 appeared to be the city that Dambe drew the largest spectators most of who abandoned their wares outside the match arena to have first hand feel of the traditional sport.
The match was between Bayelsa State and Kano State. Learning about this fight, the traders who were hawking wares such as clothes and others kept their wares outside the gate of the arena oblivious of theft, hot weather and other inclement conditions that could affect the wares.
Meanwhile at the indoor hall in the University of Benin was a fierce battle between the Kano and Bayelsa wrestlers. The crowd applauded the fighters as they aimed to outsmart each other. The fight which lasted for many minutes ended after Kano defeated Bayelsa to take home the gold.
After the match, the traders came back to pick their wares outside the gate, intact and untampered with.
This does not only highlight the importance of sports in enthroning and sustaining national unity but also as vehicle for eradicating crimes and criminalities as well as other social vices in the country.
A sports journalists who witnessed this great show of national solidarity, Wale Ayeni, had this to say “Traders abandoned their goods just to watch the Tradditional Sports (Dambe) actions at the ongoing National Sports Festival in Benin City.
“Who says sports is not a unifying factor in Nigeria again?
“Proper investment in sports will end insecurity in Nigeria,” he said.
And that is the undisputable fact. When traders abandoned their wares