*Celebrating Tuoyo Mayuku: The African Scrabble Queen
*As she launches for the World crown. Watch out for her
From Kayode Fashola
From the very first day that I set my eyes on her. She is by name Tuoyo Mayuku about three decades ago, I knew this is one lady with a difference judging from her aggression and determination to surpass in a supposedly male dominated game of wordsmiths called Scrabble.
It was very early in the morning at the then Colonel now Retired General Gold Eburu’s house at The Cantonment Ikeja, Lagos and like a tomboy that she was and still remains, she bustled out of the boy’s quarters kitted like a boxer ready for the early morning workout.
No. She wasn’t a boxer then and neither is she now; Tuoyo Mayuku is African Queen of Scrabble, that scintillating game of intellectuals.
Immediately she set her eyes on me, her first question was: ‘Bros eh you go jam?’ using her native Urhobo/Itsekiri Waffi local admixture of English with local dialect intonation meaning: ‘Hello brother, will you play Scrabble?
It was no news to Nigerian Scrabble aficionados that we play the game round the clock. I responded affirmatively and we went in to serious tackle on the 15 by 15 square board. Before you say Jack Robinson I had given her 3 zat (zero) with stakes under the board which in Nigerian parlance we call “blooding”.
She was overwhelmed and flabbergasted since she didn’t know me then as the man they called S. K. FASH now metamorphosed to The Nemesis.
She ran back to call other Scrabble warriors indoors like Felix Jonas, Sanni Moshood Olasunkanmi, Oyadiran Olabiyi Olabode, Sammy Okosagah as The Cantonment in those days is like war concentration camp called Abe-Igi Scrabble Academy with General Gold Eburu (Retired) as the Commandant (under the tree) for Scrabble players of yore.
She lapsed into her waffi pidgin English again: “make una come eh, who be this bros eh? Him just knack me 3 zat eheheheh” meaning: ‘Come one, come all, come and help me to identify this brother who just defeated me thrice.’
The warriors befuddled with sleep came out yawning ready to protect one of their own only to come face to face with me and they all bursted into raucous laughter to her shock at a joke on her that she couldn’t grasp until Felix the man codenamed Feijoa said: ‘Oh you mean you don’t know S. K. Fash?’
Jocularly she genuflected and said: ‘bros please, I am sorry, I no know say na you, please return the stake and we all laughed over it.’
That was almost 30 years ago a period we can refer to as her vegetable days just like Cleopatra opined in that legendary novel. Today as in the last 10 years Tuoyo Mayuku has come of age with laurels from local, national to international in her kitties ranging from Gold, Silver to Bronze medals.
This Delta State coach had won uncountable medals and recognitions both by and for herself as well as for Nigeria and her native Delta State.
The icing on the case which surpassed her former achievements both continentally and globally was her unprecedented and unrivalled achievement at the 9th Godswill Akpabio International Scrabble Classics that came to an end on the 30th of September 2017 in Uyo the capital of Akwa-Ibom State.
In a field that featured many past African champions, national champions, the Chair of World Youth Committee of WESPA Karen Richards and wait for this, the current WESPAC World champion in our own Wellington Jighere also the best player of The Scrabble Game as of today’s universe Nigel Richards.
Tuoyo Mayuku surpassed all expectations by coming 2nd behind Jighere the current World Champion by defeating that enigma of our game Nigel Richards on table 2 after Jighere was Gibsonised and for her efforts she carted home N1.5 million (One million, five hundred thousand Naira)
By this unequalled feat, Tuoyo has once again reconfirmed the age long cliche: what a man can do, a woman can do even better.
Whoever says a woman cannot win the Scrabble World championship should please hold their breaths and have a rethink as we proceed to Kenya for the next edition of WESPAC coming up in Nairobi next month as Tuoyo will be a member of Team Nigeria codenamed The Green Locusts going to invade the Kenyans to defend the World Championship won by Jighere at Perth Australia two years ago.
On behalf of Sulaiman Garba Gora the President of Nigeria Scrabble Federation, all players of our game Scrabble home and in the Diaspora I say: Congratulations to Lady T our African nay Global Scrabble Queen.