*As Nigeria’s terrorist squad takes nine of top 10 slots
By Fashola Kayode, Tema-Ghana
By Sunday evening with a game still at hand to be played, the 14th African Scrabble championship was coming to its home stretch in Accra, the Ghanaian capital, Nigeria emerged winners in team and individual categories but with Saidu Ayorinde becoming the new African champion. This victory was coming at the heels of Nigeria conquering the world in far away Malaysia two weeks ago.
The African Scrabble championship is organised by the Pan African Scrabble Association (PANASA). It went on for four days skirmishes on the 15 by 15 battlefield which is also called the Scrabble Board.
It had been a game of wits with Scrabble Masters and Experts from all over the English speaking African nations. The World Scrabble Champion Wellington Jighere led others including current African champion Nsikakabasi Etim Solomon and former African champions like Rex Ogbakpa, Ikekeregor Dennis, Onyeoma and several national champions like Olatunde Oduwole, Eta Paul, Cyril Umebiye, Prince Osahon Omosefe, Avwenagha Oshevire, Bright Idahosa, John Curtis, Azu Ogbogu, Omije Osas and the youngest Master
player Enoch Pen Cil Nwali. The team was coached by Ikolo Anthony.
The star-studded Nigerian contingent was led by a high powered delegates most of who also doubled as players. This included the President of Nigeria Scrabble Federation (NSF) who also doubles as PANASA President Alhadji Sulaiman Garba Gora.
The erstwhile President of NSF and WESPA Representative Chief Toke Aka who officiated as the Technical Director in Ghana. The Secretary of The Association Mallam Adamu Maikano. Also on the
crack team is the National Technical Director Alhaji Umar Faruq Baba-Inna who is also the Secretary of PANASA.
The intimidating Team Nigeria was met in Ghana by renowned Scrabble experts from Uganda as led by The Phenomenon himself Phillip Edwin-Mugisha. The Kenyan Team was led by a tested veteran of the game Gitonga Nderitu while the hosts also presented a very strong team led by another tested veteran of the game Chris Placca.
ASC Ghana 2016 was described as the African Scrabble galaxy of stars hence it had been a dicey and keenly contested Scrabble tournament so far. Nigeria had dominated the title on all occasions it has taken place.
The championship despite the overwhelming dominance of the Nigerians lived up to the billings as bookmakers pre-tournament permutations failed in predicting the eventual winner.
Emerging with a steady rise, the newly crowned World number 3 at the just concluded Causeway scrabble challenge in Malaysia, Saidu Ayorinde Adebanjo came up with Gitonga Nderitu breathing fire and brimstone.
Gitonga who had told those who wished to listen had wanted to demystify the Nigerians who had won 11 out of 12 formal editions. The Kenyan lone ranger got lost when Ayorinde walked up to the African crown with a game yet to be played.
With Nigerians Rex Ogbakpa, Eta Karo, Cyril Umebiye, John Curtis, Ikekerego Dennis, Ikolo Anthony, Prince Omosefe, Jighere Wellington, Nsikakabasi Etim, Azu Ogbogu in the 3rd to 12th positions all around Gitonga, he surely faced one of the most Herculean task in the midst of the world renowned scrabble marksmen and death squad which the Nigerians represented. Other players including the host Ghana had been relegated to the background as the final onslaught kicked off.