“Gbon,gbon gbon, gba gba…”
This is the closest I can mimic the sound that summoned my feet into a compound inside the Katangowa Market, Ile Epo Oja of Alimosho Local Government, Lagos on a Saturday.
It was the Ganga drum, a two-faced local drum of the Hausa/Fulani that was pulling the magic alongside with some other local drums.
I looked carefully for some seconds until I noticed that there was a man whom I felt I could talk to. He too was standing alone. I hope I wasn’t intruding, I prayerfully thought.
“Good evening sir?”
“The show has ended…” He said.
” What show? …”I asked.
” Wrestling, African wrestling…”
His responses were rapt, yet warm and fatherly.
“When can I come to see this sir?”
” Come again on Sunday, you would see all. Gate fee is ₦100…”
I became more curious. African wrestling? I have seen a couple on the TV but haven’t seen any live one, especially this “kokowa”.
On Sunday, about some minutes past 2 pm, I took off to my newly found zone with the gate pass.
I quickly spotted the man I spoke with the previous day and he was still very warm and welcoming.
“Evening sir, you remember me?..”
“..why not.,” he said.
I could see some guys tilling the ground, making it ready for the wrestle. It has just rained.
He was very ready to answer all of my questionings.
“What is this fight called in your language?”
The fight is called Kokowa, it is not only done in Northern- Nigeria. There are similar shows like this in Senegal, Niger-Republic and he used his hands to sign some other countries he didn’t mention.
Then,he showed me some clips on his Tecno phone.
” Sometimes, I show them through the satellite dish here, pointing to a big dish amongst some banana plantation…” He continued.
Seeing that the wrestling was about to begin, he advised I get some seat.
I took my seat among the already seated spectators, mostly men.
Again, the drum began, and the wrestlers already dressed in their attire of tight briefs and some colourful dangling rope which were tied around their waists came out of their lairs and danced in circle greeting each other with a peculiar pattern of handshake.
It was a very long friendly battle.
In my own opinion, Kokowa isn’t for fame or a trophy, at least the one in this compound but of strength, stamina, and to cheer people after their long busy day.
After the match, I went to meet the man in question.
“Sir, can I come tomorrow and ask you some more questions, I really want to write about this…?”
“Sure, why not…” He smiled.
“Come around 10 am upward, any day and ask of Ibrahim…”
I was glad he scheduled me for an interview. See interview Next
And less I forget, he gave me a free show.