I finally found my way back to Ibrahim Ahmed, ex-kokowa wrestler, age undisclosed, a Northerner, and owner of the compound(where the wrestling takes place in Katangowa, Ile Epo Lagos).
A few minutes past 10 am, I carried my backpack for the scheduled interview. This was on a Tuesday.
I had scribbled a few questions and constantly cross-checked if the questions were sufficiently enough and most importantly if they were the right questions.
At exactly 30 minutes past 10 am in his compound, it all looked very calm, except for the rosters and guinea fowls who were crowing in a section of the compound.
I looked and greeted some men who sat underneath a tree and after the pleasantries, I asked for Mr. Ibrahim.
Shocked, they didn’t seem to know him by that name. So, I was left to look for him or wait till someone who knows him comes.
“Hello sir”, I called, noticing a standing man whose rearview looked exactly like his.
The standing man turned and it was him.
“Hey, my friend!”
“It took you so long!”
“(Smiles) No sir, It’s just Tuesday. We saw on Sunday.”
“Please sit, just a minute.”
This he said as he continued to chop the wing of a dressed chicken inside a medium aluminum pot.
I used this period to run through my questions again, to find out if something was missing.
After some minutes, he came to sit where I was.
“What exactly do you want to know?” Folding his arms and trying to peer into my notes.
“Just a few questions about the wrestling.”
“Oh, it’s okay.”
Money on the ground
Why was money placed on the ground during the game?
Yes, that money is for who falls the other. The money is a bet. It’s like betting, just like boxing. And the winner takes the money, then he goes around and they dash them more money. Then, both wrestlers would share it, but the winner takes the bigger share.
The game, is it particularly for the Hausas, pardon, Northerners?
No, we have Ibo, Yoruba, and many tribes. It is not only for the Northerners. Anybody that wants to fight can join.
Music and Drum
All through the game, the drummers kept beating their drums, why was that. ..?
Emmmh, …. You see, the drums and music are to attract. You know, when there is no drum, people will not know what’s going on here and will not come from outside.
All that came to watch the wrestling were males are females not interested or they don’t …
(Interrupts), Females use to come. Now it is the farming season. They have all gone to the farm… Even that day, I saw like four from outside…We even have men and women coming all the way from Apapa, Ikeja to come and see the game.
So, are there female wrestlers in this Kokowa game?
Yes, but I haven’t organized them. One told me, that she has an interest. I want them many, so I can gather them, and make arrangements to pay for their transport.
New and intending wrestler
Okay… What can I or anyone do to partake in the Kokowa wrestling?
If you have the strength you can join. You know practice makes a man perfect… It’s like school, you go, you learn … When they are doing it, you stand and look at it. Ibo, Yoruba, and many tribe practices before they can be perfect. You can not wake up and start doing what you haven’t done before. My wrestlers have their training days, when you come, I tell them you want to fight, then they teach you the moves.
Since you are the leader of this group and the owner of the compound, do you know a little about the game?
(Smiles) Yes, I know how to do it, but now I can’t. I only take care of them and invite them.
As an ex-wrestler, do you have any favorite wrestler?
I have them many, but they haven’t come…Some are in the village wrestling in Kano, Sokoto… They go around for competition… I invite them and pay before they come.
The beauty of touring new or old places is the discovery of some amazing things in the city, state, or region visited.
And touring Katangowa, I got to see a man who has brought a part of his cultural form of entertainment, Kokowa, to an entirely different location. And aside for the business arm, it is re-shaping the ill-comment of the area.
And on a final note, should someone say the area is bad and has nothing good or fun except the market, then, there is the need to see the beautiful Kokowa wrestling, which not only ignites unity and friendship but also entertains all and sundry.
See kokowa Previous
Venue: Ibrahim Ahmed’s House located in Katangowa, Ile Epo Lagos.