Tuesday, 2 June 2009
The voice of reason and dedicated scholar of the game in the form of one Ernest Okonkwo who, had he been a native American, would have been called "he-who-spoke-the-truth-in-colour ". The man was just that = a man among boys in comparison to other commentators that the Federal broadcasting house seemed to churn out just like termites from a mound - no insult intended. He will probably be best remembered in my mind for blending us all, former foes and suspicious cousins, into one, namely Nigerians as the nation groaned and wept with him in the agony of an own goal, when he lamented "oh noooooooo Nigeria has scored Nigeria". That one critical moment probably did more in terms of healing and bringing us closer as a nation than anything else in that decade. In our sorrow very much like the space shuttle disaster later on in the United States, we were suddenly unified in pain. If this is not the case please tell me of just one other event that even came close to solidifying us as this one did!
Ernest Oknwkwo was as "user friendly" as computer keyboard in braille and added spice to almost everything he covered or touched. He created and made the nicknames "Mathematical" for Segun Odegbami, "Chief Justice" for Adokiye Amasiemeka and "Chairman" for Christian Chukwu...household names. He was to Nigerian football at a most critical time, what Howard Cosell was to boxing, Dick Vitale to College basketball or Keith Jackson to American rules college football, namely the voice of impartiality and pure athletic competition. Nothing more nothing less. The Al Michaels of Africa...Sir Ernest would not take no shit either (pardon my French or should I say American)...No Sir not Lord Ernest! - and yes he would let you know in no uncertain terms that same afternoon if he thought that either a team or an individual player's performance was sub par. To ad to his most unique style he also coined unsurpassed new football terms in any of the many native languages used frequently from his vast arsenal. Just ask the then Calabar Rovers and the then team members should still be able to tell you the meaning of the word "dive...in at least 10 tounges - thanks to his honor, who took gross offense to a flop in the 18 by a Rover forward (name withheld on request). A lackless Rangers team got to feel the wrath of his golden tounge during an attempt to run out the clock, and advance on the merit of a 0-0 tie against the Police of Senegal. He blasted their tactic and called their "give-me-I-give-you-trouble-come-Okala" mode of play boring and inept.
Culled from "The Anchorman That Could" - Iwedi Ojinmah