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AFCON 2024: May This Banter Never Die

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Photo Credit: @ng_supereagles/Instagram

The social media sphere in Nigeria right now is a vibe. Nigerians have gone giddy with excitement when the Super Eagles made the entire country super proud after beating South Africa’s Bafana Bafana by 4 goals to 2 in a penalty shoot-out.  

One thing I love about Nigerians is our inability to be humble when we win a competition. See ehn, it felt like a loss when South Africa went home with the Grammy award, in a category that had 5 Nigerian nominees. So it is no surprise that Nigerians are taking this win against South Africa quite personally.

It is an open secret that Nigerians love their football. From the dusty streets of small villages to the well-lawned pitches of stadiums in the cities, the love for the sport permeates every corner of the country. But the most amazing part of football in Nigeria is how moments like this bring us all together – irrespective of our tribe, religion or gender. For ages, sports, particularly football, have played a remarkable role in fostering national unity across the country. Take, for instance, the 1994 and 2013 African Cup of Nations, where Nigeria emerged victorious. The tournament brought people together from all corners of the nation to rally behind the Super Eagles. Their triumph not only united Nigerians but also instilled a profound sense of national pride, that still resonates within us today. 

The win against South African’s Bafana Bafana is no different. The entire country went agog with celebration, social media went into a frenzy, neighbours were congratulating one another and people joined in the jubilation from every part of the country. And the best of it all? The banter! 

Look, Nigerians are a typical depiction of the phrase “you can’t shame the shameless.” We know we are grappling with a lot of challenges. Inflation is eating deep into our pockets and the lack of electricity makes us sweat – see what I did there? We are all very familiar with bad roads, corrupt leaders, and unemployment. Yet, amidst all of these challenges, you see this win, this hard-earned victory that the Super Eagles have bestowed upon us – amidst pacing upandan in front of the TV, clutching our chests to prevent our hearts from popping out due to hypertension and excitement,  and hands lifted to the heavens for divine help – we will embrace and celebrate it fervently. We’ll cling to it steadfastly and not gree for anybody. We will even drag anybody who wants to shame us for it. We will even banter ourselves first so that any attempt to shame us ends in futility. 

So imagine my reaction when someone said “You think it’s by good governance” in a bid to banter South Africans?

Now, now, how do you clap back to this kind of tweet? See? And then when South Africans tried to clap back on multiple occasions, Nigerians united in good vibes and positive energy to banter them. Honestly, you cannot win people who have no shame, haha. 

Now, imagine the icing on the cake: a good government, consistent electricity, adequate security, and no cause to japa for greener pastures. Even the simplest joy, like a pack of coaster biscuits returning to 8 pieces instead of 3. Our shoulder pads will reach the sky, and we’ll become insufferable on social media, banter-wise. E go too choke!

On a serious note, our banter after every win brings me immense joy, not just for the reasons mentioned above, but because we deserve every moment of joy amid so much negative news. The togetherness, unity and celebration are beautiful to witness and the momentary suspension of our indifference is a sight for sore eyes. And as I go through numerous tweets, laughing my head off, I say a tiny prayer: that we bring the trophy home; that laughter and unity never cease in our country; that this banter never ends.

One more thing, before I go, as Valentine approaches, I hope your heart is in the hands of a lover who can save well like Nwabali.

'Fúnmilọ́lá is a statistician by certificate and a writer by heart. She believes that every one is a walking story waiting to be told and in that, she finds her inspiration. She has a strong conviction in the power of Words and Faith and is currently on a journey to finding herself. She's available on the following platforms: Twitter: @eniitan_ Instagram: @eniitan1 Email Address: [email protected]

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