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Bobsleigh beauties don't stand a chance

ON THE WORLD STAGE: The Nigerian team at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in South Korea

ANYONE WOULD think that I would be over the moon that Nigeria has got a team in the women’s bobsleigh at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Well, forgive me for groaning rather than jumping up for joy and dancing shakara, but all I can think of right now is, why oh why do we Nigerians have to be the world’s laughing stock. We have become the plonkers of the universe.

I mean, did you hear the one about the Scotsman, the Irishman and the Nigerian who were facing execution by guillotine during the French Revolution? Well, the Scotsman is the first to lay his head on the chopping block to be beheaded.

As the blade of the guillotine falls towards him it jams. And the executioner says, ‘The guillotine has fallen and under French law you are now a free man.’

The Scotsman gets up and goes, relieved that his head is still attached to his torso. The same thing happens to the Irishman and again the executioner says the same words before setting him free. When the Nigerian puts his head on the chopping block he looks up at the guillotine and says to the executioner, “My friend, I think I know what the problem is, why the guillotine is getting stuck.”

Now, that’s not even funny. If the Nigerian had been a Bajan... No, I’m only kidding, but the point is, you can’t stop people bussing jokes can you?

For example, the Tongan representative was the best of the stand-ups at the opening ceremony of Pyeongchang 2018, dressed in a grass skirt and flip flops, like man’s not hot in minus 20 degrees. But it only underlines the point that the South Pacific stands the juxtaposition of a snowball’s chance in hell of winning anything at these Freezing Games.

Similar odds await the Nigeria Fab Four (Seun Adigun, Akuoma Omeoga and Ngozi Onwumere with Simidele Adeagbo in skeleton) who will provide the punchline for these Icy Games. They won’t win anything on the white stuff and may not even pave the way for anything and yet the sporting paparazzi have got their long lenses focused on them as they did on the Jamaican ‘Cool Runnings’ blokes when they qualified for the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988.

Them lot from Jamaica were the butts of so much joke in dem times that Hollywood even made a movie about them to keep the jokes running coolly if you know what I mean. At the time (30 years ago) I thought, typical, there’s always one isn’t there (or three or four) who will always beg to join in the mainstream having failed to beat ‘em over these past four hundred years of bucky massa mentality.

And I ain’t got nothing against that. But beware. If you’re trying to take on a snowman in his culture (not to talk of his climate) you’re gonna get licked like an ice lolly. Every time. Especially when it comes to taking them on in a freezer.

There are a few notable exceptions to that rule. Debi Thomas – world’s best figure skater from the United States was one. The French figure skater was another. Just like my younger daughter, they didn’t feel the cold.

But in general, what part of, ‘black folks don’t perform when it’s cold inna babylon’ do you not understand? Not least because there are few opportunities to go sliding down a winter wonderland in Africa. Not unless you climb all the way to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. And how many of us have done that, eh?

That’s why I say, stay away from dem sports and avoid the frostbite that accompanies it. Didn’t someone not once warn mad dogs and Englishmen to stay out of the noon day sun? We ain’t no mad dogs and we ain’t no Englishmen (not in the Noel Coward sense in any case) so that warning doesn’t apply.

On the contrary, the sunshine loves us, we thrive in it, we come alive in it and every now and then we die peacefully and happily in it. But not in the cold. Nah.

We underperform in the freezing weather. We don’t flourish in the cold, we look undernourished in the cold and never mind man’s not hot, we do not make love as well in the cold as we do in the sun. Nah true, people?

Take the freezing weather we’ve been having here in these parts over the last couple weeks. Now, you know I’m the kinda guy who goes around collecting stats on how many black people are out on the streets of Britain at any one time and, I tell you, I couldn’t count more than a handful on two hands during the recent big freeze. It’s like we vanish indoors when the arctic cold sets in. And who can blame us?

Having said all that Seun, Akuomo, Ngozi and Simidele are my girls. They are gorgeous. And what part of ‘they are putting African beauty on the map where it’s supposed to be’ do you not understand? They are rocking their beauty like the Ife princess Adetutu Ademiluyi (Princess Tutu as we know her) rocked her beauty in the iconic 1974 painting by Nigeria’s greatest artist Ben Enwonwu.

That painting was lost for decades and just showed up the other week in some flat in north London and is now being sold at auction. Everybody wants to buy it, because it’s the original of the copy that hangs in nearly every other Nigerian home. It is our equivalent of that black woman in the afro that featured in every ‘West Indian’ living room back in the 70s. Princess Tutu is our Mona Lisa. Arguably the most beautiful black woman ever. And our girls in South Korea are showing that beautiful legacy of Tutu at these Winter Olympics.

But let’s not fall into the trap of believing the impossible, that they will actually win something. It’s not going to happen – not in a month of Sundays – I know that, you know that in the bottom of your heart and my Nigerian girls know it too. They are only there to make up the numbers at these ‘white olympics’, irrespective of the snowfall.

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