Monday, 22 March 2010

Men who stare at (fighting) goats

Well, Ram's actually. The annual National Ram Fighting competition, organized by the Ram Lover's Association of Nigeria, is currently in progress near the national stadium in Lagos. Very excited to have been a part of the Semi Finals, which saw the likes of AK47 take on Sledgehammer. Obama, the winner of the last two years, was not around any more. I've been told by the Grandfather of Ram Fighting that he has since been retired.

Ram fighting, when you see it, seems perfectly natural. There are no red colours or jeers to get the beasts excited. They see each other and want to run at each other; simple. The winner is the one who intimidates his opponent most - who then runs away. If he has not been able to do so for 40 headbangs, the match is a draw.

The finals are to be held on April 11th. The day will also see other traditional African sports. In discussion with the Grandfather it turns out that none of those sports, which include local varieties of wrestling and one-legged running, are conducted during the African Games, which see only Olympic disciplines. Seems to me that despite all the quirkiness of this particular events this kind of activity carries more significance if viewed in the general context of a threatened African culture.

 Ram's locking heads

Sledgehammer on the way to the court

Stewards of the Ram Lover's Association

UPDATE: Will published this piece in the Wall Street Journal.

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