The pioneer Vice-Chancellor of Federal University, Otuoke in Bayelsa, Prof. Mobolaji Aluko, has urged Nigerians to engage in “Ayo Olopon”, a traditional board game, to improve their mental alertness.
“Ayo Olopon” is a game mostly played and enjoyed by the Yoruba ethnic group in Nigeria for fun and intelligence.
It is otherwise known as “Awele”. It consists of 12 holes and 48 seeds (small stone like objects). In the game box, there are six holes on each side which contains four seeds each.
Aluko, a Professor of Chemical Engineering, made the plea at the “Ayo Olopon” Competition in the ongoing 34th Edition of the National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST) in Ekiti.
The theme of the festival, which started on Nov. 14 is: “Celebrating National Unity in Diversity”.
According to him, the traditional board game is a geometrical game that tasks the brain, urging Nigerians to engage in it to boost their mental capability.
“I play Ayo, Draft and Chess. Ayo, specifically is a mathematical game that improves mental alertness.
“I urge you all to engage in it to boost your brain capability,” Aluko said.
Earlier, Chief Olusegun Runsewe, the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), organiser of the festival, urged Nigerians to reawaken their consciousness on what made the nation relevant in the ancient times.
Runsewe said that embracing the local traditional games like “Ayo Olopon”, just as it was embraced in the past, was quite important.
He said that this was necessary to enable Nigerians to think critically and allow them to proffer solutions to the national problems.
“Our major challenge in this country is that we don’t value ourselves, our culture and our values; ‘Ayo Olopon’ is an aspect of our culture we must not jettison.
“Our fathers picked two items to unite the nation which are sports and culture.
“Culture is capable of uniting us, and I want you to know that what unites us is more and greater than those things that divide us.
“Please believe that nothing can divide this country; it will remain same, people from 25 different states are here, let us believe in the country and stay together,” he said.
Earlier, Mrs Peju Babafemi, the Head of Service in Ekiti, said he was brought up to love the game, adding that it had enhanced his mental capacity.
“I am a fan of the game; I was brought up to love the game and I know it enhances one’s mental capacity and very relaxing,” Babafemi said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 10 states participated in the game: Bayelsa, Delta, Ekiti, Lagos, Rivers, Ogun, Ondo, Nasarawa, Niger and the Federal Capital Territory.
The results of the winners would be announced during the closing ceremony of the programme on Saturday.