Yesterday was a great day in my life and the lives of the people and visitors in the town of Wasimi. It was a free day for the young football players participating in the 2019 edition of the ongoing annual football pilgrimage – the Wasimi Youth Summer Football championship. The day was, therefore, organised to kick-start my international assignment as Champion of NCDs on behalf of the NCD Alliance a partner of the WHO, an organization investing in creating awareness and affirmative action in the prevention and reduction of the incidences of non-communicable diseases in Nigeria and across the African continent.
What a day it turned out to be.
The Crown Troupes of Africa, a Lagos-based dance and drama ensemble led by actor, dancer and choreographer, Segun Adefila who volunteered to perform free of charge in support of the campaign, opened the event with a fascinating dance and drama musical sketch that held everyone spellbound for the 20 minutes it lasted. The sketches told various short stories about the ills in various sectors of society, ending with a call for coming together in unity to make the country work again. They did sketches on health, agriculture, youths, media, sports, politics, and so on. It set the stage for the rest of the morning. Thereafter, it was my turn to start my international campaign from my home village before my own people and a large youth audience from the sports constituency and visiting friends. There was of a large number of journalists from various media organisations at the event. My speech was very short and very simple.
My intention was to make the message simple enough for the children and locals to understand and identify with. NCDs may sound sophisticated and foreign, but they are common diseases doing a lot of harm even amongst the locals. One in every five, according to research findings and figures, may be afflicted with any one of Hypertension, Diabetes, Cancer, Respiratory diseases, even Obesity. They are all silent killers. The prevalence of these diseases can be reduced and prevented by the simple but regular acts of physical activities including sports, exercises, walking, dancing, cycling, jogging, working on the farm, and any form of physical activity. The thing NOT to do is to live a sedentary life, sitting down for long periods without physically engaging the body enough.
The reward for this simple prescription added to a simple lifestyle of good organic foods from the farms, and a lifestyle away from the pressures of urban life, is a healthier, happier and longer life! That’s why the theme of the campaign is about moving the body for the reward of a longer life. Hence, Just Move – Live Longer. I told the participants at the football championship to applaud themselves for being already on course to a longer life. All they need in addition to their sport is to sustain their relationship with active physical activity in sport or exercise into adulthood, with my life as a good example.
Exercise and a lot of physical exercise are the cheapest and the easiest ways of preventing several NCDs. My message was followed by a short period of ball juggling by selected boys and girls from the football championship which ends next weekend. Tomorrow night promises to be an unforgettable evening for the participants who would walk the 5-kilometre distance to and from Lemo Village, east of Wasimi, for a night of bonfires, feasting, cultural performances, music and dancing in the village, at the invitation of the Baale, the traditional head of the village, who is using the presence of this army of children from different parts of the country visiting the environment for the first time, to open up his remote village deep in the backwaters of Ogun State.
We shall be sending our cameras to record and bring the pictures to all on this platform.
I was not done for the day. I went to the campus of SOCA to meet with a group of youths from all over the country who paid to spend their summer break in the Paradise of SOCA for two weeks. The boys and girls were staying on the campus under the strictest supervision for the 2019 SOCA Summer Youth Camp, a sport, social and leadership engagement programme that takes place there annually. The students are having the time of their lives with activities of all kinds stretching through the day and evenings in a ceaseless flow of fun and friendship. They are participating in the Wasimi football championship. It is this group that I chose to make my young ambassadors, to join me in taking the message of NCDs to their homes, their schools and their communities around the country. Some friends accompanied me to the school campus – Ogun FA Chairman, Gani Majekodunmi, and members of the tennis section of Abeokuta Sports Club, Leke Bada and Kehinde Oladeinde, amongst others. Those of them visiting SOCA for the first time were blown by the serenity of the environment, the well-manicured lawns and lush greens, the exotic trees, plants and beautiful flowers all around. The Rufus Orisayomi Bamboo Court, named after my late friend who designed it, was the centre point. Everyone that visits SOCA is made to experience that truly special enclosure for relaxation and cultural performances. Segun Adefila and his Crown African Dance and Drama Troupe took one long look at the place, fell to its beauty, and could not resist the temptation of getting his troupe to do a special performance for the lucky campers.
So, we repeated the sequence of dance-drama sketches, followed by my message. In the end, I had my first set of young student volunteers to become ambassadors of the ‘Just Move – Live Longer’ Campaign. All the action from both locations in Wasimi is captured in pictures and video by my friends Uncle TK and Kunle Oladeinde. They can be viewed at the www.mathematical7.com website from tonight. Do not miss it.