The Super Eagles’ victory at Atlanta ’96 Olympics remains one of Nigeria’s historical milestones. Some Nigerians shared their memories of the excitements that trailed the victory back home in their neighbourhood with ABAH ADAH
Reflections By Some Nigerians
Coach Danlami Joseph: Rapturous jubilation
I was in New Nyanya here at the time. I could recall the rapturous jubilation that trailed the match in our street as Nigeria took the day. People were dancing about. Even in the hall where we watched that match, precisely on August 3, 1996, it was something else.
Television was stolen
The very television set we used to watch the match in group was stolen during the jubilation, and no one knew what was happening. People were gyrating, and everybody was dancing. We pray for such glory for the country again.
It inspired unity; no religion, no tribe
One significant thing was that nobody bothered about religion or tribe or anything else. People were celebrating together as one. A woman would stand up and hug a man she never knew. Some people were even hugging their enemies. It was awesome. All that happened because the expectation from that competition was so high. People lost sleep to watch all the matches, including the final, which were played during unholy hours of the night, and early hours of the day. So when we won against the bigger football nations, it was gratifying that the sleeplessness was not in vain after all.
Elder Gidado Dan Galadima: Undiluted joy
I was in Mararaba then. It was an atmosphere of undiluted joy in my neighbourhood immediately after that match with Brazil.
People celebrated with team spirit like the players
The boys played with team spirit to win and in the same spirit, Nigerians back home celebrated the victory. People were so united in celebration, there was Christian or Moslem or pegan. People were hugging each other, not minding where they were from. I wish that glory would return to Nigeria.
Comrade Ademola Paul Adewale: It was celebration galore from final blast of whistle
I am a Lagosian but I find myself working in Abuja now, that is why I am here. In our in Agege, especially in my family house, it was celebration galore from the final blast of the whistle, I can recall.
The street was agog as people kept awake
Because people’s interest in that game was very high, even though it was played in the middle of the night, everybody kept wake. The street was agog. Every television was brought outside because there was heat and no light. So people had to put their generators and use extension wires to power their TVs outside.
The Joy in my family knew no bound
The joy in my family alone knew no bound after Nigeria won the match, particularly because Emmanuel Amunike started from Nigerlock FC, and my father was privileged to be the assistant team manager. To me he was like a brother and to all of us in the family he was like our own. So for him scoring those two goals was like wao; we have done it in Agege again. Everybody was rejoicing, jubilating and shouting for joy.
Beer Parlours gave out drinks for free
We had about three beer parlours in our street that were giving out free drinks for about 2 hours. We need more of such moments that unite Nigerians more than anything else.
Solomon Manasseh: We marched out, shouting for joy till dawn
Then I was in Lagos. I can remember vividly that there was one TV station called TBS, and after the match we all ran to the station, shouting shouts of joy throughout the night till dawn. People brought their car out and we drove round and round in celebration. People brought out drinks for others to share. So you see drinks and food coming from nowhere.
Why it was so exciting
It was exciting. People were so mad because Brazil and Argentina were two renowned football nations that one would least expect the Nigerian team to beat them the way they did at the semi-final and the final respectively.
Emmanuel Ochaja: I wish I could replay the scene again and again
Ooh! When I flash back to Atlanta ’96, back then I was in my village, I wish I could replay the scene again and again. Right from the blast of the final whistle, it was outburst of joy and celebration everywhere.
People went from house to house with shouts of joy
You know how the village is; people gathered in groups to watch in houses that had television set, and after the match, people were going round from house to house with shouts of joy. Our village square was agog as people were shaking hands and sharing eatables.
It was Jubilation for three days
There was jubilation for three days; people could hardly sleep. That was the experience.