Radio Sandwell African / Caribbean News

Scrabble has first African champion

2015-11-09 21:14:00

Wellington JighereWellington Jighere won the competition after playing 32 rounds of matches in four days

Nigerians have been congratulating countryman Wellington Jighere, who has become the first African to win the English-language World Scrabble Championship.

The 32-year-old beat Englishman Lewis MacKay 4-0 in the final in Australia.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was among those to congratulate him, saying he has "done the country proud".

Mr Jighere said on his Facebook page that he felt he was playing with the "whole continent" behind him.

He added that it "still baffles" him that he managed to win, given how tired he felt as he had "not slept well in about a week".

Scrabble boardWellington Jighere won the final with words like aah, dacoit and ungifted

Wellington Jighere put down:

  • Dacoit - a member of a class of robbers in India and Burma
  • Yow - Australian slang for keeping a look-out
  • Katti - an alternative spelling for a weight used in China
  • Aah - an expression of surprise

Lewis MacKay put down:

  • Jomo - an alternative spelling for zhomo, an animal bred from a yak and a cow
  • Yex - an Old English word for sobbing
  • Guiro - a musical instrument made from a gourd
  • Wemb - an obsolete alternative spelling of womb
  • Onely - an obsolete alternative spelling of only


He told the Guardian newspaper that he had training to deal with the fatigue from the jet lag, but also had to cope with 32 rounds of matches in four days before getting to the final in Perth.

Mr Jighere and the five other members of the Nigerian team only arrived in Australia the day before the tournament started, so had little chance to get over the 20-hour flight or the seven-hour time difference.

Nigerian scrabble teamNigeria was also the best-placed team in the competition

President Buhari phoned him in Perth to "rejoice" with him over the performance and pass on his congratulations to all the players, who finished the competition as the best team.

According to the president's spokesman, Mr Jighere "pledged to bring more glory to his fatherland".

The champion will be coming home with a $10,000 (£6,600) prize but now has to find a job.

He recently finished his national service following his graduation from university, but took a few months off from looking for work in order to prepare for the championship.

Elisee PokaElisee Poka from Ivory Coast won the French-language Scrabble World Champioinship in 2008

President of Nigeria's Scrabble federation Sulaiman Gora told the BBC on the telephone from Nigeria that Mr Jighere is a quiet person whose "greatest strength is humility".

Mr Gora, who also heads the Pan-African Scrabble federation, said that the "whole country and the whole of Africa is celebrating this success".

In 2008, Ivorian Elisee Poka won the French-language Scrabble World Championship and this year Schelick Ilagou Rekawe from Gabon reached the final of that competition. He lost to New Zealander Nigel Richards, who does not speak French.


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