Sunday Dare, Minister of Youths and Sports Development, has written to WikkiTimes, a Bauchi-based newspaper, explaining what his ministry is doing to develop Dembe, a local wrestling is popular in Northern Nigeria.
WikkiTimes had earlier inquired the minister to give an update about his pledge to make Dembe a national sport.
In 2019, Dare pledged to create a national league and also cooperate with the Dambe Sports Association to form a federation for organizing competitions and tournaments across and outside Nigeria. The plans were underway when COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in early 2020.
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“We have a traditional sports Federation,” Dare said in a text sent to WikkiTimes. “Dembe is automatically under Traditional Sports Federation. The Federation was directed to take over and develop Dembe further. That is primary role of all sporting Federations and Dembe cannot be treated differently.”
He, however, advised our reporter to get further details from Federations and Elite Athletes Department (FEAD).
“You can speak with my Department of FEAD on Dembe and related matters,” Dare advised.
But the minister refused to link up this medium to a staff member heading FEAD under the ministry.
Checks on the ministry’s website showed that the department is being headed by a woman, Tayo Oreweme. Further findings revealed she retired from active service three years ago.
WikkiTimes earlier reported how the local wrestling is transforming as women now partake in the sports.
Dambe is dominated by Hausa fisherman and butcher caste groups. The local wrestling developed from clans of these professions travelling to farm villages around harvest time, incorporating a fighting challenge by outsiders into local harvest festivals.
It was also traditionally practised as a way for men to get ready for war, and many of the techniques and terminology allude to warfare.
Today, companies of boxers travel performing outdoor matches accompanied by ceremony and drumming, throughout the traditional Hausa homelands of northern Nigeria, southern Niger and southwestern Chad.