Nigerians have been congratulating countryman Wellington Jighere, who has become the first African to win the English-language World Scrabble Championships. 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”. He told the Guardian newspaper that he had training to deal with the fatigue from the jet lag, but also had to cope with 31 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. 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”. Mr Jighere will be coming home with a $10,000 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.