Why ikwerremen do not believe in signing autographs

PictureJohn Fashanu at Wimbledon in the 90s

China Acheru
In the early 90s, I was a student at the University of Port Harcourt and I visited Lagos on my own for the first time in my adult life.
I remember one of those long vacation holidays from school between 1991 and 1993… I’m not so sure which it was now, but I was in Lagos again to hang out with my friends from school.
I remember that trip very well as my childhood friend (from secondary school), Charles Campbell invited us over to spend the holidays at his bunk in Yaba.
We made that trip with another friend from secondary school, Tonye Briggs who had spent time in Lagos while in primary school before moving back to Port Harcourt for secondary school and university.
Now this story is funny, but true and I guess that is why Ikwerremen do not do autographs… anymore.
In one of our outings that summer, we visited the Lekki Beach and just hung around enjoying the scenery until we saw something that caught our attention aside the semi naked Lagos girls trying to prove to their mates, “I can get ‘naked-er’ than you”
That was the era of the Lekki Sunsplash musical fiesta that we had heard of from Port Harcourt but never had the chance to attend.
No, we still did not attend it that year but we visited Lekki beach anyway.
Well, we sighted Nigerian born English striker, John Fashanu cooling off after a hectic, though successful season for Wimbledon FC.
I will be very shocked if John Fashanu ever gets to read this story and remember it but it will be good to see the expression on his face when I tell him in person.

It was around the period he had his best ever at goal scoring run Wimbledon, ending with twenty goals to finish 2nd on the goal scorers’ chart in England.
But I digress as I usually do.
He was surrounded by a bevy of girls who committed everything from indecent exposure to “touching body” but we just sat back and waited for the crowd to clear… if it was ever going to clear out.
At some point some of the girls suggested that John Fashanu sign autographs on their body parts, from their butts to their breasts and arms, but we just watched on.
The ink he used to write on their chests, a little above their crotch, arms and cleavage would wash out eventually, but I was so sure those girls knew and wanted more than just the autographs.
When the crowd around him had cleared up a bit, we walked up to Fashanu and exchanged pleasantries with him but he apparently thought we were like the rest of the people around who came to associate with a “fine boy” so we cleared his doubts.
I immediately asked after Vinny Jones, his hard man team mate who got into quite a few fights in the league.
We also asked after Robbie Earle and some other team mates of his.
We didn’t just stop there, but we began to discuss with him some notable moments in the league that season, goals he scored, incidents on and off the pitch and by this time he knew we knew our football.
I remember asking him why Wimbledon FC was called the Crazy Gang, then I asked him why he did not play for Nigeria and I still remember the answer he gave me.
Cable TV was a rarity in Nigeria at the time and anyone who knew so much football must have really been a fan of the league and gone out of their way to follow it.
That was us and I’m sure we impressed Fashanu.
Fashanu soon “abandoned” his bevy of girls and focused on us and we had a nice time chatting with him.
When we were through, we decided to act like we had seen on TV and request for autographs from him.
He asked us where we wanted him to sign and I took out my wallet, got out a photo and he wrote on it, “I love you China, Fash The Bash
My friends did same and we left the beach that day feeling on top of the world.
I couldn’t wait to get back to school for first semester of the new session and show my friends the autographed photo from John Fashanu.
And that’s why I stopped believing in autographs
I got back to school, The University of Port Harcourt and the first time we gathered, I told some of my friends that I met John Fashanu in Lagos.
“Lies!” one of them retorted. “You think you can just come here and lie to us?” he continued.
I protested that it was true and another one went, “So just because you went to Lagos you want to come and lie to us that you saw Fashanu? Bloody Liar!” he sounded pained.
I quickly brought out my wallet and showed him the picture with Fashanu’s message behind and he looked at me pitifully, not impressed at all that I wanted to scam him.
He took out a piece of paper and wrote on it, “I love you China, Fash the Bash” and showed it to me saying, “Is it not the same thing? How are we sure that you didn’t write this thing yourself and claim it was written by Fashanu? What’s the proof?
Truth be told, I had none. I didn’t bother to take a picture with him even though there were lots of photographers at the Lekki Beach.
I looked at this guy and hated him… but he was right. There is no way I could prove I was with John Fashanu and that was the day I told myself that the idea of superstars signing autographs was rubbish.
Pose for a photograph with the person and no one would doubt you.
Well, I don’t know if every ikwerreman has bought into this philosophy, but after reading this, you should.
The gallery below shows my substitute for autographs. This one is full proof. No one will doubt.

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