Players, officials, and key stakeholders across the continent are excited about the new 2023 Pan African Scrabble Association (PANASA) Awards and Recognitions bestowed upon 17 top wordsmiths who distinguished themselves last year in the Scrabble Circuit with their sterling and captivating performances.
The PANASA Awards and Recognitions conferred on the players are in three categories: Grand Masters, Expert, and Most Rated Games.
The continent's voice of total acceptance and approval is echoed in the words of the President of Nigeria Scrabble Federation (NSF), Engineer Toke Aka: “Scrabble Africa is alive, and awards and recognitions like what the Pan African Scrabble Association is giving out to deserving players are what the sport needs, and it will spur the players to strive for excellence.”
Aka, an Executive Committee Member of the World English Scrabble Players Association (WESPA), noted that Africa has come of age in the game of words, and the continent is ready to set the standard for others to emulate.
Six Nigerians and a Kenyan player were honored with the prestigious recognition as Grand Masters.
The winner of the second edition of the West African Scrabble Championship (WASC), a 500-level pharmacy student at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Oluwatimilehin Doko, is among the exceptional players bestowed with the prestigious Grand Masters status.
Prince Osahon Omosefe, a player with multiple National titles and three African Scrabble Championship podium finishes, is very elated with his new status. He stated, “It is a mark of honor to be so appreciated by the governing body of Scrabble PANASA.”
Omosefe, one of the new Scrabble Grand Masters, had his first major national championship outing in April 2003 in Akure, and since then, the Edo State-born Scrabble heavyweight has won numerous events and recently finished fifth at the North America Scrabble Players Association Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
“This award and recognitions by the continental Scrabble body will go a long way in encouraging the players, giving them something to look forward to during the Scrabble circuit,” Prince Osahon Omosefe stated.
Allan Oyende of Kenya is the other player who received the Grand Masters title. Oyende recently won the Scrabble On The Nile Championship in Uganda.
The new seven Grand Masters are Oluwatimilehin Doko - Nig (GM), Prince Osahon Omosefe - Nig (GM), Eta Paul Karo - Nig (GM), John Aiyedun - Nig (GM), Adeyemi Adeosun - Nig (GM), Godwin Victor - Nig (GM), Allan Oyende - Ken (GM).
Again, Nigerian wordsmiths dominated the Expert badge category, with five of them in the fold. Cyril Umebiye, who won the 2023 South West Closed Scrabble Championship in Abeokuta, is one of the five Nigerians to receive the expert badge.
The other players with the Expert badge who are Nigerians are the captain of Team Nigeria to the 2023 West African Scrabble Championship (WASC) in Lagos, Ben Quickpen, National Sports Festival gold medalist Abdulmumin Jimoh, Emmanuel Umujose, and Oshevire Avwenagha, winner of the maiden edition of Governor Douye Diri National Championship.
To get the gold-plated Expert badge, a player must have played 90 or more PANASA-rated games in the year under review and must maintain an average rating between 2000 - 2099 rating points in the year under review.
Two Kenyans, Dr. Michael Gongolo and Gitonga Nderitua, Uganda's Dr. Edgar Odongkara, and Ghanaian Charles Haizel Tachie-Menson, who came 8th at the last World English Scrabble Players Association Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, complete the lineup.
All tournament directors across the continent have been mandated by the continental governing body of the game of words to insert the appellation EXP beside their names on any tournament file. PANASA will replicate the same gesture.
In addition to a Gold-plated EXP badge that will be presented to the recipients, a PANASA customized merchandise hoodie will be given to all winners, while an official presentation of certificates will be done at PANASA's 30th-anniversary ceremony in Freetown.
The full list of winners:
Ben Quickpen - Nig (EXP), Emmanuel Umujose - Nig (EXP), Oshevire Avwenagha - Nig (EXP), Cyril Umebiye - Nig (EXP), Abdulmumin Jimoh - Nig (EXP), Charles Tachie Menson - Gha (EXP), Dr. Michael Gongolo - Ken (EXP), Dr. Edgar Odongkara - Uga (EXP), Gitonga Nderitu - Ken (EXP).
Alvin Roberts from Liberia, who played a total of 221 PANASA-rated games in the year under review, was awarded the Most Rated title. Alvin Roberts goes away with a customized PANASA Pro Scrabble set, a PANASA merchandise Hoodie, and Paid up registration into the next Africa Scrabble Championship (ASC) to be hosted by Sierra Leone in 2024 if he qualifies.
The PANASA Technical Director, Kenya's Chrispine Okeyo, says the CC, GM, EXP appellation added to players' names announced by PANASA takes effect immediately.