{Insert this for alternative ending; skip for romantic reading}

[“Hello Mummy, I just won 2 million naira!” That was the phone call I wished I could be making right now. How did I come to leave the studio with less than what I had hoped for? ]

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The puzzling nature of the question for 2 million naira was knee weakening. If I were standing, I would have requested a chair. But now, I slumped backwards in my seat as I was asked the country in the world without official lyrics for its national anthem. Was it Spain? Trinidad and Tobago? Germany? Or Sweden? Somehow I recognized the three countries that stood out because they were in Europe. They had also been in the World Cup. Surely when the players had to sing their anthems before any match those European players must have had words to mouth. So it was looking like Trinidad and Tobago. However, I knew at this high level the questions would not submit to regular brain processes. Somehow this seemed like a question to call my Uncle at home for. Surely someone with a Ph.D in History would be definite about this. So I opted for my last lifeline.

As soon as Uncle Tolu heard the question, he was excited. His answer was Spain. Spain?! The country that won the last World Cup had no official national anthem?! Hmmmmm. But for his certainty I would not have imagined that! But after I confirmed my answer, Femi said I was right!

The applause of the crowd was of such a level that I knew that contestants hardly ever had a run as good as this. My heart was still beating but now I was relaxed, smiling sheepishly and unable to believe my good fortune. However, it all could be lost on the next question. I had just 2 more questions to the final prize of 10 million. Surely I wouldn’t go that far! Or would I? My inner questions were answered ironically by the next question.

In order to win 5 million naira I had to state which city was not a capital of South Africa. The options were Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bloemfontein. Wait?! Was this question which city was the capital? Or which wasn’t a capital? Like did South Africa, the host of the last World Cup, REALLY have 3 capitals?! Oh wow! What was it with me and the World Cup? Was all this because I put football as one of my hobbies?!

No. No, no, no! I would not answer this question. My heart failed me. I would have chosen Bloemfontein but this was for 5 million. The answer could be anything. So I chose to walk away.

My choice to walk away was supported by the crowd who seemed as bewildered as I was. The silence that fell on the studio audience was ten times greater than any of the previous pauses. I knew they were all willing me to escape with my millions while I could. I started laughing again as Femi tried to persuade me to try. I shook my head and dramatically stretched out my hand for my check. A million in hand, sorry 2 million, was worth more than the billions floating out there in the world.

{Alternative ending}

Was it because I had put football as one of my hobbies?! I recognized 3 cities there: Pretoria, definitely from my South African apartheid movies and documentaries; Johannesburg, the Sun city and possibly the most popular city in Africa after Lagos; and Cape Town, which was a faint primary school memory of a capital city. So it had to be Bloemfontain. I had never heard of this city and definitely none of the other three could be knocked out.

With a deep sigh, I picked Bloemfontain as my final answer. Another commercial break was called. It seemed like an eternity of agony before Femi finally announced the answer.

I had failed it!!! The answer was Johannesburg. Femi explained that Cape Town was the legislative capital, Pretoria was the administrative capital and Bloemfontain, my choice, was the judicial capital. I was deflated. My millions sprouted wings of biblical proportions and flew off to the heavens without waving goodbye. I was now left with my 250, 000. Just enough money for 2 iPads. Back to square one so it seemed. Femi urged the crowd to applaud my bravery in hearing the 5 million naira question and failing it. That felt like a cold wet blanket over my shivering soul. While I was escorted off the stage, Femi began announcing the questions for the audience participation and home play for TV viewers. I suddenly became conscious of a dull physical ache in my chest. My millionaire quest had just come to a very disappointing and bitter end.