AFRICAN TOPS FRENCH IN ONE ON ONE SCRABBLE TOURNEY w/ pix of Elisee Poka
Jul. 29 (GIN) - An African player bested French wordsmiths for the third year in a row in the one-on-one duel at the Francophone World Scrabble Championship.
"We have far less means than the French players," says Elisee Poka, who as a child in Côte d'Ivoire made his own Scrabble set out of wood because he couldn't afford a store-bought one. "But we keep on beating them." Poka is this year's winner of the francophone tournament.
"French is not my mother tongue. I taught myself French when I was in my teens," says Senegalese player Amar Diokh, 53, who clinched the one-on-one title from a Frenchman last year. "So I can't help but feel enormous pride to be able to beat the French in their own language."
The tournament held in Dakar, Senegal's capital, drew over 500 participants from around 20 French-speaking countries. More than half the countries represented are African.
"I feel joy to know that not only have I mastered French -- a language that isn't mine," said Joseph Kouassi, 27, of the Ivory Coast, "but that our African words are helping enrich the French language".