Nigeria is the English-speaking world’s Scrabble superpower. Africa’s most populous nation is home not only to the global Scrabble champion, but team Nigeria ranks as the world’s top Scrabble playing nation — ahead of the U.S. in second place.
The Scrabble world champion is Wellington Jighere. He’s 33, has a soft voice, a slow smile and a penchant for fedoras, earning him the nickname “the Cat in the Hat.” Jighere acknowledges that he’s taciturn by nature, but also has an explosive, infectious laugh, though he considers Scrabble is serious business.
“You can’t afford to waste too much energy doing unnecessary chatter,” he says. “During a tournament, I see it as business time. And that is no time to be joking around.” Jighere plays chess to relax, “and for fun,” he says.