Baraka Sadick and basketball: Why is Africa’s best scorer unnoticed

14Jul 2021
Michael Eneza
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Baraka Sadick and basketball: Why is Africa’s best scorer unnoticed

HOW far there is little enthusiasm for sports and games, apart from soccer, at the local level was towards end of last week underlined in a radio interview hosting Baraka Sadick, who is apparently a relative of Hasheem Thabeet (the way the name is written in the United States), and is his comparison

Dar es Salaam's junior basketball players feature in drills at Jakaya Kikwete Youth Park's court recently. PHOTO: CORRESPONDENT JUMANNE JUMA

Sadick cited a series of honours that have come his way since joining competitive basketball way back in 2009, and his more recent achievements in the past two or three years including emerging Africa’s best scorer in the game.

Those of us, who had doubted his other ambitions, started to believe him.

In short, the basketball star, who can scarcely be said to be noticeable in the city of Dar es Salaam, was of the view that had basketball been receiving more attention than it has usually done locally, he could have found a way to places like Senegal and then the US.

Some of us who prefer modesty to pomposity, or are tuned to noticing it in others, began wondering whether each good basketball player should be dreaming of a stint in the US, as that appeared to relate to the usual ‘hazardous journeys’ phenomenon.

But when he listed his achievements, especially top scorer in the whole continent, the credibility of his story was vivid.

The player for instance explained how in past days, regulars in teams like Pazi, Oilers and others were well known, and were sure of making a living on the game, which is scarcely the case these days.

There is a way in which this sharply contrasts with the soccer scene, where top players in the past were amateurs but they are now professionals, while those in basketball, whose chances of making a living on the game were comparable to those in soccer at that time, are now virtually incapable of subsisting on the game, while their game ranking mates in football become millionaires. This situation is also true of music, etc.

What looks like a queer situation in games and sports is actually an engendered phenomenon in society, of the 20 years of inflationary trends from 1974 to 1994, the thinning out of the basic minimum wage and its inability to keep its rank with commercial (competitive) wages for certain professions.

Athletic ability to survive was harmed by the lower capacity of the same to attract paying viewers, who had to economize their earnings to attend soccer matches foremost, while basketball and others could hardly find someone who can purchase jerseys.

Pitch building was out of reach, with those existing paling, one after another.

The most important source of nurturing talent was schools, but in the 1980s there was hardly anything extracurricular in nature being done in schools but ‘learning’ how to farm, and actually producing school food, and waking early for a run, then fall asleep in class.

It was a wasted decade until later second phase reforms and multiparty restored a sense of professionalism, but the budgeting still remained low as the new ethos had way to go before it could restore a sense of balance.

Reforms have enabled sports to do so much better in the following decades, but that original imbalance was never changed; darkness still rules.

To be sure, pundits regularly keep the public informed of activities in these areas, the other sports and games apart from soccer, but they find it hard to reach ‘top of the charts’ mention, as people lost the will or interest to follow what happens there.

Not that there aren’t several thousand assiduous stakeholders in basketball, hockey, judo, swimming, athletics, boxing etc. – but only the latter has something approaching popular appeal, as it is a one man show with a macho intonation, where a certain boxer is now ‘King of the Zaramo tribe,’ perhaps replacing King Majuto or someone else. The latter came from entertainment.

At present there is a new ethos building up where talent is being pursued at the ministerial level on the basis of the need to find own means of eking out a living after school, without asking youths to just go to some village as they surely won’t.

Still, what the professionals under the curriculum bodies are talking about is really about basic woodwork, electrical technician or building, and hardly were sports and games being raised as part of what schools can do.

Nor were arts and entertainment part of what was being hotly debated, as the middle aged higher degree holders are thinking of good certificates for ‘self-employment,’ not all sorts of talent to help youths find opportunities in life. ‘The beautiful ones are not yet born,’ right?

Still, with greater liberties being extended to the private sector, this line of public relations activity will be reborn, as earlier it was the military which had the capacity for at least two sports-oriented academies, Jitegemee and Makongo.

We saw during the continental U-17 soccer tourney of an academy in far off Karatu having the right facilities.

Let us hope for the best as regards other sports being sponsored too.

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