Watching the Rio Olympics swimming highlights of a genius that is Michael Phelps winning his 23rd Olympic gold on television on a lazy Sunday, reminded me of my homeboy from Nkhata Bay called Budula who left me a little out of my breath with his swimming skills.
He pinched a big fish called batala from fishermen and as they run after him, Budula took a sudden dip into the lake and after about 10 minutes without his sight, people feared for the worst with many suggesting that the poor fella had probably drowned. But alas! He was spotted in another village a kilometre away, selling the batala to the amazement of his fellow villagers. Given the necessary support and training, can’t this fella compete with the likes of Phelps?
He is not the only one. My house helper Lobeni also shared with me about the exploits of his homeboy Wilifiredi (as in Wilfred) who dazzles onlookers with his diving skills, darting into deep and shallow ends alike of Thuchila River, with bare hands, emerging with any type of fish as he wished.
It, therefore, still baffles me that with water covering 20.6 percent of our country, we are still unable to produce an athlete who can compete for medals at big events like the Olympics and the two that are there—Aamara Pinto and Brave Lifa—are taking part on solidarity.
So, all we can do now is wax lyrical about the Campbell sisters—Cate and Bronty—the Australian swimmers who have hogged the limelight at the global showcase as if they are our very own just because they were born here, that’s how starved we are for success. kufera fungo! In fact had they been black in colour, the jazz would have been probably that “ndi ana apa Mkando pompa apa”.
And while other African athletes are basking in the global limelight by winning medals, sadly our ambassadors such as Caphas Kasteni are making headlines for ‘gate-crashing’ in ‘Samba’ dance or probably taking selfies.
The fact that Aamara was the best African performer was, in itself, a confirmation that she has potential, but how do we expect her to compete against the world’s best when she has no access to modern training facilities and what is it that we are doing to identify and drill potential swimmers in the likes of Budula and Wilifiredi? Just thinking aloud. Uloliwe wayidudula, neng’esiza hah! (oh yes, the train is pushing). Glory be to God