STILL remember the day clearly. It was sometime in the recent past and I was in Dar es Salaam Music House. Of the entire city’s business houses, Dar es Salaam Music House was and still is, one of my favourite places.
Every time I happened to be on Samora Avenue since the days it was called Independence Avenue, I would stop by the shop to see what new musical record or some sports equipment it had for me.
But after the eighties, the reasons for my visits there somewhat changed. Whereas they had mostly been to buy some musical instrument as I have said above, I go there today particularly to buy a boxing kit. On this special day I want to talk about – about six or so years ago - I was at the shop for the same purpose.
I wanted to buy a pair of gloves for punching the bag. I used to talk to the shop attendant, a short man - a fellow African I had known for years and I was recently told by the new attendant that the fellow has gone the way of all men - God rest his soul. As he was telling me this, another customer, a man of my height, entered the shop. I can never mistake the stout Mr Harrison Mwakyembe anywhere.
Mr Mwakyembe was apparently in the prime of his health at the time since his nasty health experience he may rightly call the mother of all battles in his life after some imp, a devil’s messenger, tried to end his life with a poison. He asked for a pair of gloves. I was impressed. I usually dislike people with fat bellies whom I consider a bunch of lazybones.
Minister Mwakyembe was not one of them. Indeed he appeared to belong with me in the category of busy bodies that fight obesity with all the seconds they can spare in a gym to burn away their body fat.
“Mr Mwakyembe, you too love punching the bag?” I asked him, startling him somewhat. “Oh, yes, doing that is good for the body,” he said before we exchanged some pleasantries.
If I remember right, Mr Mwakyembe was at the time just an MP and a member of a parliamentary committee he chaired in its investigation of some scandals. While presenting a report of that investigation, Mr Mwakyembe proved that they had done a thorough job.
Since then, Dr Mwakyembe, for that is who he is today, has travelled a long way in the civil service. From being Minister of Communication in the fourth phase government to the nation’s fifth Minister of East African Cooperation before becoming Minister of Constitutional Affairs and Justice and now the Minister of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports.
With his legal and journalistic knowledge, Dr Mwakyembe must therefore be the right person to resurrect the once ambitious athletic spirit previously not so strong in some games.
The boxing game particularly needs a person like Dr Mwakyembe since Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sport is quite in his waters. Surely, I cannot imagine a better place for him. Not that the nation has not fared well under the leadership of other people.
Indeed, the nation has achieved much, given the present performance of Serengeti Boys. However, with his new drive as a sports person, we can do much better. With regard to the boxing game, he is the right person for the ministry.
Boxing, no doubt the nation’s Olympic first born, has for some time had raw deals when its international matches were cancelled. It may be said that somebody in the Ministry of Sports and Culture did not consider it right to intervene to give the boxers a chance where they failed to get sponsorship in international contests. If Dr Mwakyembe has not entered the ring and missed an opponent, he obviously knows how heartbreaking it is to be denied a chance to fight in the ring after training for a long time to fight in a contest.
Our boxers too want a name and pride. They have missed that for a long time. For an umpteenth time I have said that our golden days lie in boxing. That does not mean we forget football or other games. We have many talented youths crying for an enabling environment to prove themselves.
Boxing has already been identified as the nation’s potential sport of glory. Dr Mwakyembe as a strong lover of the game knows what boxers in this country are missing.
There must be some decrepit aspect of the boxing game Dr Mwakyembe, with his innovation, can use to turn around the lackluster boxing state for the good of this game of gentlemen.
In a pragmatic government of Dr Magufuli, we believe a pragmatic Dr Mwakyembe can make sports in the country a truly big employer of the nation’s youth.