‘It has always been a sporting Zanzibar’

JUDO in Zanzibar is more advanced than in many other parts of East Africa.


BENEFITING from sports or athletics generally is like working with a computer. You get out of the machine what you put into it.

In its professional slang, the saying is, “Garbage in, garbage out.” That is what happens with sports. If you ignore it, it will ignore you.

Apparently, in our country we have ignored, or pretended to mind it while in fact we do ignore a big part of it.

And despite the abundance of young, healthy blood, we have not had much from sports. Occasionally, we have previously had some silver lining here and there as we did in 1974 when Filbert Bayi won a gold medal in 1,500 metre race in Christchurch, New Zealand during the Commonwealth Games.

Bayi went on to win the country’s first Olympic medal six years later in Moscow alongside Suleiman Nyambui, another athlete who did the nation proud when he won a silver in the 5,000 metre race in the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.

Zanzibar is not playing the ignore-game that has cost the nation international pride and denied its youth ideal physical pleasure and economic gains. In January this year, a British firm Pennyroyal Gibraltar built a state of the art golf course.

The other day it was announced the Isles were building a couple of courses for sports events. Such dedication is what decisive investment in sports means.

It is the same Zanzibar that kept the whole continent at a bay when it launched the first colour television while at the same being the first in East African state to lay a tartan at Amaan Stadium, once the most immaculate stadium in East Africa.

The Zanzibar’s endeavour to make itself a sporting nation seems to head for a huge success. That Zanzibar is keen to harvest gold from the blood and sweat of its youth goes without saying.

The Zenj land began investing seriously in martial arts– judo to be precise. To day, it is a judo superpower in East Africa. Any other country which considers itself a worthy rival will admit that Zanzibar is a force to reckon with in judo.

Asking how it became such a force in this oriental defensive art will be rhetoric question. It deliberately decided to invest in the game. It built centres for training, employed expert trainers from Japan and the rest followed.

Young people with blood hot enough to take to the game are aplenty. Given its level in judo, Zanzibar can very well think of taking part in Olympic judo. This is where the distinction between other games and Zanzibar judo begins.

When time comes for some international game the nation hurriedly calls some athlete, rushes them through a semblance of training. They board a place and off they fly to meet opponents who have been training for years, testing themselves with international contests.

The nation may have youths, but if the youth have nowhere to prove their talents, they are no good for themselves and for their nation. What Zanzibar is doing is restricting those talents from aimless wandering and idle presence at jobless corners.

That done, the youth are tamed for responsible presence of gainful activities in athletics. It is a step in the right direction and Zanzibar can be said to be doing well for its youth development.

Mostly, however, it is investment that will benefit the nation in a big way.

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