Wednesday August 27 2014

MOMBASA NOTEBOOK: Ethiopian 'fears'

Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo. Courtesy Photo

Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo. Courtesy Photo 

By Ismail Dhaka Kigongo

Haile Gebreselassie, Kenenisa Bekele, Tinuresh Dibaba and Mesret Defar are some of the greatest long distance athletes. They could even be some of the greatest sportsmen to have lived.

One things though they have in common is their physical stature. They are all diminutive in nature. Even for someone who has never been to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the quartet represent the sum of people from the Horn of Africa.

Their basketball teams in Mombasa this week are not any taller or bigger than Defar. And that disadvantage sends shivers down their spines. "Are the East Africans very big?" one player asked. He sounded like a motorcycle inquiring about the size of a trailer, at least going by the look on his face.

The two Ethiopian sides - men and women - were the last to arrive here on Sunday and had a story to tell. "You see in our country all the money goes to football. Even the food is not good unlike you East Africans," another, this time a lady, chips in.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) beat the women's side 87-47 and the men lost 86-47. They knew what was coming in advance but it's not size that beat them.

Ameny goes 'viral'

When Tiger Head Power arrived in Mombasa on Saturday night, I noticed one player was unusually quiet. Soon, it was easy to notice that Philip Ameny's right chick was swollen, heavily.

He has a tooth problem. The Kenyan centre couldn't practice with his mates on Sunday. His journey to see a dentist was even more more eventful as he was desperate to feature in Power's Fiba Africa Zone V Club Championship opener yesterday.

"Though the dentist is in office, we don't work on Sunday. Come back tomorrow," the attendant said. Ameny had to endure another before his wish was granted to Monday. A video of what happened inside the dentist's room as Ameny's tooth was being was recorded.

That video is long!!! No wonder he is a 'big man' and everyone wants a piece of the video.

Free ride on the ferry

There is a price for everything, so they say. Whoever says so was wrong for a few hours of yesterday morning. I was one of the many who took a free ride on a ferry from Mombasa (city centre) to south coast.

Here, the ferry is free and packed with cars, people and everything you can carry. It's a short crossing distance but the scenery on the other side is worth waiting in the long traffic to get to the dock.

South coast is the place for private beaches and is mainly residential. More importantly, we got a free ride there and the two ferries keep crossing back and forth so there are hardly any delays. It's worth the wait in the queue.

However, I wished it had limits on how many people and goods are allowed. Everyone at the dock seems to find room every 15-20 minutes. Can it get overloaded? I have no answer.