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Rwabushenyi Memorial: A case of inequality in sport

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Players ponder their next move during the just concluded Rwabushenyi Memorial tournament. Photo by EDDIE CHICCO 

Posted  Monday, January 13  2014 at  02:00

In Summary

Comment. Meritocracy commands that the male and female winner at the Rwabushenyi Chess Memorial take home the same paycheque.



Okay, here are the facts: Arthur Ssegwanyi won the male category of the Rwabushenyi Chess Memorial on count back after there was little daylight between him and Elijah Emojong; Ivy Amoko perfection at the board, meanwhile, ensured that there was no such grandstand finish in the ladies’ category; chess prodigy, Phiona Mutesi, was something of a no-show (she told your columnist that she is rusty after school obligations protractedly kept way from the checkered board).

The potency of these plot lines weaved during the four-day chess tournament -- the biggest on the Ugandan calendar -- isn’t in doubt.
They actually turned out to be the bread and butter for the mainstream media. There was, however, an equally, if not more, stronger plot line that was overlooked. It was a much more nuanced plot line that was tucked away in figures. The prize money to be precise.

While Ssegwanyi took home Shs 1.2 million for winning the male category, his female opposite number, Amoko, bagged just half of that sum total (Shs 0.6 million) for her endeavours. I couldn’t help but pick out the huge contrast, and, above all, wonder what exactly had triggered it.
I didn’t get much in response with a few of my colleagues telling me that the landscape has assumed such an outlook for awhile now.
The sobering actuality of the contrast, however, still begs of truckloads of questions…well, at least in your humble columnist’s book. No amount of suasion from the chess grandees can do, really. Why do they have a vested interest in maintaining a -- to say the least -- anachronistic status quo?
If this plot line feels like Venus Williams championing the cause of women tennis players at the All England Club, then, guess what, it is because it is, quite frankly, a carbon copy.

To borrow the phrase Venus succinctly weaved during the apex of her fight for equal prize money, refusal to pay a flat figure across the board “devalues the principle of meritocracy”.
Meritocracy commands that the male and female winner at the Rwabushenyi Chess Memorial take home the same paycheque. In my assessment, paying the ladies less is demeaning to them.

It overtly suggests that they are, well, not good enough.
Oddly enough, Mutesi -- who has earned Ugandan chess incredible coverage on foreign shores -- used to vanquish girls and boys alike when she was based in the shantytown of Katwe.
In doing so, she proved that the woman can be just as good as her male opposite number, and deserves to be treated as such.

To show tough love or not, that is the question!
The disturbing tale of Roger Mukasa’s loss of form with the bat continues to show no signs of abating. The opening bat has struggled for runs during warmup matches in New Zealand ahead of next week’s ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
Mukasa’s metamorphosis from a fierce, if hung-ho, batsman to a lame duck is as striking as it is worrying.

The 24-year-old is a shadow of the stalwart on whose shoulders Uganda’s crippling batting demands rested.
He barely makes it to double figures nowadays.
Another failure will surely force national coach, Johan Rudolph’s hand (this column was written before the Cricket Cranes took on Canada in a warm-up match on Saturday).

A push down the batting order might just about suffice since Mukasa’s bowling heroics continue to endear him to many, not least Rudolph.
That said; there is one school of thought that reckons -- and strongly so -- that Mukasa is getting away with a mere slap on the wrist.
They say that the tough love that has so publicly been meted out to yet another opening bat, Arthur Kyobe, has not really been used.
Not on Mukasa at least!

This of course has put into sharp focus a long-standing debate over the efficacy of two contrasting approaches -- putting an arm around one’s shoulders and tough love. The usage of the two approaches has always split opinion.
It has certainly caused more friction when used selectively as is the case with Kyobe and Mukasa.

When Rogers Mulindwa wrote that he was “delighted to announce that I have this 9th day of January 2014 resigned my position as a Fufa Spokesperson”, eyes were popped. Delighted is a word used sparingly in resignation letters.

Truth be told, though, Mulindwa was, well, delighted. We now know that Mulindwa has not been at par with Fufa boss, Moses Magogo, for awhile now. One of the things that Magogo did when he assumed the Fufa presidency mid last year was to demote Mulindwa from Head of Communications to a mere spokesperson.
We also know that Mulindwa (Pictured) is not the only person whom Magogo has rubbed the wrong way. Many of the foot soldiers at Mengo took offence when Magogo not only reduced most of their salaries but also relegated them to the lower floor of Fufa House.

We now know that they are rubbing their hands in anticipatory relish as dirty linen is washed in public. Take the allegation that Magogo abused the $10,000 Fufa got from a recent friendly match against Rwanda. This sordid tale is just about kicking off. That we know for sure!