For a protracted period now Uganda has in an oddly unconvincingly way been trying to show that it isn’t at loggerheads with its southwestern neighbour. On its part, Rwanda has made no apology for closing land ports of entry to Uganda. The astonishingly divergent views have only served to sketch a portrait of a relationship in its death throes.
Sport has found itself sucked into what some would call an entertainingly nasty impasse.
Early this year, National Council of Sports made a poor fist of defending why president Museveni’s grandchildren were hauled off a travelling party to Rwanda for an age grade hoops tournament.
So there were no surprises when Rwanda recently revealed that it wouldn’t be taking part in the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup scheduled to run from December 7-19 in, you’ve guessed right, Uganda.
With dots duly joined, the guesstimate is that both countries cannot keep the lid on their simmering animosity. Exactly what happens next remains unclear.
The status quo will probably continue being at a standstill much to the visceral horror of many.
What isn’t at a standstill, though, is the international career of Samuel Nemeyimana Kato. The lanky KCCA FC defender’s middle name and surname are a bit of a dead giveaway in the sense that they tell a story.
Not just any story, but one about the tapestries that have created conflicted nationalities in this part of the world. Born to a Ugandan father and Rwandan mother, Kato has captured the imagination of many not least because he plays with such style and easy authority. Capped at the under-17 age grade for Uganda, Rwanda is reported to have still found him tellingly attractive.
The interest will fizzle out once Johnny McKinstry hands the youngster his first cap at the forthcoming Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup. Uganda will probably claim to have scored a win that delivers more than just moment-by-moment pleasure.
Don’t expect Rwanda to beat itself up over what her southwestern neighbours will frame as a ‘snub.’ SC Villa left back, Derrick Ndahiro is after all still up for grabs.
Overlooked for successive Cecafa tournaments on Ugandan soil, Rwanda will sense an opportunity to run a boundlessly energetic campaign to have the boot on the other foot. The grapevine is buzzing with talk that Ndahiro could well give Rwanda an affirmative answer. Such an outcome will leave Uganda terribly bruised because of countless reasons. For one, this will be the ultimate self-inflicted blow.
But above all, Ndahiro is different from most up and coming fullbacks in Uganda if anything because he crosses the ball beautifully.
Most Ugandan fullbacks prefer to do a Nico Wadada. This usually doesn’t cut it because with the game getting narrower and narrower, the primal role of fullbacks is to provide width. That’s why a lot of money is doled out on that in European transfer markets. So if Rwanda succeeds with Ndahiro, they will have every reason to pat themselves on the back.
Guess the age-old dictum is true after all. You can’t win them all. Especially if they are seen as pawns on the board. But are they? Pawns that is.
What we now know....
We now know that Nick Natuhereza is onto something. He could become the first person to do a coaching double at the National Basketball League playoffs finals.
We know that Natuhereza is running the rule over not just UCU Canons but also the Lady Canons.
We also know that he drew first blood midweek, watching the Lady Canons leave it late against JKL Lady Dolphins in the women’s finals.
We know that he didn’t stay around till the end during game one of the best-of-seven series against reigning men’s champions, City Oilers. His controversial ejection, however, turned out to be the ultimate catalyst as the Canons showed nerves of steel in picking up a 67-59 win.