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Friday, April 9, 2010

Admirable and challenging girl power


The two girls on Kenya's Africa Nazarene University (ANU) team so added colour to the third episode of this year’s Zain Africa Challenge that I wanted to enter my TV and give them lingering hugs!
In a contest that has for three years become the domain of men, it was invigorating to finally see female brainpower as Vanessa Karuri Wairimu and Jane Ndug’u Waithera synergised with Sammy Kitonyi Mwaniki to give the Njala University (NU) boys running noses.
It was not just lady luck when Commerce student, Ndug'u correctly answered the first face-off question thereby endorsing her teammates to back her up in the next on geography, animal kingdom and sports idioms.

At the kick-start, Njala’s Ibrahim Kargbo talked with such vigour about how reading is his favourite pastime and it made me wonder what things he reads if he could only help his team to a miserly 50 points when his opponents were riding high with 120.
There was still enough room nevertheless for West Africans to redeem themselves so they didn’t fret.

But the mark of true competitiveness is to never give your antagonist leeway as ANU proved. When lanky Sammy took over from Jane in centre position, he cruised through John Sibi-Okumu’s questions so effortlessly I thought the question setters were generous beyond description. But then Sammy is a Computer Science student yet he was cracking questions on abbreviations from diverse fields, chemistry and architecture. No, the boy is eclectic! He was so good that he failed only one question and by that time, it was time up for that round, leaving Njala stuck at 50 points, a whopping 250 points behind their opponents.
When Vanessa took up centre spot with a wry smile, I knew the routing was not over yet! Sibi-Okumi cocked his gun and shot but she crunched his ‘bullets’ like popcorn. And although she flanked three questions, she bagged the 30 points from the Super-bonus segment and extended her team's lead to 420 points as NU looked on helplessly.
The only way for them to emerge from the grave was to snatch all the 500 points from the Ultimate Challenge and pray that ANU answer no more than two questions. Keeping their eyes on hope, they chose a category about chemical elements. And guess what? They got it all right, becoming the second university to register this feat this season after the University of Ghana. Environmental Chemistry student Musa Korgie Mustapha could now afford a smile and a swagger for even if they left, it was with integrity and a cool $1,000 each in their pockets plus $10,000 grant for their university.
And ANU, determined to monopolise the spotlight, picked “Cure what ‘ales’ you” and proceeded to sweep all the 10 questions in a record 32 seconds, carrying the day with 920 points which I bet will remain unsurpassed for the rest of this inter-university battle of the brains tournament. The girls offered infectious smiles and deservedly hugged their boy Sammy.
The blaze resumes on NTV tomorrow at 8:30p.m. when defending champions University of Ibadan locks horns with University for Development Studies, Ghana. 

--Saturday Monitor, March 20, 2010