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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An evenly matched and exciting showdown


On the night of last Sunday, secret painters, the dread-locked and heeders of vintage advice faced off in what went down in my journal as the most memorable episode of Zain Africa Challenge this year this far. The encounter between Malawi Adventist University (MAU) and Jomo Kenyatta University (JKU) (pictured) was evenly matched and provided light entertainment that has eluded previous showdowns.
First, Malawi’s Alinafe Mwanza used his platform to dote on his “wonderful family”, proceeding to send “a shout-out” to his mom, brothers and sister, and thanking them “for everything.” It was nice of him. But he got carried away and by the time he regained competitive composure, his dread-locked opponent in centre position, Raphael Otieno Okal, had steered his team to an early lead with 130 points, a cool 90 ahead.

It was ironical that Alinafe kept picking ‘American Hip-Hop’ category as if he was a hip-hop head yet he even had no clue Jay-Z is behind the catchy rap single, Izzo. Okal, with his hip-hop attitude had shunned the category but gladly provided the answers to what the Malawian had flunked.

The next round gave us the witty advice I should live by, from Munthali Chawanangwa, who saluted his grandfather for inspiring him: “He died at the age of 92," he told show host John Sibi-Okumu, "but his philosophy was ‘keep on searching for knowledge, use it wisely, never disappoint others or yourself because that’s the call of life.’”

It was evident the Malawian heeded his grandpa’s advice as he engineered a steady recovery of his team so much that by the end of the third round, Kenyatta was now leading by a meagre 10-point margin. I was all for the Malawians to draw from the “spiritual nourishment” that is an integral part of their university and choose wisely, for like Sibi-Okumu likes to say, "the Ultimate Challenge is the ultimate choice."

Alas they went for the M Posing category that turned out to be tough as only five questions were answered correctly, giving them a total of 250 points and a grand total of 510. JKU, now 240 points behind, needed five correct answers before they could celebrate. Of the remaining categories, ‘Historic Battles in Africa,’ was picked and the questioner started shooting at a terrific speed that is now his trademark.

Although the Kenyans shambled like drunken men, they got eight correct answers in the stipulated minute, for a total of 400 points and grand total of 670. That made JKU the third Kenyan University this season alone to cruise into the quarterfinals of the academic competition and the team was justifiably jubilant, while across the room, not even the consolation of $1,000 could console Chawanangwa whose face was now wreathed in grief, poor boy must have felt he had let down his grandfather and country seeing the last Malawian university was now out as well.
The race tomorrow is between Zambia’s Copperbelt University and University of Sierra Leone. Catch it on NTV at 8:30 p.m.

--Saturday Monitor, April 17, 2010