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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Makerere remains Uganda's only hope


They came up all fired up and put up such a marvellous display within the first half of the showdown it appeared it would be an extraordinary night for Uganda in last Sunday’s Zain Africa Challenge.

That became more apparent when a word as simple as “polygamist” for a man who marries multiple women, eluded the University of Maiduguri. Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi provided the answer and went on to win the first round with 140 points, 80 ahead of their opponents.

The Nigerians obviously entered the next round with the ambition of reducing the damage only to be dazzled by the pulsating brilliance of Benjamin Mugema Axel who, in centre position, was now the engine of Nkozi. This Rwandan national went through Sibi’s questions like he was going through letters of the alphabet. Although he failed a question on basic Math, his team extended its lead to 250 points while at 140 Maiduguri looked vulnerable.

When he took centre spot to captain Uganda Martyrs in round three, Joseph Eid Osama was asked by show host John Sibi-Okumu if his name means anything. The Mbale native said Osama is an Arabic name meaning lion. “That’s where I derive my personality from,” he added in the tone of a braggart. “I go into everything with no fear; I demand respect everywhere I go and when I roar, it’s louder than hell!”

But Osama's dramatic quip proved to be mere twaddle when next he provided wrong answers and muttered a staccato of “pass pass” to Sibi-Okumu’s torrent of questions. His ineptitude visibly delighted the “Ogas”, particularly Francis Chukwukeme who, in centre position, changed the course of the face-off with grit, poise and pace that soon saw West Africans overtake Martyrs, who were now looking like a bunch of boys that had inadvertently found themselves pitted against their teachers in the battle of the brains. That’s how the team that had started so well and stepped into the third round with a 110-point lead margin left lagging by 90 points.

Come the Ultimate Challenge, they further fuelled their total destruction by picking a category as intricately alien as “French Names of Countries” (as if they were thoroughbred Frenchmen!) Here, Osama tried to redeem his now shattered image by offering most of the answers but they managed eight answers worth 400 points, bringing their total score to 660 points.

Now our boys powerlessly watched their fate get sealed as the well versed University of Maidugiri players romped through the 10 questions worth 500 points of the Ultimate Challenge, booking their place in the quarterfinals with a grand total of 890 points and a bonus of $500 each.

The martyred Ugandans took the loss nonchalantly thanks to the consolation of $1,000 each and $10,000 for their university, leaving Makerere University as our lone ambassadors in this rollercoaster academic quiz. Catch the show tomorrow at 8:30 pm on NTV as Malawi Adventist University will be up against last year’s finalists, Jomo Kenyatta University.

--Saturday Monitor,  April 10, 2010