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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Makerere bows out with dignity


The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones,” Mark Antony’s words from Julius Ceasar shot through my mind after Lamech Mbangaye’s poor performance precipitated the elimination of Makerere University from the Zain Africa Challenge last Sunday.

Not that he put up a pitiable act but his poor start disorganised him all through and cost Uganda 's last standing university in this televised brain game the indescribably wanted victory.
“What colourful surname was shared by married British authors Elizabeth Barret and Robert?” asked quizmaster John Sibi-Okumu.

And Mbangaye shocked the daylights out of me by answering "Brown," for, honestly, it’s hard to encounter a learned person –poetry lover or not –who has not heard of the Brownings. It was almost unbelievable that Mak’s brightest star since the fourth season of this competition kicked off, could let points slip through his hands like that.

The question was quickly passed on to the meticulous Sammy Mwaniki who nailed it and the follow ups as Africa Nazarene University went on to claim the round with 240 points against Mak’s 150.

The first round had not started brightly either; Simon Peter Lanyero Lukwiya who was in the driving seat didn't set the winning pace for his team as it ended in a draw at 90 points.

In a tactical move, both sides dropped their weakest links; with coach Philip Kazibwe introducing Kenneth Bagonza for Ruita Mbogo while the baby-faced Andrew Kamau came on instead of Vanessa Karuri.

With his heavy muscles twitching in a tight Zain jersey, Bagonza didn’t look the kind Mak needed to recover but he ended up amazing viewers with a pulsating approach that reduced our deficit from 90 points to 20.

Mak was now capable of an upset, and indeed, it was exhilarating the way our boys lapped up points in the category Starts with F like a hungry cat on a bowl of milk. And just when they were on the verge of hitting the 500-points-jackpot of the Ultimate Challenge, the world’s most populous ‘F’ nation capital, (Freetown), defied them, and so 450 points gave them a total score of 730 points.

The Kenyans needed 450 points to reach the finals and although the category Left and Right tossed them about, they toiled and just a microsecond to the end, snatched the ninth question, winning the day 20 points ahead of Mak.

It was an intense semi-final, and sadly for Mbangaye, it obliterated his glorious past as show fans who voted him player of the week after the first game will now remember him for not measuring up when Mak needed him the most, while Bagonza became the ace that helped us bow out with a little more dignity. For being semi-finalists, each of our boys won $2,500 and another $25,000 for the university.

Catch the other semi-final tomorrow on NTV at 8:30 p.m., as Jomo Kenyatta University battles twice winners Egerton University.

--Saturday Monitor, May 29, 2010.