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* Savio, Vijana, Survey, Pazi, Mlalakuwa and so on*


Success of a person from a given group is a catalyst for others striving to achieve a similar feat. That is not the case with basketball in Tanzania after the amazing achievement of Hasheem Thabeet. Instead of progressing, the Tanzanian basket-baller Hasheem had played in the NBA league, our game has drastically been dwindling, proved by poor performance in the just ended zone 5 tourney!

Why is that? After interviewing a number of up coming young players in Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Moshi, Shinyanga and Mwanza has managed to fish out the reasons.

To start with, who is Hasheem Thabeet? The answer is- he is one of the early 2000’s underground Tanzanian basketball players. He was not as known as the likes of Henry Mwinuka, Ramadhani Abdallah “Dulla” and others who enjoyed a celebrity status when the game was at its highest peak in the 1990’s.

According to his profile in Wikipedia, Hasheem Thabeet (born Hashim Thabit Manka on February 16, 1987 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) is a Tanzanian professional basketball player who plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder. At 7 ft 3 in (2.21 m), Thabeet is the tallest active player in the NBA. He was drafted as the 2nd pick overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2009 NBA Draft after playing with the Connecticut Huskies. Thabeet was the tallest player ever to play for the Huskies. He did not begin to play basketball until the age of 15, when he began to watch pick-up games in Tanzania. That is a brief account of this talented basketballer in

Hasheem Thabeet, Brandon Jennings, Aaron Brook...
Hasheem Thabeet, Brandon Jennings, Aaron Brooks, Jeremy Lin, and Luke Babbitt (Photo credit: ctsnow)

Frankly, Hasheem got elevated to high ranking basket ball not in Tanzania but Kenya. Afterwards he went to the U.S.A.  for studies where his star shone brighter. Approaching 25 now, he has already made big achievements in basketball while his age mates in Tanzania dream of reaching his level. Those Tanzanians believe they may reach Hasheem’s status by short-cut. They nurture that belief, thinking Hasheem reached his standing by easy means having not seeing him play competitively.

While talking to his fellow Tanzanians we learnt that their mindsets is convinced they will surely play for NBA team one day. Just like Hasheem. They do not think much of practicing hard, playing terrifically and improving. What they aim is “going to heaven to enjoy eternal peace without dying”! They like playing for NBA team without working hard; which is tantamount to aim for heaven but hating death.

In past golden days, young men and women of Tanzania were playing this game skillfully and industriously in teams like Savio, Vijana, Survey, Pazi, Mlalakuwa and so on. Nowadays, that spirit is no longer evident; but young Tanzanian basket-ballers are haunted by Hasheem’s massive achievement. Incidentally, these young men and women are lax in their game bemused by not seeing Hasheem playing competitively here although he is one of NBA players. It is unfortunate that those dreamers do not know that Hasheem played it somewhere else (in Kenya and U.S.A.  as an unknown) before reaching the top.

It is high time these young basket-ballers were enlightened; that without working hard here in Tanzania and improving their game, they will not achieve as much as Hasheem Thabeet. Let us all campaign to enlightening them.



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Written by Israel Saria

For the last 20 years I have been working as a football pundit. This experience has provided me with a very useful insight into football and the opportunity to carry out extensive research into the game including its players, the stadiums, the rules and tactics and I have also been grateful to meet a wide range of people connected to football in the UK, Tanzania, Germany .....

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