Another hot August day in Africa, and another Giants of Africa first – this time the team landed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to continue the mission of youth empowerment through basketball. The most populous city in the country is banked by the Indian Ocean, and serves as the hotbed for the arts, especially fashion, media, music, and film and television.
The coaches made their way to Jakaya Kikwete Youth Park for their first order of business and quickly fitted 60 local children with “I am a Giant” t-shirts, springing them into action. Raptors 905 Head Coach and Camp Director extraordinaire, Jama Mahlalela made his first appearance on the tour and infused his energy in a way that only he can – one clap, two clap!
The International School of Tanganyika (IST) was the backdrop for a girls and boys combined camp, creating a spirited, educational, and dynamic experience for the kids. From the opening drill to the final cheer, it was evident that Tanzania wanted to let the Giants of Africa team know: they want basketball, and they’re willing to work for it. After a hyper-competitive two days, it was the girls that stole the show, electrifying the crowd with their All-Star game performance. A barrage of 3’s caused an eruption so strong, the referees had to clear the on-looking players (and some of the coaches) as they rushed the court. Coach Jama remarked afterwards that “it was one of the best All-Star games in camp history.” He added, “however, their (the girls) involvement in our Dream Big Goals Section was even more powerful as they showed all of us what true leadership was, as they described their dreams for Africa.” It was impossible to miss camper Myrah Oloo’s contribution, as she addressed the camp with her dreams for Tanzania and the continent. She has all the makings of a future President. Remember that name.
Two major highlights capped camp. The first was the involvement of former NBA second overall pick, and local Tanzanian, Hasheem Thabeet. He dropped in both days to provide instruction, encouragement and sound advice to the eager ears of the kids. The lasting impression of Tanzania was one of amazement. The final night in Dar es Salaam was punctuated by a beautiful gala organized by local activist, visionary, leader, and GOA friend, Jokate Mwegelo. Dignitary speeches, live musical performances, and a fashion show sent the GOA crew onto South Sudan feeling great – what more can you ask for.