MAY 18-24 :: PREPARATION
May 18 - Formal preparation begins
The SMU men's basketball team has started formal preparation for the team's African Tour. The squad leaves on May 25 for a 12-day tour that includes stays in Senegal and South Africa. The squad is practicing on campus at the Crum Basketball Center and taking an anthropology class called People of Africa. The student-athletes will keep journals during this unique trip which will be chronicled at SMUMustangs.com. The basketball trip from May 25 to June 5, will include a safari as well as tours of Johannesburg, South Africa, and Dakar, Senegal. The Mustangs in partnership with Adidas will perform coaching and skills clinics in each city. The Ponies will also play exhibition games against the national teams of Senegal and South Africa with an additional game against the SEEDS Academy in Senegal.
The Mustangs had class for the People of Africa course they are taking as part of the trip. Class was from 1-3 p.m. with practice from 3:30 - 6 p.m. Former players Jon Killen, Derrick Roberts, Willie Davis, and Jemeil Rich practiced with the team in preparation for the trip.
Bamba Fall - journal entry about the Peoples of Africa class
Taking this class means a lot to me because I will get to learn a lot about Africa. Even though, I know a lot about Africa, there are certain things I don't know. I think this class will help refresh my memory. This class really proves that Africa has a lot of culture that people don't know. Some people argue that Africa doesn't have a lot of history. They think that the colonization is the reason why people talk about African history, but this is not true. Africa had a lot of history even before the Europeans got there. I think this class is going to help my teammates learn about Africa and where I came from. Going to Africa this summer is something that I am really looking forward to. I can't wait to see my family because my family is very important to me. I also can't wait to have some tiebou diem, which is my favorite food. I think that going to Africa is a really good thing for the team to do because we are family and we need to know each other really well. I think it will be good for the guys from here to learn about another culture. Since I got here, I have heard all kids of questions such as; do you live in a jungle, have you ever killed a lion, do you drive cars? Sometime I just laugh knowing that they just don't know. I think this trip will bring us closer as a team. We will also experience a different kind of basketball. We will get to play the Senegalese National Team and the SEEDS Hoops Academy. I think that will help us a lot for the upcoming season.
Blog, May 19
Saturday morning, while Jon Killen, Derrick Roberts, and Paulius Ritter were lining up with their classmates at graduation (props to them!), their eight teammates were lining up for a new challenge: Anthropology 3314--Peoples of Africa.
On each of the eight days before they leave for Senegal and South Africa, these Mustangs are doing more than a week's worth of reading, writing, discussing, and thinking. It's possibly the most academically demanding and intellectually engaging course any of them has taken so far. They're the only students in the class, so all responsibility for class discussion falls on them. When the professor asks a question, one of them is going to answer. As they prepare for exams and quizzes, they have to rely on each other's notes. When you think about it, that's a pretty good way to build a team.
Their two basketball practices a day may seem pretty easy compared to what's going on in class Think about it ... can you accurately put the current names of all 54 African countries on a map? (Alex and Tomasz can.) Could you explain some of the reasons the legacy of colonialism has made democratization so difficult? (Bamba and Ryan can.) How about the relationship between climate and migration? (Ask Mo or Mike) What's the significance of the ITCZ? Or the Dual Imperative? (Check with Robert or Papa.).
Over the next few days, as well as while they're in Africa, and then when they get back, these eight Mustangs will be taking exams, writing papers, surviving quizzes, and keeping journals. You'll get to read some of these journals on this blog site. When you do, I think that, like me, you'll be pretty impressed with what these eight guys are accomplishing.
Journals - May 20
During the class People of Africa, the Mustangs watched several movies about life in Africa. Here are some excerpts from their response papers.
Robert Nyakundi - "Tableau Feraille"
I think the first signs of Daam's downfall came when he decided to get married to Kine. Even though Kine appeared to be the more attractive wife, Daam was already married to Gagnesiri. Daam and Gagnesiri were unable to have kids and Kine was very fertile. Gagnesiri didn't openly reject Daam's decision to marry Kine, but I could see the disappointment in Gagnesiri's face. I think she felt as if Daam was trying to replace her for not being able to give children to him. Even though Daam's children were birthed by Kine, we see Gagnesiri spending a lot of time doing motherly activities with the children. Gagnesiri is the traditional African wife who is inclined to all of her husband's needs. On the other hand, Kine is more of the western-like wife who has her own aspirations to be successful in society. Daam trusts both his wives equally, but fails to recognize the ambitions of Kine. Kine believes Daam should be using his position to collect more money for himself just as the rest of the dirty government workers. Daam is not like the other government officials because he believes that his honest work will help clean up some of the corruption and provide better opportunities for everyone within the country.
Tableau Ferraille shows how even when the acts of good are being performed, the acts of evil always arise. This is evident as Daam is trying to use his powerful position to create economic stability for his homeland, but he must overcome the corrupting forces of President & Co. President & Co. wishes to get the contract of the fish cannery in hopes of obtaining personal wealth. Daam feels that a company outside of his village is more qualified for the contract and then is betrayed by Kine as she steals his proposal papers. Even though Daam is proud that people from his own village won the contract, he feels that there were better educated individuals for the job. Like most companies in Africa, the fish cannery is run by the government without any competition from private companies. President & Co. fail to realize that their dominance is adding to the difficulties that exist with the economy. Everyone is dependent upon their products and as a result of their misuse; President & Co. is creating benefits for themselves rather than the community.
As evident from this film the audience can gain an understanding of why many African nations have made little (if any) strides toward economic stability. Daam has found how truly difficult it is for someone to try to lead a life of good when everyone else is leading a life of deceit. If many African governments are not able to adopt reasonable political regimes that can help the people, these nations will continue to have economic and political problems.
Papa Dia - "Tableau Feraille"
Daam becomes a member of parliament, then a minister. He attracts a whole group of "supporters" who hope to gain advantage through his position. A plot hatched to recuperate a public works contract and in which his second wife, name Kine, is implicated brings Daam's political career to an end. She left Daam and took all the children with her. Daam and Gagnesiri are made to leave Tableau Feraille. Shamed and terribly affected, Daam will not recover from his downfall. At the end, Gagnesiri also ended up leaving him because she could not live with the shame any longer.
Ryan Harp - "Tools of Exploitation"
When Africa first started to become colonized by Europe, the Europeans brought with them their religions and government. I think this was good and bad. The religion and government together was supposed to provide a structure that was strong to help the Africans live happy and successful lives. However, this film shows that the outcome was far from prosperous for the Africans. Their labor and toughness made them very wanted in the slave trade. Slavery became a huge part of Africa. The development that would have been inclining was disrupted due to slavery instilled by the foreigners. Slavery kept the people of Africa from gaining valuable skills that led to Africa's poor development today. I did not realize that slavery put such a dent in the progression and development of Africa.
Mike Walker - "Tools of Exploitation"
Mazuri explains to the audience that ever since the Europeans came to Africa they have been hurting and hindering the African people. First the Europeans created a slave trade between the British and French colonies in east Africa and the settlers in America. Then once slave trade was something that was looked down upon they started a railway to "help develop" the nations again. When in fact the main purposes of the railway was to obtain gold, and glory for Europe, as well as to introduce God to Africans.
Western influence hindered Africa in the sense that Africans began to acquire a taste for the western lifestyle without the western education. Western and European nations would try to introduce the industrial improvements of the world rather then trying to improve the things that Africa has to offer. This left Africa with unmanned companies and unfinished work. This seemed to hut the economy more than help it.
Midwestern nations of Africa are also responsible for the continue of slave trade that took place even after no more slaves were being allowed to be sold in America, and British and French colonies looked down upon slavery. Another thing that African nations did to contribute to its lack of improvement or economic growth is that they began to acquire western and European taste without getting the education needed to fully understand how to operate or run the technology has well as lack of money to run the technology.
Tomasz Kwiatkowski - "The Africans: A Triple Heritage"
The programs tell the story of Africans as inhabitants of Africa. The triple heritage refers to the three main cultures that made the influence on Africa: traditional African culture, Islamic culture, and Western Culture.
The video discusses African developments from the perspective of its heritage. It also shows how geography influences the history of Africa. It explores the roles that water, desert, and the climate have played in developing African culture and civilization.
Dr Mazrui, who is from Kenya, explained at the beginning how African geography has been the mother if its history. He stated that the earliest human remains can be found in Africa. Therefore it might be called the birthplace of human culture.
Africans always stayed close to nature. They were interested in secrets of the Ocean. It was a food provider for them. Besides that, the forest was also giving them shelter and food. They were negotiating prices to get the best deal at the Nile river - the mother of Africa. As an example, in Senegal, an African man was a hunter and African woman was a mother and a market woman.
In the next part of the documentary, I found out that religion was really important factor in the lives of African people. Islamic people had to pray five times a day on a certain time. Their religion appeared for the first time in North Africa in the 7th century. By the time the series of programs were produced, there were 200 million Muslims on the continent.
The fact that was also pretty interesting was that Europeans have had the largest cultural influence. They started massive colonization in most of the African countries. They manifested their power and plans by determining where Africa ended. That's how the Suez Canal was made.
I think that the passionate Mazuri blamed white people of destroying the native African culture and traditions and ignored the development of Islam as a religion which brought a lot to the African culture.
I got really interested in the whole documentary series of "The Africans - The Triple Heritage" and I will hopefully get other titles like "A legacy of lifestyles" or "New Gods". Dr Mazrui has a really specific way of presenting facts about Africa. He is originally from Kenya, so he his accent is of course different than the native speakers'.
Bamba Fall - "Tableau Feraille"
The movie "Tableau Feraille" shows that many Africans don't care about the development of their countries. I think that corruption is a big part of Africa's poverty. A lot of African countries get help from European countries and the United States, but the individuals who receive the money usually think about themselves first before their countries. This movie showed some corruption, dishonesty and explained why African countries are behind and will be behind for long time.
In the movie Daam was a native of Tableau Feraille. He had two wives named Kine and Gagnesiri and also had two kids. Dame married Gagnesiri first, but they couldn't have kids. After he met Kine, he went and let Gagnesiri who was the first wife know that he wants to have another wife so he can at least have a kid. The couple agreed on that situation. Gagnesiri is very nice person, very polite who is always ready to be there for her husband. Kine is always thinking about money.
Daam was voted deputy at first by his city. He decided to help develop the city of Tableau Feraille. In Africa, people have the tendency to have family and friends working for them or give them ideas and help on their jobs. Daam thought that those people were good friends, but he thought wrong. When he became minister, he hired couple people to work in his cabinet. Daam was working hard and doing the right thing but something was going wrong because his friends who were supposed to help him were making him look bad by not investing the money. They were putting it in their pockets.
I think that the movie was very well done, because it tells us the truth about Africa. In Senegal, the same things happen over and over. The money that we get from developed countries is never invested. In order to stay in the government for long time, you have to be like all the others. Ministers who try to do things seriously always end up getting in trouble. Daam was trying to find a way to help the population, but some people thought that keeping the money was a better idea. Daam who was trying to make a difference in the society got fired for something that he didn't do. After he got fired, people ignored him. The only thing he had left was his first wife Gagnesiri who ended up leaving him.
This is the reason why African countries have a lot of debt. They borrow money from other countries and do not use it on something that can benefit their country. The problem now is that European countries don't help Africans like they used to anymore because they now know how corrupt they are. I think that it's a good thing to let them figure out themselves, because I think that a lot of countries depend on international aid. They don't really work hard because they know that help will come. There are a lot of people who want to turn things around but corruption is standing on their way.
Mouhammad Faye - "Tools of Exploitation"
He traces the colonial economic legacy, the development of slavery, and European control of Africa's natural resources. I will try to analyze the video and maybe I will be able to say who is to blame and who really benefited from the Colonialism.
Ali Mazrui started by talking about the dual mandate which is the double mission that the European countries had in Africa. The Mission consisted of developing Africa's resources for Africa and use those resources for Europe's industrial needs. Even though Africa has many natural resources, Africa also has extremely poor living standards. People are dying of hunger, diseases and there is lot of political trouble. He explained how white people came to Africa, explored their resources and took the wealth of the country.
Mazrui said that African countries should develop Africa's resources for its own benefit and to use the resources to meet Europe's industrial needs. Thus, Africans need to buy goods from other nations. The West does not share its technological knowledge with Africa to any great extent, leaving Africa with acquired Western tastes, but no skills to fulfill those tastes on their own.
I think that Ali did a good job demonstrating in the video the fact that white people really exploited Africans resources for their own profit. He did good presenting the reasons why Europeans were in Africa trying to help develop the country as well. The only goals they had were to get some gold, implant their religion and have some glory. He gave out the example of the Slavery which is one of the biggest denials of Africa's development because of the number of people Africa lost to the profit the European lands. Africans became the most ashamed people alive at that time. Twelve million Africans were shipped and a lot of those never reached the Americas because they died. The only thing that Africans were gaining from the slave trade was guns. So when Africa exported men and women that are good implements of construction, they imported guns which are implements of destruction. Therefore the culture of violence started in the country.
I also think that Mazrui at some point put all the blame on the European. I believe that the problem was coming from both sides. For example, Slavery existed in Africa before Europeans came to Africa. It wasn't as evil as when white people started, but it was still a type of slavery. In addition slavery and colonialism wouldn't have so much success if African clans or villages or countries stayed together and fought for their freedom. This basically means that some African kings were collaborating with the white people. The majority of the European armies were composed of Africans who were killing each other while white people were trying to find strategies to exploit the resources in the continent.
I assume after watching this video that Africa did gain something from the whole colonization like learning to read, write, do arithmetic, and new religion. Africans learned to speak, dress, and think like Westerners but they are still way behind politically and economically. They should've been able to control their own natural resources and their continent perfectly by the end of the colonial period.
Journals - May 21
Blog - May 22
"Countdown to Africa"
We are four days away from leaving for Africa! The excitement is building, especially for "The Senegalese Three" - Bamba, Papa and Mouhammad! I could see it in their faces as we discussed the trip in our pre-practice huddle. We will arrive in Senegal Monday morning and practice that afternoon then we play Senegal's National Team on Tuesday!! Can't believe it!
Practice has gone well as the guys have worked hard and have improved a great deal since the end of the season. Former players Willie Davis and Jemeil Rich have practiced with us since we are low on bodies. Jon Killen and Derrick Roberts are practicing as well and will make the trip, even though they will not play. Unfortunately, our incoming players can't participate.
We have had a lot of visitors this week at practice, from local high school coaches, former players, to supporters of SMU Basketball. It is good to give people a glimpse of life from the inside of the program. People are impressed with our organization and work ethic. Good to hear!
Blog - May 23
"Did you say practice? We're talking about practice.......practice.......we're talking about practice!"
Those were the infamous words of Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers when he was playing for Larry Brown.
I happen to love practice and that is what we are getting to do this week before we leave Sunday for Senegal. Our young men have worked extremely hard on the court and have grown as players in a few short months since the conclusion of the season. Here is the breakdown: