I will go straight for the jugular. Our national sports associations are an embarrassment and in my opinion their entire leadership should resign immediately and face criminal charges.
If you’ve haven’t heard of the Dady Birori/Ferwafa scandal then I can only guess you’ve been living under a rock. But if you will, let me give you the abridged version. A few weeks ago the national team, the Amavubi Stars, qualified for the final group qualifiers of the African Cup of Nations after beating Congo Brazzaville in a thrilling contest. The only issue was that one of the players who played for us was not only NOT Rwandan but he had different names and dates of birth of his passports. In his Rwandan documents, he was Dady Birori and in his Congolese passport he was Etekiama Agiti Tady. His date of birth on his Rwandan document was December 12, 1986 while on his Congolese one his date of birth was given as December 13 1990.
The Congo Brazzaville football association complained to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) that Rwanda had used an uneligible player and happily for me at least, CAF agreed with them and disqualified the national team from participating in the next round. And less happily, banned Birori indefinitely.
Sadly, the football association tried to wiggle out of this by trying to justify its amafuti (wrongdoing) by appealing the CAF sanction but CAF thankfully stood by its decision, rejecting Rwanda’s appeal on Saturday.
Now I know that I will be called unpatriotic and a hater of Rwandan football but I say to you, nothing could be further from the truth. What I demand is simple; to have a national team that represents me; a Rwandan. Not one that is made up of mercenaries (or ‘Cubans’, as we used to call them in high school).
Remember the greatest moment in our national team’s history, our qualification to the African Nations Cup final in Tunisia? I’m pretty sure that less than half of that team could actually sing the national anthem. In fact, instead of calling it the Amavubi Stars, we should have called it the ICGLR All-Stars. We had Ugandans, Congolese, Angolans, Burundians and only a smattering of locals.
I asked a New Times sports reporter to give me a list of former and current Amavubi players with their ‘Rwandan’ names and their real names and the list is shocking. Here are some their Rwandan (read fake) name in brackets:
Sena Abedi Jerome (Sina Jerome), Mbuyu Twitte (Gasana Eric), Kasongo Kabiona (Kalisa Mao), Jean
Pierre Mukandira (Kabanda Laurent), Bokota Labama (Kamana Bokota), Kambale Salita Gentil (Papi Kamanzi) Nkanu Mudiyavanga (Mugabo Robert) Ruhinda Faruk (Sejuuko Saifi Farouk) Peter Otema (Kagabo Peter), Julius Bakabulindi (Kaburindi Julius) Kawuma Charles (Gakumba Charles), Kasereka Fabrice (Mutuyimana Mussa), Tabu Ete Mafisango (Mutesa Patrick Mafisango) Janvier Bisonga (Ntaganda Elias), Kasusura Jean ( Ismael Mussa), Bawuma Berisi (Nahimana Jonas) Lokota Jean (Karangwa John), Mutaki Jean Baptiste Kasereka (Kalisa Kasse), Kaseleka Aluwa (Gasueruka Aluwa), Ujeneza Robert Kolo (Gasana Philip Pitchou), Mike Yossam (Karangwa Michel) and Alphat Serugendo (Claude Kalisa).
What absolutely floored me was the some players used one name playing for their local club and then used another playing for the national team. An example is one former APR FC player Mbuyu Twite who was given the ‘Rwandan’ name Eric Gasana whenever he worse the national jersey. Scandalous!
Don’t think that our football association is guilty of this citizenship silliness. Our nationalvolleyball and basketball teams are guilty as well.
There are a couple of things we need to discuss. Why did we need to change their names? Was that really necessary? If we did, did our sports federations act within our citizenship law? Did they act within their international federation’s citizenship statues? I’m pretty sure that they did not. And even if they somehow did follow the law, they have gone both against the spirit of sportsmanship and that of ‘Agaciro’.
When we talk about ‘agaciro’, I believe we talk about ‘doing things the right way’, excellence, patience and hard work. All in all, when I hear the word ‘agaciro’, I hear the words ‘ethical behavior’. Now let us look at what has been done and, is still being done, in our names.
Our sports federations have refused to do the hard work needed to build a proper and sustainable sports infrastructure that can feed the national teams with talent. They’ve refused to build enough sports pitches, train coaches and work with schools. Rather, they’ve chosen to cheat and now the chickens have come home to roost.
We need to go back to the drawing board and start doing things the right way. Let our national teams represent not merely ‘Rwanda’, but rather the kind of Rwanda that we can be proud of.. Enough is enough! I say, we cannot allow this cabal of fraudsters to sully us further. They must be forced to resign and punished severely. If this isn’t done, then I will have to say “adieu” to the federations’ teams because they don’t represent me anymore. I love my Amavubi. I just cannot love what they have become.