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Dorcas Ndasaba: The legend, painful rejection and life as a farmer

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“The writing was on the wall. My services were no longer required.”

We have all heard this once or multiple times in life. It has happened to us or those close to us. Whether in the informal employment, white collar jobs or in the sports world where club owners and coaches move to terminate players’ contracts.

But the story of Dorcas ‘The Destroyer’ Ndasaba and her final days in the national women’s volleyball team is one for the movies.

One of Kenya’s most decorated players, the poster girl of the team and the undisputed leader was unceremoniously axed from the team days to the 2007 FIVB World Cup in Japan.

Ndasaba, who took over the captaincy from the late Doris ‘Scud’ Wefwafwa after she relocated to the United States of America in 2002, had served Kenya diligently until a few days to the team’s departure to Japan for the global showpiece when hell broke loose.

Then 37, she was controversially dropped from the team,  sparking a massive uproar from Kenyans.

“Age wouldn’t have counted because at 37, I was still performing well. Everyone could see the results,” Ndasaba recounts.

“I, however, later learned that my firm stand with the playing unit on our allowances rubbed Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) officials the wrong way leading to my dismissal from the team.”

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Dorcas Ndasaba, a retired volleyball player and now a volleyball coach during an interview at her home in Mitua Village, Tongeren of Bungoma County on July 15, 2020. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“Players were demanding higher pay, and as the captain, I had to be part of them. Besides, it is a team sport. I was at a crossroad but I chose  the long route.”

“In our last week of training at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, my teammates were invited to State House to meet former President Mwai Kibaki. For reasons best known to officials, I was not part of the team. Later, I was informed by some players that I had been axed from the Japan-bound team. Catherine ‘Shiro’ Wanjiru was named captain.”

That was a slap in the face.

“I picked my bags, wished my teammates who had returned from State House well and left. Upcoming players among them Jane Wacu and Brackcides Agala were in tears as I walked away.”

“I boarded a matatu to my place in Embakasi, but I told myself I had to travel upcountry where I knew there was real love, support and comfort,” said the former Sirakaru Secondary School alumnus.

“I travelled home that night and my mother, Elicah Ndasaba, gladly received me with open arms. She was aware of what had happened after my story featured prominently in all media stations. Later that evening, Paul Bitok arrived home on a mission to convince me to go back to the team.”

“I had mixed feelings. We had a good working relationship with Bitok having played professional volleyball together in Croatia. Out of respect for him, I decided to travel back to Nairobi the next day, though half-heartedly,” she recalls.

Bitok, now the women’s national team coach, said Ndasaba felt unappreciated.

“It took a lot of convincing to make her change her mind. I told her that the country needed her the most at the time and thanks to the respect we had for each other, she agreed though unwillingly,” remembers Bitok, who together with Ndasaba played for Croatian outfit Rijeka Club in the 2005/2006 season.

Other players in the Japan team were Janet Wanja, Mercy Moim, the late Doris Palang’a, Diana Khisa, Lydia Maiyo, Judith Tarus, Jackline Barasa and Edinah Rotich.

Ndasaba, a mother of one daughter, Cynthia Namulanda, said a visit by former Sports Commissioner Gordon Oluoch’s visit to her house in Embakasi made all the difference.

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Dorcas Ndasaba (left), a retired volleyball player and now a coach accompanied by her mother Elka Namulanda (centre) and daughter Cynthia Namulanda, show one of the trophies she won, during an interview outside her mother’s house in Mitua Village, Tongeren of Bungoma County on July 15, 2020. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“The visit was humbling and  one of a kind. I felt wanted. I agreed to travel knowing very well that I was going to play not for myself but for the government,  media and fans who had showed me a lot of support,” she said.

Olouch, who served as a Sports Commissioner for 14 years before retiring late last year, said there was no way Ndasaba would have remained behind. Age, notwithstanding, the team was built around her,  he said.

“She was and still is a player I hold in high esteem. One of the greatest players this country will ever produced. Her discipline, hard work, and charisma was top- notch. She deserved a spot in the team,”  he said.

“After a lot of consultation among the Ministry of Sports officials, we saw it fit for Ndasaba to be recalled. I drove to Embakasi where she lived and we had a heart to heart talk. She agreed to travel to Japan and to me that was a sign of leadership and humility.”

Olouch said that no player should suffer the ordeal Ndasaba went through on grounds of age.

As the team boarded the plane to Japan at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport,  Ndasaba cut a desolate figure.

“I sat at the far end and it looked like I was not part of the team. But I had one mission, go play and prove a point,”  said Ndasaba.

Kenya, under head coach Abdul Muge, David Lung’aho and Sammy Kirongo,  faced hosts Japan, the US, Peru, Cuba, Thailand, Brazil, Serbia, South Korea, Peru, Dominican Republic, and eventual winners Italy.  Kenya lost all its games.

It was the match against Thailand that Ndasaba showed class and character.  She was named Player of the Match.

Although Kenya lost to Thailand 2-3 (15-25, 25-23, 25-22, 13-25, 10-15), Ndasaba starred. She was ranked 20th in the best player category at the end of the World Cup.

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Dorcas Ndasaba, a retired volleyball player and now a coach displays some of the trophies she won, during an interview at her home in Mitua Village, Tongeren of Bungoma County on July 15, 2020. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“Ndasaba was a player that every coach would want to be in his team. She was an all-rounder and a proper leader,” Lung’aho, who was the then assistant coach, said of the retired star.

On their way back to Kenya, Ndasaba once again found herself on a seat far from the rest of the team. The then Minister for Trade and Industry Mukhisa Kituyi – probably aware of what had befallen her in the run up to the event – asked her to join him in the first class.

“It was a blessing in disguise. Maybe I would never have travelled in first class again,” joked Ndasaba, who was a big fan of retired Cuban star Miyera Luis.

As the other members of the team waited for the touchdown to meet their loved ones, Ndasaba had other plans.

“I called it quits in full glare of the media. There is no way I would have stayed any longer. They wanted me out the first time, and I was not going to give them the satisfaction of kicking me out again. Besides, it is always good to leave at your peak,”  noted the left attacker.

Ndasaba said Kenyans would never have enjoyed her talent were it not for her secondary school teacher, Paul Wanyama. The coach was impressed by her height and jump when she was taking part in the school’s high jump competitions.

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Dorcas Ndasaba, a retired volleyball player and now a coach teaches children how to play the game, at her home in Mitua Village, Tongeren of Bungoma County on July 15, 2020. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“He asked me to switch sports, and I gladly obliged. Although our school was not doing well in volleyball, my love for the sport grew after participating in local events. The sport attracted crowds. I later dropped high jump and embraced volleyball,” she recalls.

The ninth born in a family of 10, six girls and four boys,  Ndasaba joined Nzoia Sugar Company team after clearing school in 1992 when her journey to stardom began.

Born 47-years-ago to the late Jared and Elicah Ndasaba in Naitiri village, Bungoma County, Ndasaba met Kenya Railways libero Mercy Wesutila during an event in Bungoma.

Wesutila saw her potential and advised her to join Nairobi Railways Club that was looking for players.

“I moved to Nairobi later that year. I knew no one, but the urge to make the next step was the motivation and push I needed. Luckily, the team had a club house in Makongeni Estate and that made me settle in pretty fast. I shared the house with two other players,” said Ndasaba.

“I played for Railways Club under Japanese coach Desmond Onishi before the then national team coach the deceased Gilbert ‘Fabisch’ Ohanya instigated my move to Kenya Posta and Telecommunication Company Club in 1993.”

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Dorcas Ndasaba, a retired volleyball player and now a coach feeds her cow at her home in Mitua Village, Tongeren of Bungoma County on July 15, 2020. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“Posta dominated the local league, winning titles and a couple of African Clubs Championships gongs. My career was on the rise, thanks to my powerful attacks and good blocks. I received a call up to the national team a year later for the World Championships in Japan but I was overlooked in the final squad.”

TRAINED WITH MEN

Ndasaba said Violet Barasa (deceased), Esther Ouna, Nancy Sikobe, Margaret Indakala, Mary Ayuma (deceased), Nancy Lusanji, Roselinda Obunaga, Hellen Elele and Esther Barno made the cut.

“I used to train with men and I guess that’s how I mastered the hard hitting attacks. I finally made a debut in the national team during the Africa Games in Abuja, Nigeria in 1995. Although I was not the first choice attacker, the few games I played in made the difference. I believe I left a lasting impression on the coach and I became a regular,” she said.

Ndasaba boasts of two World Cup appearances (1995, 2007), two  Olympic Games (2000, 2004), four World Championships (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006), two All Africa Games (1995, 1999) and four African Championships (1993, 1995, 1997, 2005 and 2007).

Japanese instructor, Sadatoshi Sugawara, who was then attached to KCB women’s volleyball team and was part of national team technical bench saw something special in Ndasaba and crafted her move alongside the late Barasa to Japanese side IshikawaJima Harima Club where they played from 1995 to 2002.

In between, they would come back home for national team duties. Ndasaba, who has lost count of her personal accolades, then played for Dubai side Al-Wasal in 2004, Rijeka Club in Croatia 2005/2006 and in Turkey with Club Yalova 2007/2008.

In 2008, she retired as a clerical officer at Posta and moved to Kenya Commercial Banck (KCB) under coach Bitok where she played for the bankers for two seasons before moving to Rwanda.

“We had a good working relationship with Bitok at KCB and after he moved to Rwanda, I linked up with him and played for Rwanda Patrotic Army (APR) for one season and Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) for two years,” she said.

In 2011, beach volleyball was introduced in the Africa Games rooster in Mozambique. Kenya didn’t have a team and Ndasaba partnered with Indakala, although they had never played the sport before.

“Surprisingly, we won bronze. Therefore, it goes without saying  that we were the pioneers of the sport in the country, “ said Ndasaba.

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Kenya national beach volleyball team player Dorcas Ndasaba receives the ball during a training session at the Nyali International Beach seafront ahead of 2011 All Africa Games which were held in Maputo, Mozambique. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Indakala, a former middle blocker and former Kenya Pipeline coach, said Ndasaba loved hard work.

“She was never pushed to do something. She was a winner. She was disciplined and one player who was ready to listen. I enjoyed playing with her and I hold those memories close,” noted Indakala.

Ndasaba was drafted in the Bungoma County women’s volleyball team technical bench that featured in the Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) National League in 2015.

After two seasons with the outfit, she returned to Rwanda for some “unfinished business.” She was appointed the head coach at RRA where she led them to a fifth place in their first ever Africa Clubs Championship appearance in Egypt. Hosts Al Ahly won the title.

Thereafter, Ndasaba was named the assistant coach to then Malkia Strikers head coach Japheth Munala during the 2017 World Championships qualifiers held in Cameroon.

BURIED THE HATCHET

She said that her inclusion in the Malkia Strikers technical showed the hatchet had been buried.

“There is no bad blood and we are at a good place with the federation. I was humbled after being appointed the assistant coach. I look forward to working with them in future,” said Ndasaba, now a farmer in Naitiri.

KVF first vice chairman Charles Nyaberi said the 2007 “confusion” was water under the bridge.

“Ndasaba is a legend. A player we encourage the upcoming ones to borrow a leaf from. She served the country with dignity and we will forever remain grateful for her services,”  said the official.

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Dorcas Ndasaba, a retired volleyball player and now a volleyball coach during an interview at her home in Mitua Village, Tongeren of Bungoma County on July 15, 2020. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Ndasaba challenged current players to invest with an eye on life after their active time on the courts.

“In this era, players are being paid a lot of money,  and in a way, it has made the majority of them lazy. Some don’t like training and want the easy way out,” she said.

By nation.co.ke

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Health

First man cured of HIV dies of cancer

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The first person to be cured of HIV, Timothy Ray Brown — known as the “Berlin Patient” — has died after a battle with cancer, the International Aids Society (IAS) announced Wednesday.

Brown made medical history and became a symbol of hope for the tens of millions of people living with the virus that causes AIDS when he was cured more than a decade ago.

He had been living with a recurrence of leukaemia for several months and received hospice care at his home in Palm Springs, California.

“On behalf of all its members… the IAS sends its condolences to Timothy’s partner, Tim, and his family and friends,” said IAS President Adeeba Kamarulzaman.

“We owe Timothy and his doctor, Gero Hutter, a great deal of gratitude for opening the door for scientists to explore the concept that a cure for HIV is possible.”

Brown was diagnosed with HIV while was studying in Berlin in 1995. A decade later, he was diagnosed with leukaemia, a cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.

To treat his leukaemia, his doctor at the Free University of Berlin used a stem cell transplant from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation that gave him natural resistance to HIV, hoping it may wipe out both diseases.

It took two painful and dangerous procedures, but it was a success: in 2008 Brown was declared free of the two ailments, and was initially dubbed “the Berlin Patient” at a medical conference to preserve his anonymity.

Two years later, he decided to break his silence and went on to become a public figure, giving speeches and interviews and starting his own foundation.

“I am living proof that there could be a cure for AIDS,” he told AFP in 2012. “It’s very wonderful, being cured of HIV.”

‘Champion’

Ten years after Brown was cured, a second HIV sufferer — dubbed “the London Patient” — was revealed to be in remission 19 months after undergoing a similar procedure.

The patient, Adam Castillejo, is currently HIV-free. In August a California woman was reported to have no traces of HIV despite not using anti-retroviral treatment.

It is thought she may be the first person to be cured of HIV without undergoing the risky bone marrow treatment.

Sharon Lewin, president-elect of the IAS and director of the Doherty Institute in Melbourne, Australia, praised Brown as a “champion and advocate” of a cure for HIV.

“It is the hope of the scientific community that one day we can honour his legacy with a safe, cost-effective and widely accessible strategy to achieve HIV remission and curs using gene edition or techniques that boost immune control,” she said.

By AFP

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Lifestyle

Madaraka Express resumes full service

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All is set for the resumption of a second Nairobi-Mombasa passenger train, with the first locomotive expected to leave the capital city on October 1 at 2.15pm.

In a notice, Madaraka Express operator Afristar said standard gauge railway (SGR) passenger train services will resume following the lifting of partial transport restrictions in Nairobi and Mombasa by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The firm released a new schedule for the trains that shuttle between the two counties.

KR has been operating two passenger trains between Nairobi and Mombasa, but from Thursday, it will operate four.

SGR passenger services resumed operations in July, a week after President Kenyatta relaxed measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Afristar will now have trains leaving Nairobi and Mombasa at the same time in the morning and two other trains leaving in the afternoon.

Morning trains from the two cities will depart at 8.00am, with one train departing from the Nairobi terminus for Mombasa and vice versa.

Thereafter, two other trains will depart Mombasa and Nairobi at 2.15pm.

The train services will be operating under strict coronavirus protocols.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the SGR will operate at 50 per cent capacity, with an extra coach for isolation.

To facilitate the smooth resumption of services, Afristar has deployed 10 coaches, including eight economy and two first-class coaches.

This is in line with Mr Macharia’s statement that 10 coaches should be provided to ferry close to 600 passengers on a one-way trip.

Additionally, all customer-facing employees must wear masks and gloves.

As of this morning, all passenger service staff serving customers have tested negative for Covid-19.

SGR passenger services were suspended back in April after President Kenyatta announced the cessation of movement into and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area, Mombasa County and Mandera County.

On Monday, the Head of State announced an extension of the daily dusk-to-dawn curfew for an additional 60 days.

He, however, adjusted the curfew time from 9pm to 11pm with the new directives taking effect on Tuesday, September 29.

By Nation.co.ke

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Courts

Man accused of sodomising minor attacks magistrate for the second time

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A man accused of sodomising a three and half-year-old boy on Wednesday turned violent in court and attempted to attack the magistrate.

Ismael Mustafa for the second time turned violent and attempted to attack Chief Magistrate Edna Nyaloti prompting her to run out of the court.

He had previously, in early September 2020, charged towards the magistrate while she was busy writing down proceedings forcing the shaken magistrate to scamper for safety even leaving her shoes behind.

Nyaloti was making a ruling on whether Mustafa has a case to answer. She later forgave him and the trial continued.

“Cuff him, this is the second time he is turning violent and attempting to attack me,” said the Chief Magistrate.

It took the intervention of the court orderlies and prison officers to contain Mustafa who turned aggressive towards the magistrate.

The officers wrestled him down to the floor and cuffed him before marching him out of the courts.

Nyaloti was forced to retreat to her chambers in fear of her safety after Mustafa started to charge towards her.

It is alleged that on February 16, 2019, at Bangladesh area in Jomvu, he sodomised XY- a child aged three and a half years.

He denied the charges and was released on a bond of  Sh200, 000 with a similar surety.

Repeated offence

According to police records, Mustafa had been previously charged with sodomising another minor and was sentenced but later was acquitted by the High Court upon appeal.

Today, other court matters were forced to adjourn to allow the prison officers to escort him out of the court.

Mustafa had on several occasions become arrogant and interrupted the court proceedings.

Despite the magistrate listening to his rants and complaints without interruption, the accused became adamant, was dissatisfied and decided to turn violent.

He demanded to have his charges read to him afresh and said that when the charge sheet was amended, it was not read to him as he demanded to have the matter started afresh.

Nyaloti laboured to explain that the court record indicated that the charges were read to him by the prosecution once the charges were amended.

However, Mustafa insisted that he wanted the matter transferred to another court and demanded that the magistrate determines whether he has a case to answer or not.

“Your honour there is no need for you to proceed with the ruling. I have no faith in your court and want you to transfer the matter before another court. I want the high court to decide on this matter because I feel justice is not being done,” said Mustafa.

Mustafa declined to allow the magistrate to make a ruling and said that he won’t ever attend the court until he is allocated another court.

Mustafa proceeded to utter abusive and unprintable language in court and swore that he will not come back to court ever.

The magistrate had given him time in the last trial to file his application before the high court to have the matter determined afresh.

“I have no objection if you want to file your application before the high court to have the matter transferred to another court but meanwhile the case will proceed before me until you get an order stating otherwise,” said Nyaloti.

BY STandardmedia.co.ke

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