WIBC: Bantu fans the flames of unity

Arthur Zulu from Team Bantu, Zambia. Photo credit: Sam Houston State

Rhonda Lee McIsaac —

Team Bantu, Zambia returns to the territory of the Musqueam First Nation, upon which the University of British Columbia (UBC) stands. They are excited to play against other indigenous teams from North America and international teams in the 2017 World Indigenous Basketball Challenge. All are in a bid to become the men’s or women’s 2017 WIBC Champions.

Chazemba Shamaila; small forward, answered on behalf of Team Bantu, Zambia.

What made you want to participate in this year’s WIBC?

We decided to participate in this year’s WIBC because we had an outstanding experience last year.

Sports is such a big part of our culture and the WIBC provides a unique platform of bringing individuals from various communities, countries, and cultures and having them blend for a week. This is priceless! Right after last year’s WIBC tournament ended, we were already looking forward to 2017.

The WIBC allowed us to enjoy two important things: sports and people. We got to play basketball and make new connections with people from all over the world, but we went beyond just basketball – we shared stories, ate together, laughed and shared knowledge about the game and just had a lot of fun.

We also wanted to come back this year in order to continue to enjoy the platform that the WIBC provides for us to represent and share our culture for the world to see and enjoy. Our motto in Zambia is “One Zambia One Nation” basically we take pride in our culture of 73 different tribes all sharing the vision that we are all one and team BANTU is back in 2017 with the same message, “We are all one”.

How have you prepared for this basketball tournament? Is there anything special about your preparations that would set you apart from other teams?

Throughout the last year, we have had individual practices, playing in various leagues. Our team is composed of players that are spread out from Houston, Alberta, London, Michigan, San Diego, BC and San Francisco. Then we all get together the weekend before the tournament starts to run some practices and have some warm up games.

I think the one thing that sets us apart is that our team is composed of players that have played together for 10+ years. Some of us go way back since high school basketball up until we played in Zambia Basketball League as teammates.

Chansa Mbao played the ZBA north for Nkana Bullets, Alvin Mwila, Chazemba Shamaila and Arthur Zulu played together at NAPSA Hurricanes (Lusaka Zambia), Musa Ramadan, Eneke Chobe and Arthur Zulu played together at Premium Hawks (Lusaka Zambia). Cosam Malenga and Kelvin Musuku also played in the ZBA with Munali Suns and Barclays Magic (Lusaka Zambia) respectively. Casey Paulsen and Chazemba Shamaila played together is a league in South San Francisco, California and Ashton Mitchell played alongside Arthur Zulu at Sam Houston State, Texas, Ashton Mitchell later played in the Latvian Basketball league with Valmiera. So, I think what sets us apart is a combination of experience and chemistry. Throughout the years, we got used to playing with each other and blending into a well-oiled machine.

Have you prepared anything for the cultural portion of the WIBC?

Yes, we have! Though you’ll have to come to the show to see us perform.

Do you wish to say anything to the fans who will be watching or listening to the games?

The first thing we would love to say is thank you! The fans are outstanding in showing support to all the teams. So, we want to say thank you because you the fans create such a unique atmosphere both in the arena and in spirit for those that are listening. Please continue to provide the support, because without your support this whole tournament would not be possible.

Come in numbers, bring your families, friends, kids and cultures, we want to know and learn about you and you about us. Looking forward to seeing you at the games.

Is there a special story that you’d like to share with the fans about a member of your basketball team?

The special story that we would like to share has to do with Arthur Zulu. With the challenges of how difficult it is to pay for higher education today, Arthur was like many who in order to go to college would have to get student loans and pay high interests after. But Arthur used his gifts, talents and worked hard in basketball and was awarded various scholarships to play on an NCAA program, he chose Sam Houston State University where he excelled both on the court and even more importantly academically. Arthur graduated with a degree in Business Administration debt free and later went on to acquire a Master’s in Business Administration. Arthur attributes all this success to his upbringing and using his talent in playing the game of basketball.

Game 7: Team Bantu, Zambia will play against Vancouver Strathcona at 8pm at the UBC War Memorial Gym on Wednesday August 9th, 2017.

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