July 5, 2010, (ALEK) - The body of Manut Bol, an international basketball star, who died recently at the age of forty seven years in the United states of America, was finally laid to rest on Sunday in his ancestral home village of Turalei in the Southern Sudan’s state of Warrap.
- Members of Sudan-born NBA star Manute Bol’s family and locals lower his casket into the ground during his funeral in the town of Turalei in Warap state, southern Sudan July 4, 2010 (Reuters)
Bol’s body was brought to Southern Sudan on Saturday via the regional capital of Juba. A large crowd of mourners lined up at the airport to pay their final tribute to a national hero remembered for his developmental and humanitarian assistances at home as well as his sporting brilliancy in his new adopted home of the United States.
The casket was received by Warrap state governor, Nyandeng Malek Doliech, who facilitated all the necessary burial arrangements.
Bol, whose height of 7-foot-7 (2.31 meters) drew him international fame to become one of the richest Dinka. His height helped him to rising from a typical Dinka young man in the remotest village in a poor area of the richest oil-producing country, where he was looking after family herds of cattle to becoming an internationally renowned professional basketball player.
Following his death on June 19, 2010, the charity he worked with to build schools in Sudan said the cause of his death was kidney failure and painful skin disease known as ‘Stevens-Johnson syndrome.’
His body briefly stayed in Juba to allow mourners pay their final respect as demanded by senior officials of the Government of Southern Sudan before taking it to his ancestral home village of Turalei in Warrap state and was buried near his grandfather’s grave on Sunday.
Discovered while playing in the streets of Khartoum and taken to the United States, he became a fan favorite for Washington, Golden State, Philadelphia and Miami.
Even though Manut Bol was not the tallest ordinary person in the world, he was tied for the record as the tallest basketball player ever to play in the NBA and owns the career record for most blocked shots per 48 minutes of playing time.
In Sudan’s semi-autonomous south, he was known for his charitable work, particularly during the decades-long civil war between north and south Sudan that ended with the 2005 peace deal between North and South.
Nyandeng Malek, governor of Warrap state at the burial on Sunday described Bol as a true nationalist and the tallest man in the NBA, adding that everybody in the Sudan as a whole enjoyed the international fame he was getting.
“Everybody in this country was ever proud of Manut for having been not only the best NBA player but also for his height that helped others look for Sudan in the global map. He was no one’s person. He represented at the regional level, country, continental and globally. He was an international player,” she said.
“We remember him for his leadership during the struggle ... He gave his money, he talked and he advocated for the people of Southern Sudan,” she said, further explaining that Bol used to pay for refugee airlifts during the war and visited Southern Sudan during this April’s national elections campaign for people to vote despite signs of his illness.
“With our tradition, the remains of the body must go back to where he was born. His grave will be shown to generations to come,” she added.
Achuil Malith Bangol, SPLM Secretary for syndicated organizations at the Southern Sector, also in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Monday described Manut to have been an eye opener for developmental and humanitarian assistances in his village as well as in Southern Sudan in particular and Sudan in general.
“Manute has a lot of successful things to be told about him. A lot of people have benefited from his support as group and as individuals including myself as one of the beneficiaries,” said Achuil.
“I benefited from him through an indigenous organization called Supraid that managed to drill lot of boreholes in most remote areas of Bahr el Ghazal and helped trained young basket[ball] players, some of whom are currently abroad practicing sporting career,” he explained.
“At the political level he was very much concerned with the devastating war in the country and the humanitarian suffering our people had experienced during the last two decades of civil war between the North and South. He was a very effective advocate for the cause of his people in the US Congress, among policy makers in general and in the wider humanitarian constituencies in the concerned world,” he added.
Makuc Makuc Ngongdit, SPLM State Secretary General and Political Affairs advisor in Warrap state equally echoed the same and said Warrap state was proud [of Manut] and sincerely thanked him, though dead, for bringing up the name of his state and country.
“He was the best servant and has done exceptionally well in both humanitarian and developmental aid. He did not lose connections with people while away despite the fact that he was one of the richest Dinka [tribesmen] and famous international player in the world,” he said.
LOCAL ADMINISTRATION GIVES THREE DAYS OF MOURNING
The Commissioner of Twic County, Colonel Dominic Deng Kuoc Malek, has announced three days of mourning for the death of Manut Bol and asked the County government employees not to report to work places.
“In remembrance of Manut Bol as [a] national hero, my administration in consultation with state governor decided to give government employees three days break from work to mourn his death as our hero and a brother,” Commissioner Malek said.
The Twic County commissioner recalled that late Manut was one of the basketball players that inspired him to like sports. “Manut with a lot of achievements known by many was one of the people that inspired me to remain soccer fan today, he said, announcing that his administration gives three days to government employees with effect from Monday.
Sudan Sunrise, a charity that worked with Manut and set up a school in his name in Turalei, said he fell seriously ill after becoming separated from his medicines on his last trip to Sudan.
“Ultimately, he succumbed to a combination of kidney failure and Stevens-Johnson syndrome," said the organization on its website.