News / Africa

The Late Manute Bol Remembered as a Giant in His Native Sudan

Sudan activist Joe Madison hopes more internationally recognized athletes would have the same spirit of giving that Manute Bol had


James Butty

Sudanese-born National Basketball Association player Manute Bol, who passed away over the weekend, is being remembered as a kind giant who did a lot to help his country people.

The two-point-three meter tall Bol, one of the tallest players in the history of the NBA, died Saturday at age 47 at a Charlottesville, Virginia hospital.

The late Manute Bol
The late Manute Bol

Joe Madison, an African-American radio talk show host and former president of the Sudan Campaign Coalition, worked with the late Manute Bol on returning South Sudanese refugees to their homeland.

Madison said Bol was a tall giant in his native Sudan.

“The passing of Manute Bol was really sad news number one because he was so young and so active beyond basketball. Most people knew him as a 7 foot 7 basketball player but, in real life, he was a very tall giant in his own country,” he said.

Madison recalled his work with Bol as they both campaigned to return South Sudan refugees back to their villages in Sudan by demonstrating outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington, D.C.

Sudan refugees
Sudan refugees

Bol, who played for four NBA teams, including the Washington Bullets, now known as the Wizards, before his death reportedly led the NBA with 397 blocked shots, still the second-highest in NBA history.

Despite the fact that his highest salary in the NBA was a reported $1.5 million, the late Bol was able to help his people.

Madison hopes other more internationally recognized athletes will emulate Bol’s spirit of giving.

“I think it’s a lesson that quite honestly many athletes in this country learned from indigenous Africans who found wealth through their athletic abilities and returned to their countries or to their communities and wanted to make life better. And, I wish more would have the same spirit of giving that Manute Bol had. He was very much a man committed to a cause bigger than himself,” Madison said.

A report in the Sunday edition of the Washington Post newspaper said Bol remained devoted to his homeland and its customs.

The report recalled the time when Bol proposed to his Dinka wife and gave her family 80 cows as a gift.

The Washington Post report also said Bol once donated an estimated $3.5 million to a Dinka-led rebel group.

The report said Bol was almost destitute in 2001 and began appearing in promotional stunts, such as celebrity boxing matches, to raise funds for his homeland.

“He understood what a lot of athletes go through in this country, particularly when they seem to be extraordinary. Here was a man who people tried to commercialize. He refused to allow himself to be commercialized just for the sake of enriching his own lot. He did it just to save lives,” Madison said.

The cause of Bol's death was not made public, but he had been hospitalized several weeks before with severe kidney trouble. He fell ill while returning home from his native Sudan where he had gone to work on a school-building project, and to help fight election corruption.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs