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Baraka, the success of the "guy of salt"

From Ngomeni to Harambee Stars, a dream came true

15-04-2017 by Freddie del Curatolo

Sun and salted sand, blinding white that goes to fade fast in the passing clouds, as if the earth of Africa wanted to shake off a nagging patina.
The green of the bush is punctuated by tall palms contours and slopes until, won dall'arsura, it turns blue.
Far away, you can see the platform for space research base of Italian San Marco.
In this surreal scene, unprecedented glimpse Kenyan fourteen years ago was born Baraka Badi.
We Ngomeni, thirty kilometers from Malindi, on the road leading north toward Somalia.
Here in 1965 an Italian scientist, Professor Luigi Broglio, falling from Mogadishu, where he landed, he spotted the right place to install an aerospace research center.
Meridian One, a few hundred kilometers below the equator.
The technicians who arrived were the first Italians to take root on the Kenyan coast.
Some of them still live here and have grown the Baraka parents. They've watched wallow in the sun, keep their skin in salt-resistant for years.
In fact, in addition to basic Ngomeni San Marco, there are salt marshes.
Dazzling white expanses to go barefoot, heaps of hot stones to shovel.
The salt pans are one of the few possibilities of job security for the inhabitants of the area.
The lucky ones were made by technicians Mzungu, others just have salt.
Tough Life saline: skin that burns and breaks, unacceptable working conditions.
Among the white crystals he has consumed one of the first Kenyans strikes.
The salt companies or government in the hands of rich Indians, workers feel exploited no less than to the British colonialism. Of course, you can fish shrimps, in the midst of saline, and round with those. But then who has time to sell? At the end I put them on the bicycle of a cousin, loads them on a matatu with a friend trying the adventure of going to place them in Malindi and returns almost always empty-handed, or with two small coins for you and the rest in the stomach or in the throat.
Then you return to the carpet of white nails, you wrap your feet and head with rags, they fix the old Sun bought lenses of Garsen market with tape and embraces the spade. For one euro a day.
Al Baraka father never liked the salt.
He began to strike while the iron and tin as a boy.
Every now and then he lent his arms to San Marco, and after years of practice, some Mzungu of the work area.
When the job for the white, there is some money to send to school children, but does not always happen.
Sometimes for months and months you have to live by their wits, invent jobs or know that you terminate your day with fifty shillings in his pocket, and you'll have money to share with your wife and kids pound of porridge and a plate of beans.
Often they are not even the beans, and then he soaks the polenta in salted water.
The damn salt.
Baraka is the fourth of five children. The older sister Amina was brought to his studies, but he had to leave high school to the third year.
There were no money for fees and books. Mariam, the second child, he preferred to get married at sixteen and soon gave birth to the first child thinking that, who knows, maybe when will his age things will be different, maybe will guarantee him a better future.
Amani instead decided he did not want to study.
He lives by his wits, cultivates spinach and fatalism, helped his father and kills the days as if they were snakes.
Baraka six years finds his feet half balloon deflated and patched and understands what is your passion.
Every day after school, running to the football field, two iron doors between the saline and the dusty road leading to the base.
Dribble the stones, the tufts of grass, natural soil hump. His first opponents, all set against the misfortunes of life.
Baraka shooting, passing, fast and very soon enter the junior team of Ngomeni. Look at the big boys those who, finished his schooling, there remains only the ball.
"They do not want to work the salt but do not see a different future. Their day is a football match and after resting in the shade of a palm tree. They live from day to day, hoping to eat at least once before bedtime. Just the slightest ambition to just lose. "
A Baraka like to study and is not going to go the way of Amina sister. He understands that its future is far from Ngomeni.
So he trains harder than others and at twelve he finds himself in the team with eighteen.
It puts defense on the wing, and waits for the ball to emerge as a chance to prove that they are already big and you want to grow.
It 's so that a few years ago, approaching the Genoa football school.
Rare to find a boy so young with such a fierce will.
To hear him talk, just arrived, it seems to be in front of a little man.
"I like to study and play football and when I realized that in Malindi I could do what I've always dreamed of, I had no hesitation. I tried. During the selections I have given my all to achieve that goal. "
Baraka fixed his goal, he wants to get one day to play in the Kenyan Premier League, but if you had to choose, would prefer to go to university.
"Maybe, with my salary as a player, I could graduate and become a professor. I would love to one day teach children to love the study because it is an exciting way to defeat, in our small, poverty. "
For Baraka culture is a salvation, but football is a training ground for life.
"To become a good player you must first learn the rules and respect them. If you do not know the basics of this team play and do it your way, you do not get anywhere. Even in life is so, I think. I play quarterback, but I could also advance in midfield, I like players who use the intelligence in the field, even before his foot. My favorite champion is Xavi, the director of Barcelona. Within seconds, even before receiving the ball, he already knows what he will do. "
At fourteen he has a maturity that makes you shiver of hope.
From football school "social" pass soon to the first team of Malindi United.
And 'the youngest and also the less high.
But his legs from fatigue and his desire to never come back he has to climb positions.
At sixteen he owns, at seventeen is the best in school.
Even Malindi begins to narrow keep up.
And 'so that is shipped north, in the gym football Premier League: Thika United.
Where before they finish their studies, then he made his debut in the championship. Before men, then players.
Baraka is already a man, but the smile is still that of a child who is carrying what they could not even dream of, because even in dreams seemed too.
But the merit is his alone.
Eighteen years after his debut in Serie A Kenyan and a decent salary, all his.
Today, that has winds, already has some presence in the Under-21 and made the first internship with the Harambee Stars, the national team alongside players like Victor Wanyama, who plays in England with Tottenham Hotspurs, second in the standings, and earns in a week what his father, saline, failed to take home in a lifetime.
Do not stop dreaming, Baraka, who kicked salt underfoot and ancestral resignation of his friends Ngomeni, and now the rooms have it only in the head.

TAGS: Genoa MalindiScuola Calcio KenyaFreddie del Curatolo

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