Thursday, July 7, 2011

Shebani Kabura Is Living His Dreams

Playing at the UK Tour in May 2010
My name is Shebani Kabura. I was born in 1998 at a place call Buyenzi in Burundi. Buyenzi is a very small slum known widely in Eastern Africa, just like Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, where there is no electricity, water is hard to find and very few toilets. I was brought up in a very poor family and grow up in a very bad environment. My parents are both jobless and we are ten in our family. I have been playing tennis since I was 8 years old. I used to follow my older brother, Amadi Kagoma, to a local tennis club in Bujumbura, where I would help Amadi when he played with rich members and their children, while picking balls, in order to get some money to pay for our school fees, buy ourselves clothes and food for our family.

I learned a lot while copying my brother Amadi, and he always said that he would one day to go to a good school and get a good job, like many of the rich kids did. When he joined Malezi School in 2006, I was very happy for him, but very sad, because I could no longer follow him. In 2007, when I was 9 years old, Kassie McIlvaine, who had sponsored Amadi to Malezi told me that she would help me go for a special camp in Sadili, and if the lady there liked me, then I would get to join Amadi. I was very excited! I went with a team of players from Burundi, many of us from Buyenzi slum. When we were there, we met many other kids from around Africa and made friends. That is when I met Dr. Liz Odera, who was in charge of Sadili Oval. For two weeks we worked very hard and learned about life and played tennis for many hours. Then some of us were chosen to go for interviews at Malezi School. I was very scared. I did not pass the interview well, but I was one of the 3 children chosen that year, because of my hard work during the camp.  I remember that Coach George Muga taught me my backhand during that camp, I had never played a backhand before.
I joined Malezi School the next year, and now I was very happy, because I was back with my brother and he looked after me until I made my own friends. Catching up with school was hard because I had to learn English as we spoke French in Burundi, and I often got into trouble because I did not understand what the teacher was saying and reading was hard for me so I would do my homework. The only subject I liked was Maths because the symbols were easy to understand.  I enjoy tennis, and training is very tough. I am working hard to pass my final primary exams this year, and I am praying that Dr. Liz chooses me to join the Sadili Talent Training Academy, next year, where I can balance school and tennis and play many junior tournaments like my brother is doing. I am now ranked number 1 in the Boys Under 16 Tennis Africa Cup, and number 10 in the Confederation of Africa Tennis. With Sadili, I have travelled to America in 2009, where I won a Boys Under 14 tournament. I don’t know what I want to be in the future, but I know that it will have a tennis racquet.