When former Minister of State for External Affairs of India, Mr. Anand Sharma visited Sierra Leone in 2009, it wasn’t just a high-level visit of a key dignitary visiting a promising African nation; it signalled nothing less than resumption of ties between two countries that last evidenced a ministerial visit a decade back in time.
In the years hence, even as India doesn’t actually have a full fledged embassy in the Sierra Leonian capital of Freetown (as yet) with the trade between the two nations still being limited, particularly post the outbreak of Ebola during 2014-15, relations between the nations are far more recognisable in the context of exports and imports and this sphere is gradually burgeoning.
Most Internet searches on the existing commercial engagement between the two nations would tell you that while India exports drugs, pharmaceuticals, textiles and even eggs to the country, it also imports woodpulp, waste paper, and even titanium ores from Sierra Leone.
Though in truth, that’s not the only link that exists between two countries separated by a gap of no fewer than 9,748 kilometres.
Cricket, was, still is, the other major connector.
Interestingly, at the heart of this connect stands a certain Bhuvneshwar Kumar of India. Though the sheer uncanniness of it all is that India’s celebrated swing bowler, someone responsible for 270 international wickets, himself may not be aware of it.
And how would “Bhuvi” even know when the person because of whom he, arguably speaking, became ingrained in everyday cricketing discussion in Sierra Leone is no more?
That very person who adored Bhuvneshwar Kumar so much that besides idolising him, he even insisted that George Edward Ngegba, his captain at the Midwest Cricket club – as also the rest of its members- addressed him as “Bhuvi.”
That very talented, up-and-coming and vastly talented youth cricketer of Sierra Leone who’s been laid to rest, would you believe it, at age fifteen.
2007 was a momentous year for world cricket. Lisa Sthalekar, a legend of the sport, emerged the “player of the series” in a massively followed quadrangular event featuring her Australia, India, New Zealand and England.
It would be the year where true legends of the sport- Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, the latter no longer with us- last played international cricket.
2007 unfurled the first ever edition of the T20 World Cup and would, in the wake of the Men’s ODI World Cup in the Caribbean, unfurl polarising emotions.
While Australia, under Ponting, lifted the trophy yet again, the prized tournament also marked the end of the road for legends like Inzamam-ul-Haq and a certain Brian Lara.
It was precisely this year, where miles away from the epicentre of massive cricketing events, a baby was born in Sierra Leone; one whose sole objective in life later, as it turned out, would be to play international cricket for his country.
Mohamed Kamara, who, instead of bowling economical spells, strapping batsmen for a complete dearth of runs, which he so effectively did even in crunch T20 situations in club cricket, is nowhere on the pitch where he ceaselessly belonged.
Instead, he’s been put to rest. That very budding international Sierra Leonian cricketer who could be in any state, but that of rest for he had cricket in his veins, with endless discussions regarding improving his own craft the only way of existing in life.
The constantly thinking, cricket obsessed, talented all-rounder, who was perhaps more thoughtful than most fifteen years olds his age, is perhaps looking at us from some garland-adorned wall in his Freetown household, which pops the question- just who was this youth cricketer, whose demise has stunned his nation and left his captain George Ngegba and with him, the cricketing contingent back in his country at an absolute loss of words?
It may not be incorrect to gauge that we are in an age where repetitiveness in anything in life- whether the menu on the dinner table or seemingly overdone selfies can signal something dull.
But what is one to do when the WhatsApp status of a cricketer, in the past 48 hours, bears a mark of extreme repetition; the only WhatsApp updates that George Edward Ngegba’s phone has happened to carry are that of the passing of Mohamed Kamara and just how big a loss that really is.
Moved by the outpouring of grief but knowing little else to do other than attempting to understand what that is, Caught At Point interacted with George in its attempt to make a sense of the enormity of the loss Sierra Leone’s cricket establishment is facing in the wake of Mohamed Kamara’s passing.
The following is what Mohamed Kamara’s mentor, George Edward Ngegba had to say:
Born on the 15th November, 2007 at the Kingtom Police Barracks, Mohamed Kamara, it still hasn’t dawned on us, that he’s no more.
He was also the younger brother of the late Haroun Kamara who was also a player in the Sierra Leone U19 men’s team and the Midwest Cricket Club.
Mohamed was nicknamed Komeh since his childhood days.
How did he get into cricket
Mohamed was the last amongst his pears to start playing cricket and he only started playing cricket in 2018 after he was motivated by his late elder brother Haroun Kamara’s heroics at domestic and ICC level.
Like many other young Cricketers, Mohamed was one of my Mentee who tried to emulate me in and out of cricket.
When he came to know that my cricket Idol was Yuvraj Singh and we shared the same jersey number “12” he took it upon himself to search which international Cricketer could he idolise and was amazed to find Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Perhaps because they are both opening bowlers and extremely economical at the same time.
Since then, he made Bhuvi his international mentor and started emulating his bowling action and told all of us to start calling him Bhuvi whilst bowling.
What made Mohamed a special player
was his ability to be a proper Cricketer and better all rounder who can also read the read apply himself with little or no instructions from Coaches, Captains and senior players.
He was both the opening Bowler and opening Batsman for all the teams and clubs he played for and was performing better in both aspects.
He was such a honest, selfless, hard working, go-getter, deligent and intelligent Cricketer. He always strive for the best and wants to improve.
Mohamed was always the first to be at the training ground during the afternoon session.
He will be there an hour or 2 before practicing before anyone else could arrive there.
Association with Midwest Cricket Club
For the past 3 years, he had been an integral part of the Midwest Cricket Club and was one of the contributing factors and was solely responsible for us winning a match.
As a bowler
He gave us a lot of dot balls in the powerplay and takes important and crucial wickets when the team needs them.
He always made things easier for us.
While batting, he wasn’t the one to give us three figures, but offered important runs. He built great partnerships whenever we were in a crisis. He was always the man who wanted to face the first ball if given the chance.
In terms of playing he was having the biggest role in the Midwest Cricket Club. Sometimes he opens the batting and other times he comes in late just as the situation demands and gave his immense contributions.
Whenever we were in need of runs or required crucial wickets, we counted- and called upon- him for we knew he’d surely deliver.
When the MCC toured Sierra Leone in 2019, he was the one that had the most number of dot balls. He went for an economy that was below 4 an over for the U19 team.
Mohamed changed his natural and original batting stance just to replicate mine as a sign of he being my Mentee. He wanted to do far better than me when the opportunity came.
That hunger. That desire. It was quite extraordinary.
From the little he has known in cricket, he was always making himself available to help train some female U19 players and other budding young cricketers.
His biggest dream in recent times was to go and represent Sierra Leone for the first time at ICC level and become Champions😭😭💔💔.
He had already started preparing himself and started packing his luggage for the time.
He has left a big role in the U19 team and Midwest Cricket Club, one that none can fill, not within the next 4 to 5 years.
He was the best player that Sierra Leone have had and yet, one that wasn’t lucky enough to represent us at the International level.
Had so much to offer by virtue of his talent.
We are really saddened and devastated about the early and painful exit of Mohamed Kamara affectionately known as Bhuvi.
May his soul and the soul of his elder brother Haroun Kamara continue to rest in peace.