Manute Bol, a former National Basketball player and humanitarian from Sudan, died recently of natural causes at the age of 47. Bol, who at the time was the tallest player in history, played for several NBA teams from 1985-1994. He still holds or shares a number of records for blocking shots. But it is humanitarian work that merits his memorialization.
Bol, a Christian from the Dinka tribe, donated most of his millions of dollars in earnings to humanitarian work in Sudan. In Bol’s native Southern Sudan, the Arab Muslim-dominated government based in Khartoum in the northern part of Sudan, committed gross human rights abuses, including murder and enslavement, against the mostly Christian and animist South over a two-decades long war that resulted in the deaths of one to two million people. Bol not only donated and raised money for his suffering countrymen, but raised public awareness about the plight of the Southern Sudanese. He was forced by the Muslim Northern Sudanese government to become a refugee from Sudan, settling in the United States, where he resided at the time of his death. Bol was continuing his work with the Southern Sudanese government in a humanitarian capacity.
Bol, a national hero in Southern Sudan, is an example of how a Christian can sanctify athletics.
The Administration of President George W. Bush negotiated a settlement of the Sudanese Civil War. As part of the agreement, a plebiscite on independence for Southern Sudan is scheduled for next year. However, as I noted in my post from April of this year, Analysis of the Sudanese Elections, the government in Khartoum may be backpedaling from its promise to allow the plebiscite. In addition, the Arab Muslim Northern Sudanese government is responsible for the ongoing genocide being committed against black Muslims in the western Sudanese province of Darfur. I hope that Bol’s death reminds the world of the suffering in Sudan from a government with one of the worst human rights records in the world today.