Kingsley Mamabolo is leaving Nigeria after posting a successful tenure as the South Africa Ambassador to the country. The South African diplomat was a hugely popular figure at the IBB International Golf and Country Club, Abuja, for his service as the Ex-officio member.
It was in acknowledgement of this that a joint valedictory golf kitty was held in Abuja midweek for him and Ambassador Clifford Maribe of the Botswana High Commission.
Mamabolo was outstanding in deploying his immense energies in using golf to promote business partnership between Nigeria and South Africa.
Outside Abuja, he regularly visited the second benchmark golf course, the Ibom Resort in Uyo, on the southern tip of Nigeria, as way of underscoring the tourism potential of the country and encouraged Nigerian business golfers to travel to South Africa for business and leisure.
An approval of his far reaching initiatives came in form of the 18th MTN World Golfers Championship held in Durban last month, where Nigeria caught the eye with the largest delegation of business golfers in the world invitational category.
There was also a fairly large Nigerian presence at the 17th world championship in Kwa-Zulu Natal Province and the World Corporate Golf Challenge in Georges, last year.
But it is not a one-way traffic as a handful of South African visitors and business executives are fond of playing in Uyo and Abuja, as Nigeria is a major market for South Africa Airways and MTN.
"I am very grateful to the IBB International Golf and Country Club for organizing the kitty for us; I appreciate it. As an ex-officio of the club, it is sad leaving the country before the expiration of my tenure because Nigeria is like a home to me. All the people that I met while playing golf here are like brothers to me," Mamabolo quipped.
He also revealed of the on going effort of South Africa to initiate a lasting international golf tournament for the two countries.
He said: "We (South Africa) have a big effort in the direction of starting an international golf tournament with Nigeria. South Africans always come to Nigeria to participate in international golf tournaments, same for Nigerians going to South Africa for events. Our plan is to improve on that in years to come".
IBB Club Captain Tony Azogu, said that the valedictory kitty for Mamabolo and Maribe was epochal because the envoys easily blended into the lifestyle of the club.
"This event is the first of its kind in the history of IBB Club. This is a call on other envoys to emulate the two gentlemen who distinguished themselves by making great contributions to the development of the club," Azogu said.
Nanfe Audu emerged the winner in the ladies category with the nett score of 78 while E.Orim fired 69 nett to claim the men's honour. Emeka Ikatta came in with 75 to win the gross prize.