Caxias Do Sul — The 24th Summer Deaflympics has proven to be a totally enjoyable culinary experience for Team Kenya for many reasons.
What to eat has, by and large, remained a daily hard choice for the team members because everything on the menu is so good as what is available back home.
Rice, chicken, boiled potatoes, locally grown kales (skuma wiki), cabbage, meat and sausages are some of the delicacies Kenyans continue to enjoy through and through in Brazil's remote southern town.
But one man has indeed become an off-the-pitch star attraction not for his magnificent role as a Deaf sign language interpreter for the Deaf athletes, but for his terrific cooking skills when matters Ugali fall into place.
Ali Abdi is the man who has been preparing Ugali for Team Kenya in Caxias do Sul and, in the process, ensures that Kenya's staple food isn't missed by any of the team members.
When the team flew to Brazil, they carried sufficient maize flour (unga) for use during the prestigious Games.
Asked about his new role as a "cook", and why Ugali, Abdi narrated: "Ugali symbolizes strength in our culture, and it's also very delicious when eaten with other delicacies. It was important for us to have something for ourselves from home that would give us confidence and connect us to home."
Everything here is different. Even though the food might be the same as what Kenyans eat back home, it still looks and tastes different.
"Our ugali was just like what we have back home. We carried everything we needed to prepare it and we shared it together as a team for team spirit."
The food in Brazil is typically the same as the what is served in Kenya with just a bit of variation in taste and how it's made here.
"We've been doing rice, beans, kamande, cabbage, chicken, beef, minji, french beans. Generally, it's the same, it's familiar but not quite like home." Abdi went on.
Abdi is happy for the level of excitement the team members in Brazil have shown on the days they plan to eat Ugali.
"Everyone was anticipating all day for dinner time and the players felt even more confident after a good meal of Ugali and stew, we all felt re-energized."
"And to be honest Ugali is much sweeter on foreign soil than you would expect in Kenya."
Abdi also reveals the fun and enjoyable experience of cooking for his compatriots on foreign soil.
"It was also my way to extend care and gratitude of the team. We wanted to make our Ugali just the same way it is prepared at home. Everyone was counting on us to deliver a homemade meal and we did."
Meanwhile, Abdi is grateful for the Brazilian hospitality and cuisine.
"When the weather allows, we've trained in a nearby football pitch and those living within the neighborhood have been very friendly and welcoming."
"We feel at home here. We're also fortunate to be hosted by a very warm and welcoming hotel service, the hotel manager really takes care of us and has made sure we are comfortable.
We sometimes take a walk and enjoy the many oranges from the trees in the neighborhood."
The remote nature of Caxius Do Sul has handed the team a unique and enabling environment to concentrate with training.
Abdi reckons that it's been a great exposure.
"The flights were long but they were all anticipating and looking forward to seeing a new country and to participate in the Deaflympics.
Everyone was hyped especially the first timers who boarded the flight for the first time. It was amazing how excited we all were to come to Brazil."