I met Nigeria’s most successful professional female golfer, Uloma Mbuko. She’s even been hailed as Africa’s Queen of Gold. Girlfriend has won more than 200 trophies in her class A career. She’s an inspiration. Her work ethic is mind-blowing. I got a chance to hang out with her and film her in Abuja, Nigeria and what I noticed was her disposition: gentle, kind, approachable and passionate.
I appreciated her being born and raised in Nigeria. Oftentimes, it’s Africans who were raised in the West (like me!) and come back to Africa (like I did) who grab all the attention. We see this in literature, business, etc.
I wrote a piece for Voice of America and produced a TV story about Uloma and how she’s raising the next generation of female golfers in Nigeria.
Here’s the story:
Nigeria’s ‘Queen of Golf’ Mentors Next Generation of Potential Pros
ABUJA, NIGERIA — About 30 youngsters were on a golf course, practicing their swing on a hot Saturday morning in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
The students were as young as 3 and as old as 16. For nearly a year, they’ve come out every Saturday to Abuja’s IBB International Golf and Country Club to learn the rules of the game.
Uloma Mbuko guided them with a watchful eye.
“Princess, I want to see you hold your swing,” she said to one of them.
Mbuko walked up and down the line of students.
She is the lead instructor at this beginners’ golf training program for boys and girls. Nigeria’s premier female golfer, Mbuko has played in tournaments across Africa, winning a place in nearly all of them and garnering about 200 awards. She has been called the Queen of Golf in Africa. After 17 years as a Class A professional, she has risen to a level in sports that few women in Nigeria ever reach.
WATCH: Nigeria’s ‘Queen of Golf’ Trains Her Potential Successors
Even from a young age, Mbuko showed ambition, said her sister, Chinyere Mbuko.
“She’s always been a sports lady. She started with football, then handball. So when she was starting, you know, playing golf, I was like, ‘Ah! Serious?’ ” Chinyere Mbuko said with a laugh. “But I knew she could do it.”
The golfer comes from a working-class family, so getting into the sport was not easy.
“We all know that golf is expensive, even though we try to shy away from it. But it is expensive,” Uloma Mbuko said. “Now, to be a member of a golf club in Nigeria, definitely you’re talking about nothing less than 500,000.”
The 500,000 naira ($1,640) covers only the membership. At the IBB club where Mbuko spends most of her time, the fee is upward of 800,000 naira ($2,622). A golfer has to pay for access to practice facilities, training, a caddy, proper clothing and equipment.