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Posted at 8:41 PM ET, 06/23/2010

Manute Bol's other legacy

By editors

By Robert McFarlane,

Thanks for your generous tribute to Manute Bol, who died on Saturday in Charlottesville at 47 [“Former Washington Bullet was a singular force in the NBA,” Metro, June 20]. Although I followed Mr. Bol’s career as a Bullets fan, I met him only last year at a conference here in Washington focused on reconciliation among disparate tribes, sects and nations. Even then, it might not have happened if both of us had not stood up to challenge the speaker, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, concerning his reticence in the face of Russian transfers of MiG-29s to the Khartoum government. Afterward Mr. Gorbachev met with us but made no commitment to any follow-up. This was the first of several sometimes funny, sometimes sad travels with Manute.

He lived in fairly severe pain for his last five years; still, he was driven to leave a meaningful legacy for the next generation of young Sudanese in the South. As one who knew the blessing of education only late in life, he committed himself to raising money to build schools in southern Sudan. We went to his home village, Turalei, together late last year to encourage work on the first one. Understanding what they had missed in having no access to school during 20-plus years of civil war, the people of Turalei almost worshiped Mr. Bol for his commitment to making schools available for their children.

His passing leaves a corresponding void for all who knew him — especially the children of Turalei.

The writer was national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan from 1983 to 1985.

By editors  | June 23, 2010; 8:41 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, education, sports  
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