SOMAY KU: A Uganda Tennis Story

Patrick Olobo, Uganda’s top-ranked tennis player, struggles to leave behind a devastating civil war, finding a new set of obstacles after emigrating to the US.

Uganda is in the midst of the world’s longest-running civil war, a 22-year conflict that has displaced over 2 million people from their homes, resulting in the abductions of over 30,000 children to the forces of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Currently, 1500 people per week are dying from the conditions in squalid camps for Internally Displaced Persons in Northern Uganda.

Patrick was four when LRA Rebels decimated his family’s farm and murdered his brother and four other family members, forcing them to abandon their ancestral land. A harrowing childhood, a stint in a miserable camp for the Internally Displaced, and a stubborn desire to help his dispossessed family regain their land have driven Patrick throughout his subsequent, improbable rise to Davis Cup competition.

The film is presented with a strong visual mix of Cinema Verite, interviews, and action footage, and features original music performed by Ugandan musicians. The camera accompanies Patrick during his last weeks in Uganda and first 2 years in the US, as his new life unfolds in unforeseen ways. The adjustment is not easy, and his tennis dream is threatened by the pressures of his new life. While seeming to have hit pay-dirt with a well-to-do American sponsor, Patrick must learn to deal with the pressure of “expectations” and “measuring up.” Obstacles arise that put his status in the U.S. at risk, adding to the pressures of financial responsibility to his family in Uganda and a growing cultural divide with his Ugandan girlfriend.

A young man straddling two disparate worlds, Patrick is haunted by past atrocities, the stubborn memories of which punctuate the film, recalled during quiet moments, or with sudden pain at a New York City rally for the children of Northern Uganda.

“SOMAY KU,” translated, means “bounce…hit” in Kumam, which is Patrick Olobo’s native dialect, from the TESO Region of Northeastern Uganda.

Sports & Recreation


Rex Miller