U.S-Rapper and basketball player Jermain Cole, popularly known as J. Cole has spoken out on his experience in Rwanda, after featuring for the local side Patriots Basketball Club in the ongoing Basketball Africa League (BAL).
The rapper signed up for the BAL semi-finalists and played in all group games, attracting huge attention for the tournament which is in its inaugural edition. Prior to heading back to the U.S, J. Cole paid a courtesy call on President Paul Kagame before saying farewell to his teammates.
“So many thank you’s are due. Thank you to @thebal and to @patriotsbbc for the opportunity,”
“Thank you to my teammates, the coaches and staff for treating me like family. I learned so much in the few weeks we were together. Congrats on that win tonight and good luck next game,” posted Cole.
For the first time he revealed how he ended up in the country, signing for the Rwandan side ahead of the BAL. Cole revealed that it was a partnership with sports equipment and apparel manufacturer who actually chattered a plane to get him to Rwanda.
“Thank you to @puma for supporting a dream from day 1, and getting me to Rwanda and back safely via Puma jet,” he revealed. Details of his contract or how it came about have not been revealed in the past.
In the same post, Cole wrote about his experience in Rwanda, a country he recommended as a destination for many who wish to come to Africa.
“Thank you to the entire country of Rwanda and to the city of Kigali for hosting us. BEAUTIFUL land with BEAUTIFUL people. To anyone considering visiting or moving to the continent, from everything I saw and heard, I would recommend you consider Kigali and Rwanda in general,”
“Thank you to everybody that had kind words for me despite my inexperience. I plan to get better,” the ‘Off Season’ rapper wrote.
His participation in The BAL drew mixed reactions, with the AS Sale guard, Terrell Stoglin, stating that J. Cole’s participation in the tournament was ‘disrespectful’, claiming that he took a place for a professional basketball player somewhere who worked hard to play at this level.
However, some high-profile individuals like rapper Rick Ross and Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri came to J. Cole’s defence, pointing out that he deserved a place to play because of his love of the game and effort.
Ujiri said that Cole’s presence brought the much-needed attention to the first edition of the continental league, something he said was really important and outweighed whatever critics had to say.