Athlete of the Week Archive

Nov. 30, 2007

LARAMIE, Wyo. -



Bienvenu Songondo


Tell us about your home country, the Central African Republic.
"My country is about the size of Texas and I think that it looks similar to West Virginia. When I was in West Virginia I was reminded by a lot of things of my country. It is a little bit warmer than W.V. though. It does get cold there but not like here."

How long did you live in Africa and when did you come to the United States?
"I was born in Africa, grew up there and then moved to France for three years before coming to the U.S. for high school. First I was in Baltimore, Md., and then when I was 19 I transferred to the Laurinburg Institute in N.C."

When you are done with school do you want to return to the Central African Republic?
"Actually I would like to stay in the U.S. Maybe after I am done at UW with school I can go to Europe and play ball, but I want to live in the States."

Tell us about your trip home this past summer.
"There is a civil war going on right now. There are many people who want to be president right now and those groups are fighting. When I went home this summer, two days before I was to come back my passport expired. Because of the civil war there was no one working in my country and I could not get my new passport. The U.S. Embassy in my country is closed because of the war, so I had to go to Cameroon to get my visa and that is why it was hard for me to get back."

How has this civil war affected you and your family?
"Not too much. This is the second civil war in my country. I was in the States during the first war. The first one was worse than the current one. For safety now not many people go to work and everyone just stays at home."

What other sports did you play while growing up?
"Actually I played soccer and my dad, he is a big tennis player. I played tennis a little bit just for fun."

When did you start playing basketball?
"I started when I was 14. I was kind of tall and one of my brothers who played basketball said that I was too tall for soccer and that I should stop playing soccer and start playing basketball."

Is there one thing that you miss most about home?
"First of all, I miss my family. Second of all, I miss the food and especially my mom's food."

What is your favorite homemade food?
"The recipe is called coco-mellamo (sp?). It is basically beef with lots of stuff on it like leaves, which are called coco, and the llamo is the meat."

What do you like the most about Wyoming?
"I like Wyoming because there isn't too much to do so I can focus on school and basketball. Also, there are so many nice people in Laramie and the state."

What do you like to do in your free time away from basketball and school?
"I like to go and hang out with friends and sometimes just stay home and watch TV or movies. I also like to go bowling."

What shoe size do you wear?
"Now it is a 15."

Is it hard to find shoes in your size?
"Actually my dad wears size 15 and it was hard for us back home. Now anywhere I go I can find a size 15."

What is your favorite kind of music?
"I like a variety and pretty much everything. The type I like the most is hip-hop."

Have you had a chance to go to any of the mountains around Laramie?
"Actually I haven't. I would love to but I don't have much free time. Maybe sometime this summer I will have time. That is one thing I have to do before I leave Wyoming is see all the different cities and the mountains and even Yellowstone. I have never been there and I want to go."

Since you are 6'10", have you ever hit your head on a door frame or a car door?
"A lot! The last time I hit my head really bad was about a month ago. I went to the high school to visit one of my friends and it really hurt. Ohhhhhh!"