Thursday’s was another low key start of the hitherto famous Safari Rally. The perfunctory attendance by the ever decreasing number of motorsports die-hards briefly lightened up what would otherwise have been another drab event at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre. As the powerful cars motor through the countryside, the local motorsports governing body, Kenya Motor Sports Federation (KMSF), will possibly be puzzling over how to rev up declining interest in the rally that once captured the imagination of Kenyans owing to its sense of adventure and competitiveness.
Driving up spectator interest will be key if the Safari Rally is to win over more sponsors and convince road users that the nuisance of having to put up with closed highways during the duration of the race is worth the trouble.
One of the reasons interest in the Safari Rally has declined is that it is viewed as an elitist sport dominated by foreigners and drivers who members of the public have little connection with. However, this feeling of exclusion and irrelevance can be overcome. Motorsports has a legion of fans going by the multitudes who stay up all night to watch Formula One drivers race around circuits on distant foreign capitals.
KMSF must find a way of creating a connection between the Safari Rally and ordinary Kenyans the way other sports associations have done. For instance, there are more people watching and playing rugby than ever before, even us more regular folk take up golf.
Interest in the Safari Rally can be revived. Let’s find more creative ways of bringing back this excitement.