For Kenya to change, we must stay at 1:59


Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after crossing the finish line at the end of his attempt to bust the two-hour barrier for the marathon on October 12, 2019 in Vienna. [AFP]

Eliud Kipchoge manufactured in 1 hour 59 minutes the mood that every developing country should have. Kenya is privileged to be the direct beneficiary of  Kipchoge’s work.

On his shoulders he carried a nation, its hopes and indeed its very character. 1:59 represented for me, and many other Kenyans, what was possible. It represented what goodwill, hard work and a big dream can accomplish.

In the weeks that led to the run, I watched as the nation came together behind one man and his dream. The nation knew that science had said he couldn't do it, but we are Kenyans—we beat the odds on a daily basis.

Slowly Kipchoge’s dream became our dream and each of us owned it. We all wished him well, prayed that he would run much faster, that if we all watched, every eyeball would make the wind less offensive; that every cheer would make his path smooth.

SEE ALSO :Kipchoge says he's getting stronger each day

Oh, how we all dreamt that our wishes would carry him on angels wings.

The entire nation was captivated by the race. As a result, tribalism took flight. For once, Kipchoge was not a tribal name. It was our name; we were all Kipchoge. We did not care where he came from. All that mattered was where he was going—where he was taking us.

Suddenly, what science and history had decreed impossible looked possible. We did not care what science said; we were going to beat it to a pulp and with a smile on our faces.

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Impossible was nothing, we were unlimited. Sure enough, we did it. Our hopes were proven true and just as we celebrated Kipchoge our sister Brigid dealt our former colonialists a blow and destroyed a world record by over a minute. Kenya is indeed great!

But I fear that this feeling of greatness injected in us by the athletes will soon begin to fade. Our hearts might soon be overwhelmed by torrents of bad news that our media often doles out.

SEE ALSO :INEOS: Kipchoge leaves for Austria tonight

We will slowly, like confused lions, take back the stature of our limited selves and view ourselves not as lions but as kittens of the world.

Some might soon go back to their tribal cocoons. Corruption and selfishness will reclaim their place and stop our collective dream.

The reason why Kenya’s mood is not forever at 1:59 is because we don't learn. We are negative, selfish, tribal and corrupt. All the things 1:59, we are not. If we included any of our negative tendencies in Kipchoge’s run, it would not have happened.

But all said and done, there is nothing impossible for us; the Big Four and Vision 2030, among others, are achievable. Last week the State Department of Housing updated the nation on the progress of the construction on Park Road, Nairobi.

The flats look fantastic. The finishing of both the buildings and their interior is  beautiful. Yet, I remember how much time we wasted arguing whether the construction would ever happen.

SEE ALSO :Living legend Kipchoge in Vienna, waiting for weatherman’s signal

We doubted whether the contractors would ever show up. We ever wondered whether people would ever be allocated the houses.

If the PS and his team listened to our Kenyanese, there would be nothing on Park Road.

Kenyans need to get over themselves. We shouldn't be the reason why our country is not moving forward. Our tribalism shouldn't impede the fight against corruption.

Our tribalism should no longer be the reason why competent people can not be given jobs. It shouldn't make us stuff our institutions with incompetent people simply because they come from the right tribe.

How many times, dear Kenya, will universities protest when they get a vice chancellor who is not from their region? How long shall we be so Kikuyu that we can't be led by a Luhya no matter how competent the Luhya is?

SEE ALSO :Ineos1:59: Fans around the world rally behind Eliud Kipchoge

Imagine if Kipchoge had to run with Luhyas for the sake of regional balance. We should trade our tribalism for competence.

At the same time, we must begin to shun the corrupt. Our heroes have to be pure. We must have a system by which we recognise our heroes and punish the villains.

We should cheer and celebrate those who dare to change our country. We must become a nation that celebrates more than it cries.

All it would take for Kenya to change is for us to stay at 1:59; stay unlimited. We should remain united as we were when Kipchoge ran his race. We must be Kenya's biggest fan.

We must be the biggest believers of Kenya. If we do this, the lion in us will roar and our dreams will become a reality.

Mr Bichachi is a communication consultant. [email protected]

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