Last Saturday, flying at 40,000 feet in the sky aboard a Kenya Airways flight when the captain interrupted the flight entertainment to announce the victory of Eliud Kipchoge who had just conquered the world record he had set a few years back to finish the 42km marathon under the 2-hour mark. No one thought that was possible. This earned Kipchoge a new title I have never heard before, GOAT (greatest of all times). Recently I met a Maasai friend and he enriched my knowledge by telling me calling someone ‘ngombe’ (cow) among the Maasai is an honour.
I have never imagined referring to people as GOAT or Ng'ombe is going to make someone happy. Anyways, Kipchoge is now a GOAT, the greatest man to walk on earth as far as athletics is concerned. Back to the KQ flight, the announcement by the captain received thunderous applause. All the white people on the flight seemed very happy to know some Kenyan who they had never seen before had become the most recognised athlete on earth. I developed a very strong sense of patriotism and love for my country.
In a few days, we shall celebrate heroes day, a day previously referred to as Kenyatta day, but since the promulgation of the new constitution, the 20th of October has been earmarked as an annual fete to remember and recognize all our heroes both those who have died and those still alive. The recognition of these great athletes is very necessary. As if Eliuds victory was not enough Brigid Kosgei broke another marathon record this time in Chicago.
This was a double victory in a spate of two days. Kenya's flag was running high everywhere and the headlines around the world were just about Kenya. We have never received so much brand marketing as Kenya. I had hoped the Kenya Tourism Board would have pitched a tent in all these locations where we are making history, but this might never happen I guess.
Kenyans should be thankful to God that he assisted to Nilo-Hamitic community called Kalenjins to migrate along the Nile from Egypt to settle in this great country. Maybe the biblical story of the pharaohs in Egypt and the power of black people of Egypt who had constructed the pyramid was referring to the Kalenjin, who knows. Every time the world wants to forget Kenya, the sprinting boys and girls from the rift valley somehow appear and fly the Kenyan flag high.
I remember some years back in a European athletic grand Prix Kenyan athletes were refused to participate because the organizers thought these East Africans are going to dominate anyway and take away all the prize money and were, therefore, denied the chance to participate. That is my view is taking Kenya to a greater height and being held in awe.
But unfortunately, recognizing heroes is mostly synonymous with feting politicians. Every time we see people in politics being awarded medals of honor even when we know that they are the most corrupt people ever. We never see these athletes take the center stage. If I am given the opportunity to decide how we should celebrate this year Kenyatta day, oops! Heroes day, I would have organized it differently. At the moment the historic victory of Eliud Kipchoge has captured the imaginations of most Kenyans and a sense of unity has been felt.
This was even more powerful than the handshake that for now seems shaky. The Heroes day celebration should be dedicated to all the athletes and all the country at the county and sub-county headquarters the government should parade the young men and women of our country and allow them to hold a marathon and give prizes to the winners. We shall have inculcated the values of being the running nation.
Eliud said that is his dream. I believe it is time to take a departure from holding nationals holiday fetes in stadiums to read political speeches. I guess we have the capacity to be a little bit more creative and bring some new forms of celebration and have fun. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening for now. I am looking forwarding to listening to the boring Tangatanga, kieleweke and other useless talks from overfed politicians who do more damage to our country!
Mr Guleid is the CEO of Frontier Counties Development Council. [email protected]
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