Saturday, August 11, 2012
The last few weeks have been crucial for Kenya and for the whole world, attention has been directed in one place where ‘all action is’- The London Olympics. This is one event that Kenya looks forward to since we have made a name through talented youth athletes who have over time continued making Kenya proud. This year’s Olympic games have been a bit of a disappointment for Kenyans since our athletes do not seem to be getting as many medals as anticipated. However we (Kenyans) managed to get several medals and recognising some individuals and the team work with ‘TeamKenya’ becoming a common phrase in the social media. While many were not able to physically join the Kenya House in London joined it though social media. The talk in the social places, work places was Olympics! The gold medals seemed elusive and Kenyans were yearning for them. Ezekiel Kemboi won Kenya's first gold medal in 3,000-meter steeplechase much to the rejoicing of Kenyans. However spirits were low as the runners kept missing anticipated medals in women and men’s races. I heard some Kenyans declaring they are giving up watching Olympics, disappointed by performance of Kenyans and watching the social media space the same information was echoed. Kenyans anticipated at least one more gold medal, almost certain that this had to be! It was therefore with bated breath that Kenya sat to watch the Captain of the Olympics team, David Rudisha on 9th August in the 800m race. The spoken and unspoken word on everyone’s mouth is that this was the next gold and nothing less was expected of him! Rudisha was not disappointed and earned Kenya the second gold in Olympics 2012. There was so much jubilation, capturing the moment and within seconds his photos were splashed all over the social media and made headlines in the newspapers the following day. It was really a moment when Kenyans felt KENYANS. I was reflecting on three main issues that struck me as I watched the events. The first one was on the team work of Kenyans and other participating teams. From the results it was obvious that team work played a major role and in fact the failure and success could to a large extent be attributed to team work. Running is done at individual level, everyone proves her/himself in the tracks. However, several times I observed the Kenyans helping each other; passing on water on long races, nudging each other to run faster etc, this was impressive. Some team members reported how they had strategised, helped each other keep pace etc. I wondered how much better we would perform in many areas of life if we are to be supportive team members. One may achieve quite something on their own, but with team we go further and it is lonely alone at the top. This is expressed in the poem by Edga A. Guest (1881-1959) It is all very well to have courage and skill, And it is fine to be counted a star, But the single deed with its touch of thrill, Doest tell the (wo)man you are; For there is no lone hand in the game we play, We must work to a bigger scheme, And the thing that counts in the world today, Is, How do you pull with the team? The may sound praise and call you great, They may single you out for fame, But you must work with your running mate, Or you will never win the game, Oh, never the work of life is done, By the (wo)man with selfish dream, For the battle is lost of the battle is won, By the spirit of the team. You may think it fine to be praised for skill, But a greater thing to do, Is to set your mind and set your will, On the goal that’s just in view, Its helping your fellowman/(woman) to score, It is forgetting self till the game is over, And fighting for the team. The second issue that struck me is the age of the Kenya team members, YOUTH. In Kenya, mention the word you and what comes to mind is arrogant, uninformed, violent demonstrations, illegal sects etc. I agree some of these groups carry quite a ‘youth face’. This easily escapes lips of many as they justify why youth are not quite ready for some responsibilities. A bad action or performance by an individual youth or a group of youth easily leads to condemnation of all youth, how youth can not be trusted with responsibilities. However during the sports like Olympics where Kenya rejoice in the good performance, rarely do we find the term youth used to describe them. The young people should be given a fair deal, praises and rebuke. The youth have made major contributions to the country and this is often not attributed to ‘the young people’. The final and most critical issue is the aspect of negative ethnicity. One of major hindering factors to peaceful coexistence is the negative ethnicity. Kenya is rich with diverse ethnic groups, cultural practices, natural environment, faura and fauna that makes us a rich nation indeed. However, many a times our diversity has been the point of divergence. Violent attacks on members of certain ethnic communities have been experienced with the victims getting blame for actions that a few individual members who happen to belong to the same ethnic group did or were perceived to have done. Negative stereotypical comments are not rare with some people not willing to share platform with others of a different community. Some times one is tempted to think we can not, or are not yet ready to unite under one nation but as different ethnic groups. However, during Olympics I observed Kenyans cheering and rejoicing about Kenyans, getting disappointed by performance of Kenyans and owning it. I did not hear the tribes of the winners or losers coming into play, we are Kenyans. This has left me wondering, what happens when it comes to the politics? We are already starting the electioneering hype, and usually this is the time we remember our ethnic cocoons! How I wish the spirit of the Olympics can be carried to the political sphere, as we ask God of all Creation to bless us and our land. How I wish we can live in unity, peace and liberty as our national anthem calls for. I wish, I pray.