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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

At Kili Marathon, Athletics

11th March 2012

Visitors and guests at the recently held Kilimanjaro Marathon were treated to a rather astonishing case of washing dirty linen in public when the sector minister, Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi decided to conduct a 'parrehsia' before the gathered enthusiasts.

The reference point was the state of athletics in the country and inability to win any substantive honours in an event being held right in our backyard, the Kilimanjaro Marathon.

It wasn't a surprise to many people that Kenyan runners won virtually all the top honours both in the women and men's events, which left the minister breathless and groping for any sort of explanation, which he doesn't seem to have found but for the usual 'lack of good leadership' dictum.

No one shall insist that there is no gap of good leaders in AT, anymore than say in TFF or such other places, including the government itself for that matter. The problem is whethet AT deserved special mention in that regard, on account of our failur to clinch honours in the Kili Marathon event, for the simple reason that it was being held on home soil.

Indeed when one comes to look at that aspect of reasoning, only narrow nationalism comes up on the part of the minister, not only because the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro largely extend to Kenya, but he is forgetting that we also share the Rift Valley, so there is plenty of room to nurture talent – with Kenya having far better facilities, and sport enthusiasm.

One simple question which could be posed in the direction of the minister is to demand who is more responsible for the dismal show that local athletics put up in Kilimanjaro Marathon and earlier in the All Africa Games in Maputo, and earlier in the Commonwealth Games – and all other major events.

Is it AT preparations that are wanting, or it is the ministry which has never been able to tell Y from X as to how to go about revamping athletics in the coutnry? Is it really AT that can put up programs and arrangements to take athletics forward, ot AT is nust an enviroment where sports lovers can choose leaders to manage the sport on their behalf, on the basis of regulations or policies laid by the ministry?

It is appropriate to affirm that in sending out a blast in the direction of AT, the minister demonstrated the singular fact that he is a bad loser, and thus is no sportsman since one must accept with a modicum of grace to be accepted as a sportsman or woman.

At the same time, there was dismal failure on his part not to realize that this wasn't the occasion not only to attack AT but also to show how intensely he was personally disturbed by the Kenyan rally of all top places in the twin marathon events. A well thought-out way of doing things would have enabled him to focus on the regional cooperation aspect for the Kili Marathon occasion, as well as the specific brand, where Kenyan athletes help to sell the brand abroad.

Those who covered that event for the media admit that it is a money spinner in more than one way, since the runners drawn from the four corners of the world not only make the marathon, half marathon and fun run (five kilometers) but also with cultural tourism.

They would visit the Serengeti, Manyara, Ngorongoro or Kilimanjaro national partks unavoidably, but also seek out to find how traditional ethnic groups lived in that area, some traversing westtwards to the first footsteps of mankind at Olduvai and Leoteli, or modern myth makters like Samunge one magic cup village.

There was plenty that Nchimbi could have picked upon to make the occasion happy for everyone, not to fume red envy on Kenyans....

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