That our politicians are the most polarizing and sports the single most unifying factor in the country is never in doubt. We can also agree, to a greater extent, that compared to politicians, who most, if not all, are shameless opportunists, sportsmen and women are hard-working and honest.
You see, in sports, you can seldom fake it, you are either talented and hard-working enough to be at the top or not, but in politics, especially in the Kenyan set up, you can cheat your way to the highest office without blinking an eye and once you are up there, successfully cheat some more to maintain your status.
Conscious of this strength they possess, our politicians are sparing nothing, including sports, to perpetuate themselves by hogging the headlines. Politicians love the limelight and nothing gives it to them so cheaply than sports.
So you will find them tweeting, gracing major events, some trips funded by the taxpayers, and trying just anything and everything to be part of every conquest of our gallant sportsmen and women.
Granted, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying a word or two to appreciate success, but for a country whose leadership has totally abandoned sports, I not only find this behaviour shameful but also immoral.
How do you bite the biggest chunk of a cake you did absolutely nothing to bake? Where’s conscience?
In hand to receive and congratulate Eliud Kipchonge, the greatest marathon runner of all times, at the tape, as he did the unthinkable by running a marathon in under two hours in Vienna, Austria, on Saturday morning, was his wife and kids, technical staff, sponsors, friends and well-wishers. There were also politicians. The opportunistic guests.
The Deputy President William Ruto, Governors Stephen Sang (Nandi) and Jackson Mandagor (Uasin Gishu), led the political wing in the celebrations and their lieutenants did everything within their call and beyond to ensure they milked the great occasion, watched by millions across the globe, dry for their own selfish interests. You could see them jostle for photo moments more than even the cool Sir James Arthur Ratcliffe, the British billionaire, who sponsored the race through his company, INEOS.
Whatever Eliud achieved on Saturday, it must be understood, was out of sheer talent and hard work. The great levels our sportsmen and women have scaled in different sporting codes right from athletics to rugby, cricket, to women’s volleyball and football has been due to the same, talent, hard work and dedication, with very little or no input from our political leadership, who only joins the table to eat when the food is ready.
Athletes in this country go through a lot to bag those accolades, they lack proper training facilities compared to those in first world countries, but they still beat the world. You will be wowed to know that our track and field athletes only have Moi University Chepkoilel and Annex grounds to train. It is never enough.
Meanwhile, Ruto, who, while campaigning for the Jubilee government in 2013, promised to build five stadiums if they get elected, but have so far delivered none, was right there enjoying the limelight he never worked for or helped make.
We did not see them visit him over the four months he fine-tuned his craft in the Great Rift Valley.
Back at home, President Uhuru Kenyatta and many other politicians and government bureaucrats in influential positions were quick to tweet their congratulatory messages. None of them has made any effort, away from the usual rhetoric, in terms of policy or otherwise, to support sports.
They kept mum as money from sports fund was diverted to other sectors considered important at a time sportsmen and women, who fly the Kenyan flag so high in major continental and world events, are crying over unpaid salaries and allowances.
This is the kind of moral decadence, oozing from the political class, that gets most of us in sports irked, and it must stop. Stop rubbing salt to injury.