One of the milestones this year in Kenya’s history was the (peaceful) change of constitutional order which is still sinking in to one and all in the Kenyan scene. Among the changes the new order recommended was the reduction and renaming of the public holidays - 20th October previously known as Kenyatta Day became Heroes (Swahili Mashujaa) Day.
The first of these days’ was marked on Wednesday with the usual (rather unexciting) march past and parades and one of the ‘highlights’ was the Kenyan sporting heroes. A quick glance of the day’s heroes showed a mix of both young and old sports people widely represented in athletics, football, boxing and latter day ones in swimming.
Good thing so far. The tragedy is as one of the heroes held, “…get me a medal, parade me before Kenyans and national TV, invite me for lunch with the powers-that-be load me with a 500-note and get me on my way...”
What happens to our past sporting heroes that we can’t honour them in a better way? Develop a transitional system to cushion the sporting personalities against the snares of life; use some of these as role models to the youth who are seriously missing local heroes ( remember make-believe Makmende?); and name major sporting venues, roads, streets after some of these sterling performers.
We can do a better job too if we develop a National Sports Archives or Hall of Fame for different sporting heroes. This has been sampled by the Athletics Kenya though not with much success as regards public awareness and information-sharing bit. A National Sports Trust (here's South Africa's example) of the kind that will pool together winnings and tax bonuses of the sportsmen for future drawings can be developed. The Trust can engage in long-term investments or be part of the capital investments that Governments engage in.
The Trust can also be enjoined to such community services such as the Kenya Charity Sweepstakes and other lottery games which are seen as potent fund-raisers. Surely there is a better way to honour our best than what we are already doing...