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African Olympians proof that ‘Black Lives Matter’

By , People Daily Digital
Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021 00:00 | 2 mins read
US President Joe Biden. Photo/AFP

In a world traumatised by the ‘pandemic and climate grief’, the ongoing Olympic Games have illuminated the power of the African continent’s triumph over racism and adversity.

Coronavirus and climate change have defied geographical, racial, social, economic and political borders, to inflict the most severe psychological trauma on humanity this century. 

In a world with information at our fingertips, we constantly read, know, think about and suffer through the impending death of the planet, democracy and society. 

True, the world is in a mess and the Olympics can only offer a temporary respite from the looming tragedy wrought by these calamities.

Without racial prejudice, the games have proved to be the perfect stage for Africa to remind the world why “Black Lives Matter”.

From individual to team events, African Olympians have turned on powerful displays of raw talent, skill and discipline.

In the opening athletics event 10,000 metres race, Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega outsmarted Uganda’s world record holder Joshua Cheptegei and compatriot Jacob Kiplimo to a podium sweep. 

The Olympics have rekindled the flame lit by the protests in the US last year demanding justice for George Floyd and countless individuals within the black community, standing up against police brutality and systemic racism dating back to slavery.

The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris over Donald Trump, mirrors this critical racial factor in American and indeed global politics, reminiscent of Barack Obama’s historic presidency.

Racism in sports continues globally as witnessed during the recent European football championship, when black England players were subjected to racial abuse. People worldwide have expressed solidarity with victims of racial slurs.

That black people in all nations across the globe, have emerged from racial trauma and terror to symbolise the power of their African roots is an incredible feat of resilience and sheer brilliance;now resonating at the Olympics.

Racial innuendos, perpetuated by ultra-right-wing extremists dog humanity, only tampered by global sporting events such as the Olympics and its creed of not to win, but to take part in peace, solidarity and fair competition.

  Black people of African origin are citizens and comprises a large part of the contingents of many of the more than 200 nations taking part in the games. 

The Jamaican trio of Elaine-Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Johnson underlined the universal power of black men and women in sports, when they dazzled with a 1-2-3 finish in the marquee women’s 100m race. 

While Kenya will this time not be able to replicate this form in their traditional 3,000m steeplechase forte, there is optimism medals will come from our world-famous athletes.

Congratulations are in order for Ferdinand Omanyala for his sterling performance in the men’s 100m.

Kenyans participating in various sports disciplines at the Games have upheld the Olympics ideals, underlining that the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, and that the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well. 

At the Olympics, the offspring of what was once called the “Dark Continent” have illuminated the world with amazing performances making Africa a shining light on the global map. 

That is why ‘Black Lives Matter”. Black men and women have anchored their permanent status in the community of humanity in many professions, particularly in sports and the performing arts. African leaders should learn from and invest in our awesome young people. [email protected]

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