Open letter to Athletics Kenya’s bosses: Let these braids go; they are too heavy
Posted Sunday, July 1 2012 at 18:59
A few days after President Kibaki handed over the national flag to the Kenyan contingent to the London Olympic Games that kick off on July 27, you are no doubt up to your eyeballs in strategy meetings, doping tests, and travel logistics.
As you prepare our girls for this all-important meeting, please pay attention to their hair.
Every time I watch one cross the finish line at a track or marathon meet, I am convinced she could have reduced her winning time by at least two minutes, if she did not have to carry two kilos of braided hair extensions over so many kilometres.
I am not too sure, but I think this simple argument falls within the laws of aerodynamics.
True, braided hair saves our running girls from spending precious minutes vainly staring at the mirror every morning when they should be out mastering speed, stamina and strategy.
These braids might give our girls time for more training and preparation, but the drag they create on the track surely costs the runners much more in personal best.
Some might say that on account of these braids, our female athletes sometimes look unkempt. I am not concerned with that now. Beauty is, after all, in the eyes of the beholder.
So no, the issue is not who will be the most glamorous athlete at the Olympics. It is: how do we enhance the winning chances of the Kenyan team? And so these long and tedious hair extensions must go.
How I wish there was a civil society organisation concerned with why Kenya is not bagging as many sports medals (with gender and ethnic balance) as the world’s superpowers do! I would be the first to craft their slogan: “Braids must go, 47 golds must come”.
It was the great Roman philosopher, Cicero, who once said: “It is foolish to tear one’s hair in grief, as though sorrow would be made less by baldness”.
True. But in the career of an athlete, surely baldness can add to speed and bring on the coveted gold medals.
“You can buy you hair, if it won’t grow” is the advice given by the US pop group, TLC, in their 1999 hit single Unpretty, which urges women to actively go out and do something to overcome their feelings of inadequacy.
But back in Kenya, hair extensions have been the cause of much male grief. Not just grief, but decidedly violent thoughts.
A young friend, who will be voting for the first time next year, has been wanting to register a party called “Mawe: Men Against Weaves”.
His studies in the UK detained him from executing this plan. No doubt the sight of our heavily-laden female athletes criss-crossing the streets in the marathon on the opening morning of the London Games will give him new reason to rue his failure to register that party.
So before we lose a gold medal to the aerodynamic hairstyles of the Ethiopians, who among our gifted local hairdressers wants to volunteer sterling service to the nation by grooming our athletes for the London Olympics?
There must be tons of low maintenance, air-resistant hairstyles to grace the heads of our runners, ease the flow of their race and knock the minutes off the final race time.
Surely there is some hairdressing salon out there, clad in patriotic colours and ready to do some free service for Kenya.