Preserving Kenya’s cultural heritage in times of crisis

Athletics legend Ben Jipcho. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The government has recognised the important role that athletics plays in the development of our youth. 

 The death of legendary Olympic athlete, Ben Jipcho, took many of us by surprise. The athlete is best remembered for the silver medal he won at the 1972 Munich Olympics as well as gold, silver and bronze medals he won at the All Africa Games and at the Commonwealth Games.

Aside for these prestigious sporting awards, Jipcho’s legacy is preserved in the way he inspired a generation of Kenyan youth to follow their dreams and pursue excellence in sports. Such positive role models for our youth are few. 

 President Uhuru Kenyatta has recognised the important role that athletics plays in the development of our youth, and the future of our country.  Indeed, sports have been lauded by many as playing a key role in nation building. Other than entertain us, sports unite. 

 Athletics similarly increases the value attributed to important virtues such as discipline, determination and teamwork at a national level. The emphasis placed on these helps guide the focus of future generations, who strive to be like their favourite athletes, increasing positivity and encouraging them to not develop negative habits, such as drug or alcohol abuse. 

 This understanding regarding the value and importance of athletes to our nation, has led our president to consider how the government can support the athletes during the coronavirus pandemic. While we all miss live sports, athletes are feeling the effects of the pandemic.

In order to help improve their plight, Uhuru has instituted a number of measures, with much more to come. In a recent address, the president stated, “We have not forgotten our sportsmen and women. We are looking at the best possible ways of assisting them”.

So far, this has included the allocations of Sh100 million through the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage to help cushion the athletes from the effects of the pandemic. 

 The effects of the pandemic have also been felt by sports related businesses and sports federations. These employ hundreds of people in addition to the players, and naturally have running expenses which they cannot currently meet. Owners of stadiums have also lost tremendous amounts of revenue streams which will not return for the foreseeable future.

This includes rental income from owners of concession stands, advertising as well as of course ticket sales. 

Harvesting the power of the private sector, our president along with CS Sports, Culture and Heritage Amina Mohamed have been working to raise up to Sh200 million. This will come from private investors willing to offer much needed funds to clubs.

This will be provided in exchange for a stake in the clubs and a return on their investment at a later date. Raising the sums needed to tide these teams during times of economic uncertainty would have been unfeasible without government assurances and incentives given to investors.

 Although times are challenging, a nation that does not ensure the preservation of its cultural heritage in times of crisis will not be able to thrive culturally in the long term either. Sport in our country has created unforgettable memories among families, provided each of us with moments of tremendous national pride and helped unite as a nation.

No pandemic should be allowed to take that heritage away from us.

Mr Mugolla is a public policy analyst. [email protected]