I was recently among the thousands of Eldoret residents who kept vigil in the town centre to witness history being made by one of our own, Eliud Kipchoge.
As we stared at the big screen strategically mounted next to the Kenya National Library’s local branch, I could not stop imagining how a single individual could unite a whole nation.
The mood could only be reminiscent of that created in United States by the trio of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins as they landed on the moon.
Those ecstatic moments made me understand the construction of the national pride of the US. The declaration that “no human is limited” by Kipchoge as he pulled off his sub-two-hour marathon and Neil Armstrong’s epic statement in 1969 that his was “one small step for man, and giant leap for mankind” both point at the infinite power that lies undiscovered in all of us.
In a telephone conversation, President Uhuru Kenyatta reminded Kipchoge that he was carrying the hopes and dreams of about 56 million Kenyans.
And for sure he didn’t disappoint. He fulfilled our dreams and hopes and once again made the whole world talk positively about Kenya.
Kenya remains an enigma to many outside and on the continent in athletics. I am always asked if I am also a runner when I introduce myself as a Kenyan when visiting Europe or America.
At the national level, Kipchoge affirms the potential in the geographical entity we call Kenya that is yet to be exploited for the good of all of us. We all have a collective responsibility to unlock the potential in us.
Indeed, science tells us that most human beings utilise only about 15 per cent of the inherent physical and mental potential until they die. Those who manage to unlock their potential up to 25 per cent are considered geniuses.
Athletics aside, we have many things to be proud of as Kenyans. In the area of innovation, it was Kenya that gave the world M-Pesa.
The innovation is not only driving our economy in the area of money transfer, but it has also been replicated throughout the continent and the world at large.
The conspiracy to situate the innovation out of Kenya is understandable within the context of neo-colonialism just like any other innovation from the developing world.
We are the descendants of great warriors who, despite having inferior weapons, forced a superpower to grant independence to Kenya.
It is that spirit of determination in heroes like Dedan Kimathi, Koitalel Samoei, Mekitilili wa Menza, the Kapenguria Six and many others that drives our nation. It is the spirit that Kipchoge was echoing in his statement.
The search for infinite possibilities inherent in us is even visible in our diaspora population who push themselves to their highest point of performance in whichever field they operate.
Going by recent reports, we have a population of Kenyans out there who are flying our flag and delivering accolades in business, academia, diplomacy and technology.
The same Kenyan spirit of determination and an almost never-say-die attitude is the one enabling young people to try many things in a shrinking economy.
We have also variedly been described as a land of contrasting beauty. From the beautiful beaches of Mombasa to the greenery of the central belt, the scenic hills and mountains of the Rift Valley, the interlocking escarpments and anthills of the savannah, the undulating thickets of the semi-arid lands all provide magical attraction.
More is found in the treasures hidden in our national parks and reserves and our colourful indigenous peoples. Indeed, plenty can be found within our borders.
Kabaji is a researcher and professor of literary communication at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology; [email protected]