Anthropologists will authoritatively tell us that rituals are important in binding communities and enhancing community productivity. That is why national groups, regional groups and even international categories have events that help them to keep together. While a lot of people may not see it that way, sports events – if organised properly – are a major ritual that binds communities, national, regional or even international groups together.
Look at the countries – including ourselves – that were part of the British Empire. They have the Commonwealth Games every so often.
The global community has the Olympic Games which are a major ritual aimed at uniting the world we live in. The same global society has other events – rituals – that focus on individual sports events. Right now, there is the French Open Tennis competition that brings all competent tennis players from every part of the world together. These rituals are important for keeping communities and people together and united.
The biggest ritual in the world of football is now here with us. The World Cup begins in less than a week. I am not a very big football fan – even though I love watching a good game – so when this World Cup ritual comes along every four years, I somehow keep my eyes open and generally get excited and watch whichever game I can.
My big question has been: Where are we Kenyans? Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and other African countries have over time demonstrated that indeed Africans can do it. Where have we Kenyans been in this matter?
With regard to international football there is no doubt that if enough energy and effort are applied by all concerned, we do have the requisite ability to be part of the world community and probably shine better than most.
I am reliably informed that the best we have ever done is to win – once – the Africa Cup of Nations in the 1980s.
Then at, some point, the Gor Mahia club won the African Club Championships. In spite of all the talent and ability there is in this country, we still have never been able to get anywhere close to be considered worthy of playing in the World Cup. Should we not rethink our strategy going forward?
There is a ministry or department charged with the responsibility of running sports nationally. People who have a passion to do this job should get it. If we are going to get anywhere, it will be necessary to put resources at the disposal of sports managers while at the same time taming these persons so that these resources are well spent. Sports is a big industry that will employ many talented young people.
Wamugunda is Dean of Students at the University of Nairobi. [email protected]