Edel Ochami (Kenya) on Unity in Diversity

August 23, 2012

The Olympics have always been an opportunity to bring people from all walks of life together for one single purpose: to celebrate sportsmanship. Whenever I think about the events of the Olympics, I always try to imagine what a rarity it is, having all those people in one place in a single moment, all sharing the same line of thought and the billions more watching around the world. I think of the incredible moment when these people share in the joys and dreams of the participants or feel their sorrow, as they accompany them on this incredible journey.
The Olympics is about excellence, pushing your body to the limit in hopes of achieving your full potential. For the participants, it is about breaking boundaries, redefining greatness and it is no wonder that each Olympics comes with a new world record. For those like me, it helps us see our capability; the lengths dedication will take us in life, just like those Olympic participants who have been preparing for almost four years for their moment. The Games show us real respect for people and their professions. When I reflect upon the Olympic Games, the grand majesty that it is, I can’t help but remember everyone who has contributed to making the event a success. From the timekeeper, the entertainers, the coordinators, and sponsors to participants. The participants, as we can tell, respect each other regardless of the outcome, for it is in the interest of friendly competition that everyone gathers for this unique event. The Olympics are ultimately a source of forming friendships and ties that help us appreciate each other more as individuals and nations.

The unity seen during the Olympics among people and nations is a welcome from the constant fighting we witness almost daily in the news. It’s a chance to embrace differences. In my country of Kenya, after the 2008 elections, violence rocked the nation along tribal lines. The division in the nation was evident from the work place to the classrooms. The Media Focus on Africa Foundation in conjunction with Search for Common Ground co-produced a series that helped change the way Kenyans looked at each other. Titled ‘The Team’, it dwelled on a group of young people from different tribes and socioeconomic backgrounds who had to overcome their own prejudices so that their football team, Imani F.C could win a tournament.

In my country, this dream can be realized by having regular national sporting competitions with teams that have members from at least every county in the country. The diverse teams will learn to work together in their sport, be it football, rugby, or volleyball, against their differences and towards a common goal. This can also be worldwide by encouraging continental tournaments in which teams are made up of individuals from different nations. The Olympics clearly show us that when working for a common goal, especially in sports, human beings tend to unite regardless of background.
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