Kyomuhendo Ateenyi (Uganda) on Olympism in the Twenty-First Century: The Place of a Value That Is Timeless

August 31, 2012

‘Oh Sport, you are peace...!’ ~Coubertin, Ode to Sport, IX

It was through an antique Sound Solo radio belonging to my headmistress grandmother—which she had the tendency of placing on a mahogany table that consumed almost the entire space in her small office—that I heard of the Olympics, as Maywood would sing of love, for the very first time.
That fine morning, she spread the word through an errand runner to summon us, her five grandchildren at the school, to her office. We promptly obliged. Then from a box of chalk—that which is used for writing on chalkboards in my country—she lovingly revealed hot and delicious pancakes.

As we rapaciously gnawed at them, a warm deep baritone akin to Don Williams’s blasted like a thunderclap out of the radio, saying that the authorities in my country were to honor John Akii-Bua for ‘putting his country on the world map’ as though it was not there in the first place. This happened when he so audaciously defied all that odded sport and the world at the time by historically scooping gold at the Munich Olympics in a world record time of 47.82 seconds.

From then on, I took keen interest in the philosophy that had handed an opportunity to a poor black fellow to meritoriously compete at the world stage and beat men from nations of disturbing opulence which colonized the peoples of my country with a plethora of their ideas. In summarizing my awe, Coubertin the poet, at his best, comes in handy: “Oh Sport, you are Justice..!”

Olympism, at its most basic, extols individual excellence and nondiscrimination among nations, races, religions, political systems, and ideologies. While the Olympic Truce was a main feature of the ancient Games, twenty-first century Olympism should concern itself more with the purpose that the values that are unrestricted by time.

One need not wait for the yellow-orange flame to dance off the Olympic torch, the five beautiful multicolored rings to embrace in primordial bliss with one another, or the poet-laureate to proclaim Citius, Altius, Fortius, for Article 3 and 6 of the Olympic Charter to be invoked. Humanity today is too fractured, perhaps as never before, to wait for the Games to benefit from the illuminating ethos of Olympism.

There is a direct need to teach all populations of the world, fractured as they are by the lust and craving for wealth, these values year round through clinics, coaching, and national associations. This arduous effort should be targeted first at the youth through lobbying and inclusion of the subject in national curriculums. This way, they may inadvertently find themselves happy confidantes in the grand orchestra of peaceful human co-existence.
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