Londiwe Goba (South Africa) on Respect, Excellence and Friendship: The African Perspective on the Meaning of These Values and How They Can Be Applied to Bring About Social Upliftment in the Twenty-First Century

August 29, 2012

Over the decades, Africa’s contribution to the Olympics has been through the toil of its sons and daughters fighting on this world stage to make her proud.
We have seen African stars, like Pamela Jelimo, who persevered despite her circumstances and became the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic gold medal. She is a shining display of Olympic values and is a role model to young African women, like myself, inspiring us to keep working hard to get to where we want to go and overcome our hurdles in life.

Interpreting these values in twenty-first century Africa is possible if we understand them in light of African values such as Ubuntu. Ubuntu can be described as a value that appeals to everyone to respect the humanity of other people and to consider and build one another in a spirit of unity and togetherness.

One might suggest sport as a way of teaching these particular values but one of the challenges that come with this suggestion is the lack of facilities available at schools to make sports such as track and field available to young children and young people in many communities.

Many of the schools in my neighborhood, for example, lack such facilities, equipment and personnel for sports to even be considered an option. The lack of activities for young people to involve themselves in correlates very strongly with high drug and alcohol abuse cases among young people as well as the high teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDs rates among the youth in South Africa.

In the future, maybe our governments need to prioritize building more facilities to encourage young people to play sports. I believe, however, that we need to also focus on increasing recognition to ‘cultural sports’ that are available to young children and young people in underprivileged areas as a way of bringing social upliftment.

I remember as a child playing games such as Ushumpu, Ushigoshi and Ingqatu for hours on end with neighborhood children. We would usually play until the streetlights came on and our parents chided us for coming in late and filthy from playing. Those games were what usually kept us out of any real trouble and continue to have value today. With greater recognition, they would be a useful tool to fight against the deterioration of values as a result of drug and alcohol abuse.

One of the ways that I propose this recognition should be given is by creating a more formalized system of rules for these games and creating a platform in which teams can compete in a competition, like an Olympics Cultural Games Competition.

This is one of the ways of bringing about social upliftment to African countries and inspiring young people to achieve their goals like Pamela Jelimo was able to do through the values of respect, excellence, and friendship.
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