Thursday, February 14

Kenya's Runners Race Through Fear

An excerpt from Der Speigel:

Since retiring in 2000, Kiptanui has worked as a talent scout, a coach and even as a trainer of the Kenyan national team at the World Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Paris. In the meantime, he built up a real estate company. He is what O'Connell calls "a role model."

But Kiptanui also lives in fear. Three weeks ago the police stopped his driver, who had just bought a sack of potatoes. Everyone knows Kiptanui's cars. "You're transporting weapons," the police officers said to the driver. Then they beat him and, before letting him go, said: "We're going to kill you, and we're going to kill your boss, too."

"The police can murder people in this country," Kiptanui says. "Anyone. At any time. Just like that."
Kiptanui has made his case publicly, a move that makes him an even bigger target for the fanatics. Three weeks after the murder of Lucas Sang, marathon runner Wesley Ngetich was killed by a poison-tipped arrow, and Luke Kibet, the 2007 world champion in the marathon, was hit in the head by a rock. He survived, but since then he has carried a German-made G3 automatic rifle for protection. Kiptanui, for his part, no longer wants to hide.

Kenya's athletes seem to have been caught in a deadly cycle. "Of course, they use their money to help their communities. They practically have a moral obligation to do so," says Colm O'Connell. "And in the end, who knows whether the money is really used to buy a sack of corn or a bow?" But few in the Rift Valley believe that Kenya's sports idols, of all people, are somehow in league with the militias.

"It's absurd," says Kiptanui. "Overseas, we all run for Kenya and are considered the pride of the country -- no matter what ethnic group we belong to. But, here at home, everything is falling apart, and we're fighting each other."

Go read the whole article.



Blogger bl said...

They kill runners too.


It makes me want to scream.

You're not a Kenyan runner. You're a Kikuyu runner and somebody doesn't like you just because of the tribe you're from.

It makes me wonder even more about Barack Obama and how much Kenyans really embrace him.

I'm going to stop with this depressed rambling about ethnic/tribal identity.

February 15, 2008 6:49 PM  

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