Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In my mind, I am a Kenyan

There are many motivational running pictures doing the rounds on Facebook at present. Some hit the mark, some don't. I saw this one this morning and for whatever reason I saw it in a completely different way.
My immediate thought was ‘Why?’

Let’s examine a few facts:
  • Kenya is still a poor, developing country with a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.519, putting the country at position 145 out of 186, one of the lowest in the world.
  • About 38% of Kenyans live in absolute poverty. 53 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
  • A significant portion of the population regularly starves and is heavily dependent on food aid.
  • Kenya's capital, Nairobi, is home to Kibera, one of the world's largest slums. Between 170,000 and 1 million people are believed to live in this shanty town.
  • Many areas are isolated due to poor roads, an inadequate railway network, under-used water transport and expensive air transport and farmers often have to leave food to rot in the fields because they cannot access markets.
  • Child labour is common in Kenya.
  • Thousands of children are involved in full-time prostitution, and UNICEF has estimated that, in some areas, up to 30% of girls are subject to prostitution.
  • The life expectancy is approximately 55 years.
  • The infant mortality rate is high at approximately 44 deaths per 1000 children.
  • Maternal mortality is high, partly because of female genital mutilation. This practice is however on the decline and was banned in the country in 2011
  • Diseases of poverty such as HIC/AIDS, pneumonia, diarrhoea and malnutrition are common. HIV prevalence is about 6.3% of the adult population
  • In the 2007 elections, protests escalated into ethnic violence and destruction of property, almost 1,000 people were killed and nearly 600,000 displaced
  • In mid-August 2012, tribal conflict led to the highest death toll through deliberate killings since the last election.
  • Kenya has been the scene of several atrocities attributed to terrorist elements, most recently the Westgate Mall shooting which resulted in at least 72 deaths
  • However, the country is probably best known for its dominance in middle-distance and long-distance athletics. Kenya has consistently produced Olympic, World and Commonwealth Games champions in various distance events, especially in 800m, 1500m, 3,000m steeplechase, 5000m, 10000m and the marathon.

Be careful what you wish for……..

This post is not a dig at, or a critique of, Kenya and its fiercely proud population.
Kenya is one of the cradles of mankind and it supports an amazing variety of fauna and flora. The "Big Five" animals of Africa (the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros and elephant) can all be found and Kenya is the setting for one of the Natural Wonders of the World – the great wildebeest migrationKenya has a rich and diverse culture.
This post is a dig at the so-called civilized or 1st world. We are often quick to make judgements on other countries not as ‘fortunate’ as ourselves, often picking out solitary facts without considering the whole picture. 
I understand the message behind the picture. I am a runner and, yes, part of me wishes that I could run “like a Kenyan”, because what I am being told is that "If I was a Kenyan I would a better runner because all Kenyans are good runners"
The logic is probably a little flawed! 
After all if someone said, “In my mind I am English”, would that imply that in their mind they were good at cricket?

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