This week I read two news in a Kenyan newspaper. Both of them were related to the Kenyan athletes performing in the Commonwealth Games 2022 and winning medals. One of them won the silver medal while the other one got a bronze one. What was striking was that invariably they gave credit for their success to their parents, community and country.
One of them mentioned that she had been trying to enter into Kenya’s International Athletes team for long. It was with the blessing of her late mother and the local Pastor that she could make it. She also said about a prayer group that she had formed in her community, where people were fasting on different days for her success. She said it also contributed to her winning the silver medal.
I was happily surprised to see the humbleness and sense of belongingness to the community prevailing among the athletes in Kenya. They didn’t have an individualistic approach to their success, no sole ownership, but a sense to give credit to those around them in the community. It was also striking that both the athletes who mentioned their Mother and Father respectively had lost them sometime back. Thus mentioning the dead parent and giving all credit to them for their success in athletics is a remarkable value system that we are noticing here.
How different it is from the society where we see that sportspersons live as if they are superhuman and have come with a certain kind of superpower. Many of them also behave in a way which is certainly not respectful in society. But here is the stark contrast coming from Kenya where politeness, humility and a sense of belongingness prevail over the individualistic ego and pride. It has its own benefits that one never feels lonely in the ivory tower of fame and wealth. They do not have to go to a psychiatrist for addressing issues of depression.
It is very clear that the more we remain as a part of society, the more we find meaning and satisfaction in life. Our existence is interdependent on each other, we are never alone, and so we do not become lonely. A sense of belongingness gives humility and contentedness to an individual without which the success feels temporary and hollow. It is the reason that even those people who have achieved extraordinary feats get into depression and disappointment at a time. They yearn for continuous prestige and publicity. They cannot live a life without the limelight, as it is the only way for them to connect to people, and be among them. It is because of a lack of real connection with society and people. They need everyone to follow them, not walk with them. Rather than being a part of the society, they feel the society is for them, because of them. A sense of superiority takes away their simplicity and humility.
The examples of Kenyan athletes were full of inspiration, not only because of what they have achieved on the ground but also because of how they accept this success. For them, it is not only they who were responsible for medals. It was rather family and community had been a community who they felt were the force behind their achievement.