Patriotism, according to George Bernard Shaw, is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it. The Chinese have taken the idea to a whole new level, though. In less than a week we learned of fake fireworks, possibly underage gymnasts, and IMHO the most egregious, the declaration that a 7-year-old with uneven teeth was unfit to be the face of China. All this done in the name of national pride. Ironic how the things that were supposed to make them shine in the world’s eyes have left them shuffling their proverbial feet in embarrassment. That’s just the way sin works: first the pride, and then the fall.
To be fair, some of the Chinese efforts at putting on a great show are just plain cute. Like the Olympic mascots, the Fuwa– Beibei, Jingjing, Huanghuang, Yingying and Nini. Their names spell out “Beijing welcomes you”, which is the refrain of this catchy Olympic song.
Other nations, like my beloved Kenya, don’t have much to sing about. Our sole rower was second last (see the Aug 13 entry). Our boxers went out in the first round. How is it possible that Togo has a medal— in canoe/kayak slalom of all things— and we are at quota zero (as of writing this post)?
Currently tops in the medal table in Africa is Zimbabwe— 4 medals— all from the same person, Kirsty Coventry. I wonder about her. She is clearly a world-class swimmer and could swap her passport and not lose much. Why does she continue as a Zimbabwean? Patriotism?
Which brings me to our very own Swahili-speaking blue-eyed boys, Jason and David Dunford. They’ve done Kenya proud. Jason got to race that GOAT (Greatest Olympian of All Time, and no, I didn’t make that up myself) Michael Phelps twice. Jason was even the Olympic record-holder for a brief seven minutes! Unheard of in our parts! He came in fifth in the final, but with such worthy opponents, he was just great. Will we see him again in London in 2012, still in the green, red and black? I liked the way he tugged at his t-shirt, right where ‘KENYA’ was printed whenever his name was announced. Patriotism?
If you’ll excuse me now, I need to go prepare for my patriotic task—sitting in front of the telly with the cat at my feet…
Kenya went on to win 14 medals- 5 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze. The next best performance (9 medals) was 20 years ago in Seoul, the only time we won a gold medal in a non-athletics event. So, this time, there was a lot of pride, but there were also polemics, with an athlete being denied a chance to run, and eventually being evicted from the Olympic Village after dark. How shameful. Definitely not patriotism.