Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|September 26, 2022|4 Minutes|In Editor's Desk

Editor’s Desk

Africa shows the racists a clean pair of heels

Entrepreneurs looking for a slice of inspiration this week look no further than the fast feet of an African champion.

Kenyan marathon man and double Olympic winner Eliud Kipchoge smashed his own record by 30 seconds as he cruised serenely over the line at the Brandenburg Gate, in Berlin, to complete the more than 26 miles in 2 hours, 1 minute and 9 seconds . It is no mean feat for Kipchoge – who is 37 – who beat his nearest rival by nearly five minutes.

It is even more fitting that Kipchoge completed this feat in Berlin to strike a blow for black athletes. It evokes inspirational memories of cocking a snook at Europe’s stupid fantasies of racial supremacy with sheer African endurance and determination.

It was in Berlin that Jesse Owens – his real name was James Clarence and his primary school teacher called him  JC –   ran rings around Hitler’s supermen in 1936 to win four Olympic gold medals. Hitler left the stadium without shaking the hand of Owens; disgraceful, in my view the Fuhrer should have been asking for his autograph.

Owens – the “Buckeye Bullet “as he was known at college – had already written his name across Hitler’s blonde-hair blue-eyed, fairy tale, Ayran dream.

Activists told Owens not to compete in Berlin in 1936 because it was tantamount to collaborating with the Nazi regime. On the contrary, I believe Owens taking to the track in Berlin was the best way in the world to wave two fingers to those fools who believe excellence  is dependent upon the colour of your skin.

Owens was faster than anything, anyone, had ever seen; it is strange that the United States, the land of his birth that gloried in the Berlin victory, took  40 years to honour him with a presidential medal.

In more recent times, another African athlete also waved a symbolic two fingers to the sins of the fascist looters of Mussolini’s Italy.

Marathon runner Abebe  Bakili  – an infantry officer in  the Ethiopian. Imperial Guard – was the first to win an Olympic gold medal for Africa at the 1960 Olympics in Rome and he too made a statement as he pounded the road. Abebe ran barefoot in the marathon because his ill-fitting running shoes gave him blisters.

Near the end of the grueling route through Rome, Abebe ran past the huge, stone, Obelisk of Axum in the Piazza di Porta Capena. The Obelisk of Axum had been a bone of contention ever since Mussolini’s fascist forces looted it and took it in triumph back to Rome in 1937. Abebe was growing tired at this point in the race, but  he purposefully quickened to his pace to make a point that the fleet-footed generation of Ethiopia wanted their antiquity back.

It took nearly half a century for the politicians to work it out, but in 1997 the Obelisk of Axum was returned and unveiled in 2008  Sadly, Abebe was paralysed from the waist down in a car accident and died in 1973 at just 41.

Yet Abebe achieved much in a short life. So has Kipchoge who wore a bib in this weekend’s race proclaiming :” Impossible is nothing.”

Take to heart all three stories this week and put yourself ahead of the pack.