Barely 24 hours after the emergence of another Kenyan’s unsurprising success at the just concluded February 10 marathon, news of the winning has triggered varying thoughts, remarks and provocations among Nigerians –particularly residents of Lagos, the host state. That the race, this time, was reportedly dominated by Kenyans and Ethiopians, was enough ruse to talk about, and to draw or point early critical observations.
No doubt, the fact that these outsiders (Kenyan-Ethiopian champions) sit on all the prizes, after defeating over 150, 000 other participants, is quite fascinating. This, in a way for sure, translates that the marathon initiative by the Lagos state government in partnership with Access Bank is recording laudable success as experts have identified this to influence increased attraction of foreigners which, in the long run, is capable of yielding more and more investment for the state.
While the celebration continued from yesterday, February 10, 2018, some Nigerians –especially the social media activists have taken to their twitter handles and facebook walls to register dissatisfaction, calling the state government and governing board of directors of the marathon to revisit the contest modalities. Their pain, as expressed, though some counter-reactions described it as immature, was Lagos’ folly in celebrating outsiders to the detrimental neglect of natives.
According to these people, a Lagos marathon should celebrate and reward at least a Nigerian if not a Lagosian in particular. For them, the idea of inviting Olympic sprint champions to cart away the local prize is not only demoralizing, but also betrays the goal of the hosting. Amao Abdussalaam, writer and social commentator, in a facebook post, posited that the earlier the better for the contest to change name: that, calling it Lagos Marathon with these three consecutive winnings by our East African Brothers is perhaps a big joke.
From Amao’s point of view, the contest has never been a complete Lagos thing but an East Africa-Lagos make up. In his suggestion, we must either change the nomenclature or exclude long leg outsiders.
“…every year, these East Africans would travel to Lagos to collect ‘Lagos Money’. When will a Lagosian ever win this Marathon…? Upon all the fast running gala hawkers “wey boku” for Lagos, we never still carry first,” he cried.
“We should either rename the contest, exclude these people always collecting ‘our money’ or train our own fast long distance runners to run for the money prize,” Amao added.
On the other side of the equation, so much kudos have since been given to the Lagos state government under the leadership of Gov. Ambode to acknowledge the giant stride of the development since inception. Comrade Oshin, economist and business strategist of Village Market, a lagos-based commodity reseller, in an interview with Ventures, lauded Governor Akinwumi Ambode for investing this much in sport, describing the demonstration as a dynamic growth mechanism.
“Initiatives like this will keep positioning our Lagos as a premier state. This says so much about our sense of innovation, and our belief and support to sport as a tool for harmonizing nations. If there is anything this will help us achieve as a leading and model state; it is the promotion of our global outlook and the attraction of the larger world for investment or tourism.
“This is what we call a dynamic growth mechanism. And Lagos will always top on the scoreboard.”
Also speaking with our correspondent, Mrs Khadeejah Kolawole, Head of Department, Private Law, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun state, congratulated the Kenyan winners on their worthy success. In her felicitation remark, she highlighted the significance of racing to a typical Kenyan and the pleasure they derive therein.
“Forget it. These guys are not desperate to win the money. Running is a lifestyle for them. They have built endurance over time from the natural architecture of geographical displacement in their homeland. By default, they should win and be celebrated –it is their unique selling point.
“Gov. Ambode has a pass mark, here –this is our way, as Nigerians, to show how tolerating and transparent we could be. We are not a xenophobic nation. My congratulations!”
Meanwhile, Kenya-born Frenchman, Abraham Kiprotich, in the spirit of celebration, has attributed his success to his demonstration of consistency. In a statement by him, as quoted by the press, he noted that consistency is all that mattered in an exhaustive race like the 42Km #RunLagos marathon.
“I just made sure that I was consistent in my time for the race and that is the most important thing. Long distance race is about timing and not your competitors. Once you are consistent with time, try to improve on it no matter what happens to the other athletes, you are one step away from winning the race.”
As generally attested to, Lagos, the state of excellence –as it prides itself in Africa, had always been a prototype state with so many pioneering projects that other states later adopt. Because of this, there is a question recently flying around: will other states invent their copy of the marathon novelty?