Australian High Commissioner to Kenya Ambassador Luke Williams has reiterated the value of sports in promoting peace among conflicting ethnic groups in Kenya.
Williams said sports promote harmony and equality, builds peace and brings positive change in society both locally and globally.
Speaking during the Tecla Lorupe Peace Race held at Turkwel in Pokot Central Sub County, Williams lauded Tecla Lorupe for her peace initiatives observing that Kenya is endowed with all it takes for prosperity.
“It is very encouraging to see young men and women drawn from Turkana, Pokot, Marakwet, and the neighbouring countries such as Uganda and South Sudan participating in such a historic race. This goes down in history for it will help cement relationships among the various neighbouring communities,” said the High Commissioner.
He reminisced about what the Kenyan trailblazer Lorupe achieved in 2000 when the Olympics were held in Sydney, Australia adding that Kenya and Australia share common diplomatic values and aspirations.
“Like Kenya, sports is in Australia’s DNA. Sports has the power to unite and excite people in every corner of the globe. I want to underline that Australia is committed to supporting the Tecla Lorupe Peace Race because this race is harnessing the power of sports in promoting peace and inspiring future athletes,” Williams reiterated.
He said that the world as a whole was experiencing difficult situations and problems because of conflicts whose remedies can start from the local and regional levels through such focused grassroots initiatives.
“Local initiatives such as this one in the North Rift are significant in finding solutions to global conflicts. We are encouraging local solutions to local problems and sports is great at bringing people together,” he said.
Meanwhile Peace Ambassador Tecla on her part congratulated the sponsors of the event among them KenGen, Souls 4 Hope, Cooperative Bank among others for crowning the event.
She stated that the athletes who had shown talent will be connected with talent training organisations for them to realise their dreams, calling on more partners to join her foundation in her peace initiatives.
“Our people get into conflicts because of resources and we don’t want to sing every time and again about resources. We have seen athletes from Turkana winning in both men and women categories and this is a show of unity and development,” she stated adding that people can earn decent lives through sporting activities.
Lorupe explained that Kenya has good sharp shooters who can be helped to participate in archery which is an internationally recognised sport that can earn them fame and a living rather than using the talent to fan conflicts.
“I want to tell our security forces that you can identify these sharp shooters and ask them to train in archery. These are Olympians only that they are using their sharp shooting skills in the wrong way,” she advised.
Lorupe exuded her confidence in promoting peace and talent through her Tecla Lorupe Foundation noting that there were numerous sporting talents within the region despite numerous hardships and challenges.
“I am also training refugees because I feel their trauma. When we talk about conflict it is also in this area because we have those who flee their countries because of conflicts,” she stated.
KenGen Managing Director Abraham Serem termed the event an extra-ordinary one saying the Organisation is a member of the community since it hosts its power plant that produces 106 megawatts of electricity.
“Conflicts bring suffering and misery in the community, therefore having such an event when people talk and compete with each other and see the similarities they have with others brings the peace that is so much required in this part of the country for development,” said Serem.
He said that KenGen had invested about Sh1 million towards establishment of a school at Turkwel and will pump in more to ensure the school comes to its best standards.
“We also sponsor bright students from the community who do very well through our KenGen Foundation with partnership with the Tecla Lorupe Foundation we can do more for the empowerment of this community,” the MD highlighted.
In the men’s race Jamin Ekai (Turkana) came first followed by Akuk Uthoo (Kakuma Refugee Camp – South Sudan) while in the women’s category, Martha Akeno (Turkana) came first followed by Angeline Alarai (Kakuma Refugee Camp – South Sudan) and Faith Kimutai (Elgeyo Marakwet) was in third position.
Ekai told KNA that he had abandoned banditry to capitalise on athletics noting that he had fallen a victim of livestock theft after he lost several goats to bandits two weeks ago.
By Richard Muhambe and Anthony Melly