Thursday, June 01, 2006

Happy Madaraka Day

Today being the day Kenyans celebrate internal self rule, I thought it might be appropriate to voice my opinions on who should qualify to play for Kenya's representative teams.
We are a young country - less than 50 years old. Before Independence, there were no Kenyans as such, just a collection of people from various backgrounds and cultures, all gathered in the one area that was to become Kenya. After Independence some within the borders automatically became Kenyan. Others who held different passports, my family for example, had a choice: They could stay and live in Kenya as expatriates, or they could give up their foreign citizenships and become Kenyans. My family and many more like them, from all sorts of backgrounds, chose to become Kenyans. Some had been born in what was then British East Africa, some had been born elsewhere, but ALL who chose to became Kenyans. Over the years, people who were born in Kenya and hold Kenyan passports have traveled abroad, and others who were not Kenyans have moved with their families to live and work in our wonderful country. With the increased ease of air travel in recent years, these migrations have increased. So we have people born in Kenya living overseas, but still calling themselves Kenyan. We have people living in Kenya with foreign passports but helping build our country and calling themselves Kenyan. So who are the actual Kenyans? MY answer is simple: Anyone who holds family ties to Kenya, or has lived in Kenya long enough to have helped build the country in some way and wants to be called a Kenyan should be. Colour should not matter, nor should creed, nor the way they dress. Obviously, there need to be some parameters to this to make sure these people are genuine, but these are already laid out. As this is a cricket blog, I will skip some of the wider issues, and concentrate on this from a purely cricket perspective:
According to the ICC regulations on player eligibility, there are quite a lot of criteria one needs to meet in order to qualify to play for a country. The rules are convoluted and lengthy, so I will not go into them here. Suffice to say that anyone wanting to play for Kenya and not already holding a Kenyan passport, must go through a lot in order to qualify. It is not something someone can just wake up one morning and do. He/she would need to live in Kenya and work towards cricket development in Kenya for quite some time to be able to qualify. Anyone that has met these criteria is obviously not in this for the short term. They have shown their commitment to the country through qualifying to play for us. If the selectors decide they are good enough, that should be all that matters. After all, we owe it to our country to field the best possible team that we can from those that qualify. Leaving them out is not only playing into the hands of our opponents, it is also cheating Kenyans of their right to play for their country.


Mentalacrobatics said...

As you say we are a growing nation. We mould Kenya in our image. All of us together bring a part that becomes part of the whole.
Thank you for taking part.

UARIDI said...

Happy Madaraka day!!

Your post reminds me of my home town of Eldoret. There was no colour bar, no class divide. We were Kenyans and best of all from Eldy.

Thanks for the post

Osas said...

Well-written piece. Lynne Muthoni Wanyeki wrote an op-ed piece with a similar plea - though not devoid of criticism - in the currect "East African"; you may have seen it.

Especially in a time like this, when racism once again begins to emit its fetid miasm in Kenya, your posting is welcome and necessary.


Mama_JunkYard's said...

I have always wanted to stop by your blog to let you know that I really admire your commitment and indepth knowledge of Kenyan Cricket....It's not a game I understand but seeing your posts appear on the feed everyday is making rethink my opinion of cricket....

Anyway thank you very much for doing this post, for saying what so many of us re: who is Kenyan.

Happy Madaraka Day

Chemosit said...

Hey Mental, Uaridi, Osas & Mama,
thanks very much for dropping by.

I have always tthought we were lucky in Kenya as to how little racism there is. It is does seem to be on the rise though, which is sad. Hopefully efforts like this will bring people together rather than letting them drift apart.

@ Mama - all too few Kenyans understand cricket, which is a great shame. Slowly though this will change as people realise it is actually a great game, and one Kenya can be great at.