Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lessons from the Olympic Games

I have been enthralled for the past two weeks with the action, high drama plus thrills and spills at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Mainland China. I never thought there were so many sporting disciplines in the world!
I was fascinated by the contrasting fortunes of the Mozambican runner, Maria Mutola, and Kenya's Pamela Jelimo in the 800 metres women's race. Mutola has been dominant in this event for the past decade and was named "the Maputo Express" for her exploits. But two or so years ago, Mutola now in her 30s started to dip in performance and I believed she would not go to Beijing for the Olympics. Alas, Mutola did and she was well-beaten into 6th place by the 18-year old Jelimo as the Kenyan won the gold medal.
It was almost a similar story in the 10,000 metres race in which former champion Gebre Haile-Sellasie of Ethiopia lost out to his one-time protege, Kenenisa Bekele.
The lesson I drew from these two events is that it is better to retire when one is on top of their game, when they are still energetic, when things are still good after achieving what is to be had. Otherwise the end is like the sorry tale of Mutola and Sellasie.
This is a word especially for those that cling to public offices or attempt to do so, particularly in Africa. I cite Africa because that is where I come from and it is where I have noticed worrying trends with this practice.
Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe won several gold medals in the 2004 Olympics and called it quits soon after the Games. That was good. They that have ears, hear this.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Now in Tromsø...

It's a funny old world. Last week I was in Malawi, the UK and this week I'm in Tromsø the northern part of Norway. I will be at University of Tromsø for a semester, and this institution is said to be the northern-most university on the globe. Looking at a world map it is clear Tromsø is quite close to the Arctic Circle...brrrrrrr!!
The town is small but incredibly beautiful...there are hills that remind me of Michiru, Ndirande, Soche and Mpingwe around Blantyre in Malawi, and there is a lake and dams to spice up the environment.

The views are stunning and the air in the morning incredibly fresh.

It is hard to sleep at the moment as there is a brief period of 'darkness' Malawian standards, kachisisila, (twilight) between Midnight and 1am!

Also it takes 40 minutes to walk between the campus and the hostels. By the time winter arrives, this will be a concern!

It is not easy to adjust with the Malawian, British and Swedish way of doings things quite fresh on the mind. Imagine: I was bamboozled by the shower in my bath and it took some 5minutes before I figured out how to operate it!! Obtaining a simcard and activating it has been an experience worth noting...passport details taken and waiting for severals before it is operational!!
At the moment I'm way out of my comfort zone especially with my laptop broken down and being homesick and pining for the ones I love in Malawi. But as always, God's grace is always sufficient. I'm sure Tromsø will be part of me in time to come just like London, Reading, Ørebro and Gothenburg.