Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Swimming to China

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A Kubatana subscriber made some good points recently in the “should politics and sports mix” debate:

In the midst of all the negative news coming out of Zimbabwe of late, many may have missed the positive news of the legendary Kirsty Coventry, who having already won various medals in many an international swimming arena, continues to swim her way to the top of the world swimming rankings. Coventry broke the world’s oldest short-course record at the World Short Course Championships, recently held in Manchester England on April 12th. Kirsty also won a gold medal in the 200-meter individual medley. During her celebratory interviews, Kirsty Coventry excitedly spoke of her wins, and expressed how much she was looking forward to heading to Beijing China, to represent Zimbabwe at the Olympics in August.

Personally, I support Kirsty’s ascent to fame and swimming stardom, and have felt proud as a Zimbabwean as she has won medal after medal, and broken record after record over the years. However, I have to say I found myself pausing in some degree of disbelief at Ms. Coventry’s expressed anticipation of a visit to Beijing. Ms. Coventry was also asked a question about the crisis that was engulfing Zimbabwe as she, on the other end of the world, painted a positive image of the country. Ms. Coventry reportedly replied that she tries to “stay out of politics”. I do too ….. for the most part! But honestly, what Zimbabwean in this day and age has the luxury to “stay out of politics” !!!?

I think it would be wrong and almost hypocritical for Kirsty Coventry to go to China if she does qualify to go to the upcoming Olympics. Doing so would demonstrate, in my opinion, that she represents her own personal ambitions and interests, and not Zimbabwe’s. Her claim of efforts to “stay out of politics” though understandable are not realistic, and would in this instance be a betrayal of her claim at representing Zimbabwe as she swims her way to the top. Ms. Coventry instead, holds a unique position to represent Zimbabwe in a more meaningful and unselfish manner. As a world renowned Zimbabwean star athlete, she should either speak out against the atrocities going on in Zimbabwe, or quietly boycott China to show her solidarity with the ordinary Zimbabweans who have absolutely nothing to celebrate or look forward to at this particular time, except survival. Reports are coming out that as the ship carrying a consignment of weapons from China now stands to be recalled back to China, China on the other hand, is preparing another consignment of reportedly “more sophisticated” weapons to be flown directly from China to Harare within the coming week!!!

I am no politician, but I consider myself a fairly intelligent being. China’s disregard for the significance of its arms sales to Zimbabwe, demonstrates at best, an utter disregard and disinterest for the value of the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans who will certainly be massacred by these weapons, and at worst, demonstrates what many have said all along. China has no respect for human rights, and in Zimbabwe’s case, like in Rwanda, is seeking to facilitate, aid and enable genocide by the Mugabe regime. Even the pursuit for economic supremacy has its bounds, and no Zimbabwean should stand aside while China massacres our people as a stepping stone to economic supremacy. No Zimbabwean blood should aid China’s economic rise. As Mugabe cries foul to perceived new attempts at colonization of Zimbabwe by the West, he is willing to shed our blood as he hands over the country to those from the East. Even the apolitical Kirsty Coventry needs to look beyond the potential gold medals and the prospects of enhanced fame, and take a stand on one side or the other on this issue. I will be damned to find any Zimbabwean, a true Zimbabwean, anywhere in this world, who is truly “staying out of politics” today. Kirsty should certainly continue swimming her way to the top, but certainly not to China. She can still prove herself the best on other venues that will certainly present themselves in the future after China, but China is no venue for any Zimbabwean to be competing under any guise of any form of a positive spirit as is supposedly embodied by the Olympics. In my view, they might as well extinguish the Olympics torch when it gets to China, and carry on with the games instead of trying to pull a veil over the rest of us. There is nothing positive-spirited about China from an ordinary Zimbabwean’s perspective today, unless you are looking out for the personal gains that come from such an association with China. Currently, the only Zimbabweans I know of who are benefiting in any way from China are Mugabe and his cronies. Which side does Ms. Coventry stand, on this issue, in which EVERY other Zimbabweans has taken a stand?

Please share your views directly with Kirsty and also congratulate her on her wins on her blog (You’ll need to register to leave a comment).

4 comments to “Swimming to China”

  1. Comment by Jamela:

    Rubbish! Zimbabweans are cowards, the past 8 years are littered with evidence to support this. Mugabe has treated us with the contempt that we probably deserve, and when he does that we can’t do anything for ourselves to face his regime down but go crying to the so called international community trying to get them to intervene. Now you lot are sitting on your arses blogging and taking radox baths and now you want Coventry to offer herself as the sacrificial lamb! How very Zimbabwean – get someone to pay the price for us! Please stop pointing fingers!

  2. Comment by Kubatana.net speaks out from Zimbabwe » Blog Archive » More than one way to pluck a jongwe:

    [...] Jamela posted an impassioned comment on Amanda’s recent blog. Jamela makes a really good point and then falls short on a couple of others. First, and most importantly, Radox can do wonders to keep one’s activism at a high level. If you’re in Zimbabwe Jamela, maybe you’d like to have a Radox bath with me and we can talk this through? Clearly you have no understanding of the degree of advocacy and activism in Zimbabwe at this time. [...]

  3. Comment by farai:

    Wouldn’t it be much better to USE the public opportunity of the Olympics than boycott? Our cricketers Henry Olonga and Andy Flower did well for change and democracy in Zimbabwe with their black bands and statement. With all her wins and gold medals to come, Kirsty could make a great statement. Mugabe called her his ‘golden girl’ or something like? Perhaps a personal appeal on the Olympic podium? But she’s very young and needs support rather than criticism. It’s hard to face a pack of journalists asking tough questions.

    Also, we need to remember that there are millions of lovely, gentle, kind-hearted and idealistic Chinese people… many fighting for their human rights and for peace and justice… just like us. Remember the shame of ‘the world’ thinking that all Zimbabweans are like Zanu-pfers? ‘Governments’… well, we know about them… and Chinese people don’t even get to vote… not yet anyway. The Olympics is a chance for protesters… and perhaps in a short time the Chinese people will be calling on Zimbabweans to support THEM in their struggle for democracy and justice.

    The brilliant action by workers and ordinary people across SADC countries on the Chinese shipment of arms could be extended to cover all Africa… imagine no arms to Darfur, Central African Republic, Congo… IMAGINE! People power needs to be put into ACTION.

    Zimbabweans did it! Zimbabweans voted overwhelmingly for democracy and change on 29 March. And, things HAVE changed even though the struggle continues. People power… we can do it!

  4. Comment by Bob: Water Clear 'n' Clean:

    It is about time that the olympic comittee allowed athletes from any country to compete as a non national competitor. For too long there has been too much politics in sport. I know the scumbags of the world will always try to hijack sport for there own agenda but if the olympics allowed non national competitors perhaps we would all be less nationalistic and Mugabe and his ilk couldn’t get on the bandwaggon of these events.