By Nqaba Matshazi
I felt a surge of patriotism and pride when I saw Kirsty Coventry carrying Zimbabwe’s flag at the opening ceremony of London 2012; it was a moment of great joy as a Zimbabwean. After all she is our only realistic medal hope, having won seven medals in the last two Olympics, all our hopes were with her.
For a country desperate for a hero, Kirsty is just what the doctor ordered. For the duration of the Olympics and slightly beyond, Kirsty will bring together a racially divided nation and temporarily heal the wounds that fester in this nation. But she is an unlikely hero, being white and being a woman, double jeopardy if you ask me.
Despite President Robert Mugabe describing her as “our golden girl”, racial relations remain very strained in the southern African country.
More than a decade after embarking on its land reform programme, which was targeted at white commercial farmers, Zimbabwe has begun an indigenisation programme, probably the last straw which will force a large section of the remaining white population out of the country.
But Kirsty, an ageing warhorse, has for the duration of the Olympics been able to unite a nation and for the duration of the Olympics, all racial divisions shall remain forgotten, as the nation rallies behind its sporting hero.
Daily rhetoric in the country’s state media hammers on how bad the white folk are and how they have destroyed Zimbabwe. Even in the new constitution that is being crafted one of the main political parties, Zanu PF wants to have a clause differentiating between the whites and the blacks, with the latter being referred to as “indigenous”.
The party wants a specific clause in the constitution saying only a black person can be president.
With such divisions along racial lines, it would have been understandable had Kirsty chosen to represent another country in the Olympics, but she has persevered put that behind her, even carried the Zimbabwe’s flag at the opening ceremony of London 2012.
So for now we will forget all that divides us and rally behind our heroine. Since its independence in 198, Zimbabwe won eight gold medals: Kirsty has bagged seven of them, making her a real Zimbabwean hero.
Nqaba Matshazi is a Zimbabwean journalist who blogs for http://www.africaontheblog.com
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