Exciting moments as music and sports come together
Posted Thursday, July 26 2012 at 17:43
Since his retirement from active competition, one of Kenya’s Olympic heroes, Douglas Wakiihuri who won the silver medal in the marathon at the 1988 Games in Seoul, is more likely to be found in a music studio these days.
To him, the same dedication and commitment that was demanded of him as an athlete, is also required to succeed in music.
“If you do a little work with your voice, you can bring it up to a level where you’re able to sing,” says Wakiihuri who became Kenya’s first ever world marathon champion in 1987.
Among the albums recorded by the runner is “Ganbare” which is Japanese for “do your best.” Wakiihuri was the first among many Kenyan marathon runners who left the country to train in Japan where he still retains a cult status.
Currently putting the finishing touches on a new album “Smile Africa”, he mixes a passion for sport and music, training in the morning at a charity project with children in Kibera and then spending the afternoon at the music studio he built at his home in Lang'ata, Nairobi.
Contrary to popular belief, the white glove that Wakiihuri always wore while running is, however, not an imitation of Michael Jackson’s famous glove.
“This was just to enable me to wipe the sweat from my face while running,” he says.
The synergy of sport and music is a powerful trend globally, although there have only been a few instances of this association in Kenya.
In 2000, Kenya’s cricket team led by the then captain, Maurice Odumbe, together with Nairobi’s Hot Rod Band recorded a song called “Kenya Tunaweza” to boost the team’s morale ahead of a major international tournament in Nairobi.
This Olympic year, Odumbe attempted to get corporate support to bring together Team Kenya into the studio to revive the song but there was little interest.
“Our aim was always to record a song that could be used as a promotional theme during competitions like the Olympics,” says the retired cricketer. “The truth is such marketing ideas are still a novelty in Kenya.”
As the 30th Olympic gets underway in London Friday (July 27), the Kenya contingent, particularly the athletes, will be red-hot favourites to win medals.
However, the country has not embraced the culture of rallying the country’s sportsmen and building the energy of the fans through music.
The World Cup in South Africa will long be remembered as much for the drama on the pitch as for the throbbing music that formed the soundtrack to the event.
The biggest of these songs was a revival of the classic song by Cameroonian Army band Golden Sounds called Zangalewa (Zaminamina), performed by Shakira and Freshly Ground.