John Michuki (1932-2012)

It is understandably easy to forget in America’s own continental sanctuary that the world is a rather more hostile place, where for the vast majority of people the concept of fitness is a luxury beyond their capacity to consider, much less achieve, a place where a puffy Achilles tendon or overly tight illiotibial band isn’t considered a problem.  It is in this light that I note the passing of John Michuki, a man who helped guide Kenya from its colonial past through its first five decades of nationhood, and in so doing laid the foundation for, then insured the rise and ongoing success of the Kenyan running phenomenon.

Michuki died from a heart attack last week in Nairobi at age 79.  I mention his passing not because he had any direct involvement with Kenya’s running excellence – in fact, he had none at all.  At the time of his passing he was serving his fourth five-year term as a Member of Parliament for his native Kangema, while also serving as the Minister for Environment and National Resources in the Kibaki government.

I mention Mr. Michuki because it was through men like him that Kenya’s runners were afforded the one absolute all athletes require to achieve their full potential, an environment of political stability and economic opportunity.   All we need do is consider the plight of nearby Somalia and Eritrea to see how a people can be haunted and hunted by the consequences of inopportune leadership in the delicate transition from colonial to independent rule, to witness how savage can be the whirlwind between chaos and civility. Continue reading