Keneisa Bekele won Berlin Marathon but he may be losing the hearts of Ethiopians

September 25,2016

Long distance running legend Kenenisa Bekele won Berlin Marathon. Took him 2:03:03 hours to finish the distance – just some six seconds away from world marathon record (2:02:57).

Kenya’s strong man in the distance, Wilson Kipsang, finished second in 2:03:13 hours.

Although Kenenisa won Berlin marathon, he seem to be losing touch and support from Ethiopian political and human rights activists over his remark on Athlete Feyisa Lilesa’s protest sign at the Rio Olympic.

he acknowledged that it is Feyisa Lilesa’s right to do what he did but he did not dare to speak against the situation in Ethiopia. Rather sounded to distance himself from the idea of opposing the killings across Ethiopia which turned out to be offensive for many Ethiopians. The way many sees it, his support for the regime in power is grounded on opportunism and fear. In fact, he is married from the ruling ethnic party.

Kenenisa Bekele, now also one of the leading businessmen in Ethiopia, was born and grew up in Bokoji,Arsi of the Oromia regional State and he is of oromo speaking family.

[adToAppearHere]Some activist see Kenenisa’s disinterest, or lack of courage as some put it, to talk about the killings in Amhara and Oromia regions of Ethiopia as something related to his vested interest to protect his business in the country and to his inability to choose exiled life.

Indeed, if he speaks out against the regime in power, there is a possibility that his business and life will not be the same again in Ethiopia as far as the regime in power is there; he could even forget about it.

Other opposition activists have a different take. Kenenisa is renowned the world over and he could have used his reputation and fame towards the effort to bring the deteriorating condition in Ethiopia and killings of civilians to the attention of the international community. And it is same for him, they think, to do so by virtue of his international fame.

Kenenisa was not included in team Ethiopia during the Rio Olympic and he was very vocal to express his disappointment over decision of Ethiopian Athletics Federation.

Meanwhile, Ethiopians dominated women marathon in Berlin and claimed a prestigious positions of the event. Aberu kebede finished the distance first in 2:20:45 hours. Birhane Dibaba and Ruti Aga finished second and third in a time of 2:23:58 and 2:24:42 respectively.

Written by Dimetros Birku. Could be reached on twitter : @dimetros

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