Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Harambe and Running with the Kenyans

Just finished Running with the Kenyans by A. Finn. An inspiring account of a runner who took his family to Kenya to discover the secret of why the Kenyans have been the most successful people group in the world for long distance running.

One of the secrets is germane to Kenyan culture. It's referred to as harambe. It means "working together." When a Kenyan wins a race it is not only the result of many years of personal training and discipline but also of strong family and community support. There are no recreational runners in Kenya! A Kenyan runner makes it his occupation. And so his only means of support comes from his community. And when he wins, he shares his prize money back to his community. The whole community shares in the joys of success. ( see the Chalmers blog for this in practice in the lives of the students of Pwani Bible College).

This idea is alien to our self-absorbed western culture, where we glorify the successful for their personal skills and possessions. I believe the result of this is a pervasive sense of pride in those who "win"and shame in those who "lose." Consequently resulting in an overall sense of isolation and loneliness.

Followers of Jesus should be the leaders in harambe. The community of faith operates by the principle of "unity amidst diversity." God has made us different and yet we are all equally important to the calling of
Glorifying Christ. To this end the writers if Scripture included many imperatives around the idea of "one another." "Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves." (Romans 12:10). "Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt of love." (Romans 13:8). All of these are inspired by the teaching and example of Jesus himself, "As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34-35). He demonstrated his love by expending himself for the good of others.

I can't help imagining what a powerful change that would bring about in our culture and world if all followers of Jesus lived by the rule of harambe. May it begin with me and you!

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