“Olympic athletes reported missing” … “Missing Cameroonian athletes may be looking for greener pastures”… “Officials ask for help finding 7 olympic athletes missing”…"La disparition des athletes camerounais, une trahison”…
I tried to avoid this post because I didn’t want to partake in what I think is just some useless frenzy; I wanted to stick to my usual “save the poached elephants” posts, but after almost two weeks of continuous news media harassment, my fingers refuse to stay idle. I know you have heard, laughed, empathized, criticized, or even written about it. There is a spike in creativity for making jokes about this situation: “they didn’t flee, they were kidnapped”; “no, the eighth one just went to fetch the seven others”; “Cameroon, golden medal for desertion”…Mouah haha!
Since the story broke, some people hitherto unsuspected oratorical skills emerged. In taxis, sport clubs, on social media platforms;,online magazines and newspapers……everyone talked / is talking about it, from people who ‘know’ Cameroonians to people who can’t even tell in which continent Cameroon is located. If you missed it, it may be that you are locked out from the rest of the world on a 24/7 basis, completely cut from the rest of us, or it may just be that you are living in another dimension.
I won’t elaborate on what official reports said. I just want to express my amazement when I notice how quickly many people jumped to conclusions, sharing their thinking with the rest of the world and aiming a negative light beam to add a country’s already tarnished reputation. Still, it is a country which I am proud to be from, a country full of sports talents, a country with its problems just like any other country in the world, a country with athletes who, despite the situation created by their alleged fleeing, should still be given the benefit of the doubt, considering the principle of presumption of innocence and the fact that their visas are valid until November.
Though I will concede that the Olympic village was build specifically to house athletes, it is not, to my knowledge, some kind of prison from which no athlete must ‘escape’. Any person who did a little bit of competition, regardless of the level, can understand that the last thing one wants to do after being eliminated, is to stay and watch other people compete in the following rounds. Yes, I agree that they went there as a group and were supposed to return together in case of defeat. But for them, what would the advantage of being part of the national Olympic selection be, especially for those that may not get another opportunity in during their career to represent Cameroon internationally? I, personally, can’t blame them for wanting to indulge their curiosity, to get a good taste of a big city like London, which is different from anything they know in Cameroon in so many ways.
The thing is, their story got so big that even if they didn’t have in mind to run away, their identities have been revealed and their reputation effectively ruined. Their mug shots, similar to those of vulgar criminals have taken the Internet by storm. It is hard to see at this point how they could get that shot at living better lives in “greener pastures” if they still choose to remain illegally in the United Kingdom, or elsewhere in the European Union. The Cameroonian Authorities have already requested the help of British Immigration Authorities to repatriate them and I think it’s pretty safe to say that none of them would ever be able to obtain permanent resident status; but even worse, I think their athletic careers are definitely over, and this gives them an incentive to try and remain in Europe at all costs, with a very hard life in perspective for them.
I can’t blame the rest of the world for laughing at them, or suggesting reasons for desertion, but I can’t take it when our people (Cameroonians) idiotically join the ‘fun’. Cameroonians hold the Gold medal for ridiculing, for judging and making fun of people; but the truth is, in a case like this one, engaging in such behavior is very destructive.
If indeed, those athletes fled, the confirmation will come soon enough. November is not that far, people. I just hope some of them will choose to go back home in the end, but if they don’t, may be we should try and see that act of ‘desertion’ for what it is: the cry of distress of young people whose conception of happiness is a life away from home. And to those among my fellow citizens who spend their time criticizing our athletes’ performances, by all means, next time, just replace them and show us some ‘real’ accomplishments.
Just heard that the 5 boxers sought asylum. "Info ou Intox" ? O_o We’ll see
From Pretoria To The World,
Let’s keep moving!
CAM do not own copyright to any to the photographs featured in this post