HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsSound character takes you places

Sound character takes you places


Some people’s contributions stand to make an impact in the world long after they are gone.

One man made headlines as a sportsperson in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, not because he had won any medals, but through displaying a certain character that is lacking in the statesman of this day.

The manner of doing things that was displayed is not found in the men and women of God of this generation.

Most business practitioners lack the character that is in line with their positions.

Even the social reformers are found wanting on this aspect.

Probably, this explains why Jackson Brown said the following words: “Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are, to some extent, a gift.

Good character, by contrast, is not given to us.

We have to build it, piece by piece, by thought, choice, courage, and determination.” Most people are endowed with exceptional aptitude, but they lack the character that keeps them in the high places.

John Stephen Akwari was sent by his country Tanzania to represent it in the marathon in Mexico.

This is a man who was determined and committed to win like other contestants. Unfortunately, Akwari fell during the race.

He cut his knee, bled profusely and his joint was dislocated.

Under such circumstances, the most logical thing to do is quit the race and anticipate competing in future competitions.

To Akwari, however, the most logical thing is not always the ideal thing to engage in.

He felt that it was necessary to become a true ambassador of his country.

Rather than giving up on the race, Akwari continued running, limping though. Of the 74 participants who started the race, 16 never finished for various reasons.

Akwari was determined to finish what he had started.

He never wanted to be counted among those who started the race but never finished.

He finished last among the 57 who got to the finishing line.

At the end of it all, Akwari caught the limelight and attention of the people who were still in the stadium when he arrived almost an hour after everyone else had passed the finish line.

Most of the participants never got the attention that Akwari got as everyone wanted to know the driving force of this Tanzanian.

When asked why he continued running considering that he was far behind everyone else and the race had finished an hour earlier, this is what Akwari said:

“My country did not send me 5 000 miles to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me 5 000 miles to finish the race.”

To what extent are you prepared and committed to finishing what you would have started?

Most people get so discouraged because of the obstacles that present themselves along the way and they lack the character and guts to do those things that will give them recognition through their commitment to do those things that are worthwhile.

Obviously, one would wonder what was the benefit of continuing the race on Akwari’s part.

The competition won him the title of “a King without a crown”.

He became the talking point, not necessarily because he got the crown, but because of the soundness of character that he displayed.

To him, it was more important to execute until the finish line.

Afterwards, Akwari competed for 10 years after the 1968 Olympics.

He finished fifth in the marathon at the 1970 Commonwealth games.

His recognition, however, still stands of what a man of sound character can achieve not only for themselves, but for the greater good of the world.

The inspiration that goes with his decision stands as an example to many.

In whatever area of endeavour that you find yourself in, always strive towards finishing your game.

It may be so difficult to do that because of circumstances but someone can probably be impacted by that decision to execute in the ideal manner.

Akwari was not worried about the fact that there was no prize money that was going to come his way.

The most important thing to him was the finishing as that is exactly what he had been sent all the way to Mexico do.

No one dared compile a list of the 15 who never finished the race.

The man who came limping into the stadium with a bloodied leg got the attention of the world.

In his country, Akwari got a hero’s welcome, was greatly recognised for his character and commitment to the extent that his name was given to an organisation which supports Tanzanian athletes training for Olympic Games.

This man never lifted the medal, but his contribution was recognised and greatly appreciated as sound inspiration that would keep others going.

As if that was not enough, Akwari was further invited to grace the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

One would wonder the reasoning behind inviting someone who had lost the race, especially as the very last person.

What was being recognised was the strength of character more than anything else.

The rest of the people who came earlier than him never got the attention that this master athlete got.

In life, character is one virtue that stands to win you friends in quarters you may never have thought of beforehand.

Akwari appeared in Beijing as a goodwill ambassador in preparation for the 2008 games.

His act of great bravery and courage opened a whole world to him and he found himself standing alongside some of the greatest personalities in sport.

He became such an ambassador because he knew what he was called upon to execute in the world.

If you know what you are supposed to do and give your best to it, you stand to have the command of the world.

I believe you have the ideal soundness to be counted as a contributor to the human spirit by whatever means you have at your disposal.

Some actions may appear so small, but the spirit ingrained within it can go a long way in adding value to civilisation.

Once again, let’s make a date to meet at the top, having given all we have to finish the game we would have started, through displaying a sound character that opens the pathways to destiny.

I know you are capable of doing that.

Noah Mangwarara is a Motivational Speaker & Leadership Expert. Contact Noah on 0775 952 634/ nmangwarara@gmail.com

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading