The youngest country in the world
Few days ago i tried to write a story about the Olympics.
I keep talking about that topic, but somehow this time is different. This story comes straight from my daily diary, and it's something that really happen to me during the Olympic marathon. it's my best souvenir from my weeks in London. I decided to share it with you, I hope you will like it.
Sunday, august 12, 2012
Today it has been a very special day.
Today I've been to the men marathon. I agreed with my mates to meet under the big ben, but I woke up too late, and when I got there I couldn't be able to find them among the crowd, so I waited alone to see the runners. Well, actually I was anything but alone, the street was lined with thousands of people. It was a path of about 10 Km, so they had to do four laps to complete the race.
First lap. A lot of runners coming towards me in a big group, I looked them run past, they were so skinned, lightweight, everyone carried a number, a name, and colors of his country. Some of those countries reminded me of very sad stories, countries that I only know because of wars, or famine, or big tragedy such as genocide. Ruanda, for example. I imagined that it was like they were running despite everything, they were running to earn a better life for them, and their country. Looking at them, I already felt touched and tears clouded my eyes.
Second lap. Best runners were already ahead of the competition, most of them were from Kenya. The last three runners were from three small countries: one from Andorra, that is a very little country between spain and france, one from Liechtenstein (a tiny principality between Switzerland and Austria) and the last one from Timor Est, another country which reminded me of people full of suffering, so I loved that last runner of the race and I got excited once more.
Before those three last guys, in the middle of the group, there was this boy, Marial, with a very dark skin and no name of country on his breastplate. There was just a name, Marial, that occurred to me to think that he could have been from South Sudan.
All I know about The Republic of South Sudan, apart from what I learned from the tv news, comes from a book from David Eggers, whose title is What is the what, a book that I recommend to everyone. It's about the fearful journey of thousands of kids, without any adult, from Sudan to Ethiopia, trying to get away from a country wrecked and ravaged by the war that the north of Sudan moved to the south part of the country. During the war, more than 2.5 milion people have been killed, and 5 milions people have become displaced in other countries, becoming refugees.
South Sudan declared independency in 2011, as a result of a referendum, with 99% of the population voting for independence. It's the youngest country in the world, and the poorest.
Waiting for the next lap, I checked on my phone, and I found out that the Marial boy was actually a South Sudanese runner, named Guor Marial that had twentyeight members of his family killed during the conflict. He now lives in the USA but with no US citizenship, that's why he couldn't run under the USA flag. He couldn't neither run as a south Sudanese athlete, because South Sudan is not a member of the Olympic committee yet, so he was given the possibility to compete under the Olympic flag, without representing any country. Reading these news, left me even more quavery than before
From that moment on, I standed for that boy, Guor Marial, I standed for South Sudan in the Olympic marathon. I thought I probably was the only one.
Last lap: I looked the athletes running for medals passing by, the I looked for Guor Marial passage, and I finally waited till the passage of the last athlete (the very last was the boy from Timor Est, I waited forty minutes just for him).
After that I left and I was on my way towards home, wondering about which lesson I could draw from that experience, while I run into a group of beautiful, colorful women that were singing and dancing waving flags I never saw.
I asked them which country they were from, and they told me they were celebrating the first south Sudanese athlete at the Olympic games. They were singing and dancing to celebrate their country, the South Sudan, the youngest country in the world. They waved their flags, they wore t-shirts saying Let us built our country, let us build South Sudan, they were really joyful.
I walked beside them for a while, staring at them, but that was too much to bear for me.
I really started to cry, seeing their happiness, thinking about how much pain every woman I was looking at had probably suffered, thinking about the fact there was only one man among them, I cried so much that they began to come to me to ask me why I was so upset, and when I told them the reason. When I told them I just was too happy for them all, they told me not to cry anymore, because, they said, "we already cried enough".
That obviously didn't prevent me from crying again, and eventually I had to get away from them, from their hugs and eyes, because I felt that otherwise I couldn't have stopped shedding tears like a child.
Long live the Olympics,
And Long live South Sudan, the world's youngest country!