The infamous German dictator Adolf Hitler once tried to use the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games to brand his country and prove his twisted theory of racial superiority to the world which unfortunately enough was debunked right in front of his own eyes by the great African American Sprinter Jesse Owens.
Through time we have seen superpowers battle it out in sporting arenas around the world to create an image of themselves and their countries as the greatest nations on earth.
Sports is one, if not the greatest social mobilization tool out there whose power some are yet to comprehend and appreciate. It has been used to bring people together and lift their spirits during trying times, as well as entertain and inspire them.
The impact athletes and sports has on the psyche of mankind is immense. In an effort to brand one’s national image through sporting excellence one can also inadvertently achieve a variety of critical goals that range from inspiring a sense of ‘Patriotism’ to a ‘Commitment to individual excellence by citizens’ at whatever they do within their communities to say the least.
Sierra Leone is in need of not just an external image repair and rebranding after years of civil war in the 1990’s and a couple of health pandemics in recent years, enough to ward away visitors and potential Investors but also an internal retooling of hearts and minds of its citizenry to a commitment to individual development and growth as well as a sense of purpose to nation through uncompromised patriotism.
Sierra Leone is experiencing a renaissance of sorts in sports as we see a rise of sports stars at home and in the Diaspora who will be fixtures and names to be contended with on the global stage. This bodes well for the country and the government to come after next year’s (2018) elections which will be tasked to continue the trajectory of development started by the Tejan-Kabbah and Ernest Bai Koroma administrations after those dark years of war in the 90’s and recent health pandemics.
There are some global and continental sporting events in the offing where the drive towards creating a new Sierra Leone that rose from its own ashes should be targeted and embraced and utilized in the effort at a global rebranding as well as an internal renewal and revival of the nation from within by the citizens.
- 2018 Commonwealth Games (Gold Coast, Australia)
- 2019 African Cup of Nations (Cameroon)
- 2019 All Africa Games (Equatorial Guinea)
- 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships (Doha, Qatar)
- 2020 Olympic Games (Tokyo, Japan)
- 2022 FIFA World Cup in (Qatar)
A global rebranding effort and a renewal of commitment to personal excellence and uncompromised patriotism by the citizenry of the nation cannot be a one team approach; meaning, just because sports is the vehicle being used to achieve this goal does not mean that only the Sports Ministry and associated sporting bodies will be involved in such an effort. The Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Information, and Tourism should all have contributing personnel in this effort alongside NGO’s and committed citizens who see this as a calling and can volunteer their time and energy towards it.
By Leslie Koroma Sr.