In ancient times, Rwanda was graced with several talented high jumpers and they were great at what they did. Today we hardly hear of high-Jump as a sport in Rwanda. Claims are that its glory days ended after 1959 when our forefathers were forced into exile.
During one of my tour days at the Historical Arts Museum in Rukali, I was mesmerized when I saw a photo of a High-Jump competition held in the presence of King Mutara III Rudahigwa.
When I asked Umulisa the tour guide, to explain more about the photo, she said that High- Jump was the most practiced traditional sport in Rwanda and in fact, the participants in the sport were considered one of the best in the world.
That was when I realised that I had never heard about any competitions on High- jump in Rwanda besides watching it on Televisions during the IAAF or Olympic competitions with performances from other countries.
Therefore, we need to revive and promote traditional sports and games by looking through the widow of the past and hence embrace our heritage since it runs in our genes.
One of the ways through which traditional sports and games can be promoted is if they are introduced in schools and given the same attention like football, basketball, volleyball and other encouraged sports and games.
Besides God given talents, some sports and games need to be practiced at a tender age just because of the technicalities involved. For example, in order to become a great high-jumper, someone must have started training in the sport at a tender age.
According to Emmanuel Bugingo, Director of Sports at the Ministry of Sports and Culture, there are several challenges that hinder the promotion of traditional sports.
“The outgoing Federation of Athletics had put more emphasis on certain sports and abandoned others. Additionally, there was the challenge of limited effort in talent identification. Most of these challenges where as a result of not having a progressive plan as required in the discipline of sports,” Bugingo expresses.
He further said that the new committee, which will be elected this month, will have to revive all the sports and games. As it is the mandate of the Rwanda Athletics Federation to detect and promote sports and games.