By Tedla Asfaw
Following the passing away of the legendary Ethiopian runner Mirut Yefter/Shifter last week past interviews and footage of Mirut glorious victories are posted on social medias. Out of all these interviews Mirut interview by Alebachew Desalegn during the London Olympics in 2012 is worth following. .
The current Ethnic Politics/Gosegnent has become an obstacle in training because there is no common language of instruction according to the interview Mirut gave. Major/Shaleqa Mirut insisted that unless we implement the national language Amharic for instruction and communication purpose Ethiopian athletics future is in big danger.
Hearing this from a legendary Yefter the “Shifter” who was born in Zalambasa, Adigrat trained in Eritrea finally end up in Debre Zeit should not be seen in Ethnic Prism. Mirut Yefter is an Ethiopian who loved and appreciate what the people of Ethiopia did to him and other athletes.
Ethiopian heroes like the late Abebe Biklila and Mamo Wolde are heroes that unified Ethiopians from different ethnic backgrounds. The songs following their victories are classic and Ethiopian.
“The Green Flood”, Mirut Yefter, Mohammed Keder, Toloso Kotu and others dominated the 1970s and 80s until the rise of Haile, Kenenisa, Deraretu, Fatuma, Tirunesh, Meseret to the present Almaz and the Dibabas etc.
All these athletes are known to the world representing Ethiopia and many foreign journalists visited Arsi and Addis Ababa to see the birth and training place of our runners. Yes indeed as Mirut said on his interview many of our athletes started running as a child to school or used by parents to bring in or send a message to neighbors. Running is part of Ethiopian life !!!!
Mirut was inspired by Abebe Bikila and Mamo Wolde. In fact on his interview he met Abebe Bikila at Asmara on their way to the 1968 Olympics. Abebe Bikila seeing the young Mirut performance recommend him to join the Air Force team. He sent him with a note to the Air Force.
All these communication happens through Amharic an Ethiopian national language. Mirut himself a Tigrean and Abebe an Oromo were proud of communicating with each other in Amharic as Ethiopian.
I personally witnessed a problem in Boston Marathon few years ago. Ethiopian won the marathon and when he came to be interviewed by the journalist as always Ethiopians stay away from English as a pride or being less fluent in it.
The athletics representative translated the English to Afan Oromo. This was not by accident. Most likely the athlete and the representative do not know Amharic the Official language of Ethiopia. Mirut might have seen such problem earlier and that is the reason he gave the warning. Without common language no team work to bring Victory !!!! All our glorious victories in Olympics were made possible by a team work.
The national language of Ethiopia is Amharic and we need to use this to unify our athletes like the Abebe Bikilas and The Mirut Yefters generation did to pass the torch to the next.
It is very sad to see the end of our heroes like Mamo Wolde and Mirut Yefter without getting the respect they deserve after accomplishing and putting our country on a world stage. I want to extend my condolence to his family and to the Ethiopian people.
However, the warning by the late Shaleqa Mirut Yefter should not be seen lightly. The running and training language of Ethiopian Athletics Must Be Amharic !!!!!