19 August 2013, 12:15

Kenya naked runners are seeking state recognition


Night-running - a traditional activity involving feats of naked athletic prowess - is practised by 2.6 million Kenyans and should be recognised as a sport, it's claimed.

Jack Songo, the president of Night Runners Organisation, recently shocked many by his demands that the government recognises night-running as a sporting activity.

Songo says the government should recognise night-running under the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Art.

“It is unfortunate that we have been discriminated against for a long time yet we do not harm anybody. It is important for the government to categorise our pastime as a sporting activity,” Songo says.

“It is unfortunate that we have been discriminated against for a long time yet we do not harm anybody”

He adds that part of the funds set aside for the Hassan Wario-led ministry should be channeled to the night-runners associations.

The nocturnal practice of running around communities is carried out across Africa's Lake Victoria region. Closely associated with witchcraft, it sometimes involves running with tamed wild animals for security.

Families who engage in it are often both shunned and revered by their communities for their supposed magical powers but many accuse night-runners of practical jokes and house-breaking.

However, Jack Songo, who says he's president of the Night Runners Organisation, told Kenya's Star newspaper that being categorised and funded as a sport would allow it to host proper competitions.

The paper quotes Songo as saying they'll even wear clothes if it helps. Critics reportedly say participants scare people by prowling around houses, interfering with their sleep and contradicting biblical teachings. Opponents also rubbish claims that the presence of night-runners in communities reduces crime, saying that if they want to run with other athletes, they should do so in daylight, wearing clothes.

Voice of Russia, BBC, the-star.co.ke

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