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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sometimes, defeat can be as "sweet" as victory

BY CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO

Our times have verily changed, and now seem divided into BO (Before Obama) and AO (After Obama).

In BO, it seemed very few people cared for little else than the progress that Senator Barack Obama was making in his bid to become the first African-American president of the USA. Now that this chip off Kenyan genes made history and won, and anxieties about his prospects have died down, we are able to return to matters that we neglected in BO.

Obama made the record books with victory but, often, history is also made in defeat. And it’s in loss, that British boxer Peter Buckley found his fame. On the evening of October 31, Mr Buckley had the 300th fight of his career and hang up his gloves. Mr Buckley, said The Times, is considered to be Britain’s most spectacular sporting loser. Buckley has lost more fights than any other boxer in the world. Of his 300 fights, the super-featherweight has endured 256 defeats, just 32 wins and 12 draws. Throughout, The Times wrote, “He has remained magnificently undeterred. While the British Board of Control remained desperately concerned that he would do himself a lasting injury, Buckley persisted, losing bout after bout.” He almost ruined his record. He won his last fight – his first since 2003.

Staying with sport, British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton also set a record in Brazil by becoming, at 23, the youngest world champion in the sport. And another too; he is the first Black man to drive in F1, and therefore the first person of colour to be F1 champion.

It was unforgettable! Hamilton needed to finish just fifth to clinch victory. He was beaten into sixth with three laps to go. When the Brazilian Felipe Massa crossed the line first, it seemed Hamilton had missed the prize. Massa’s Ferrari team even went into a victory-hugging frenzy. But in a rain-soaked race, with 1,000 metres and no more than 10 seconds to go to the finish line, Hamilton made one of the most gutsy moves seen in the sport for years, and glory was his. I couldn’t watch the last three minutes. I fled the TV room, was out of breath and trembling uncontrollably. I crawled back to watch the dying seconds, and got there just as Hamilton snatched back fifth. My heart was beating out of my chest. Then the phone started ringing. All the callers were friends who had spent the season feeling Hamilton’s every pain and relishing his victories, panting at the other end of the line. Next year, I am not watching Formula One. I fear I might die of a heart attack.


The future belongs to Hamilton, Obama, and fellows like supreme golfer Tiger Woods, for reasons other than their talents.


I felt Hamilton’s win was a good omen for Obama. Now, it turns out that the future belongs to Hamilton, Obama, and fellows like supreme golfer Tiger Woods, for reasons other than their talents.Writing in the Sunday Times, a leading British geneticist, Steve Jones, a professor at University College, London, says that the world’s population is blending into a single shade. As more and more people move as the world opens up, the number of its multiracial population is growing dramatically. Most countries, Prof Jones writes, have “opened up their genetic pools”. Thus your great grandfather married the girl from his village; your grandfather married the girl from the next village; you married the girl from the next district; and your daughter is more likely to marry a young lad from another country.

In the 18th century, there were 10,000 black people in Britain. Today, the proportion of Britons who claim full or partial descent from Africa has gone up 20 times! “History has always been made in bed,” Jones writes, “but the beds are closer together. As a result, the human race is in the midst of a great averaging; and the future, more than likely, is brown”. The good professor argues that all genetics “are firm believers in the healing power of lust; in the ability of desire to overcome social and geographic barriers”.

So, to him, Obama’s rise might be important for several political reasons, but “to biologists, though, he is living proof that the future is almost here; a future that will look more or less like him”. The men of science also, finally, found evidence that men are not as clueless as the harsher womenfolk sometimes portray them to be.

According to The Independent, research at the Commonwealth University in Richmond, USA, has found that men are better at detecting infidelity than women – although they spoil it by tending to suspect their female partners even when they are faithful, the study found. The scientists found that women made correct inferences about their partners’ cheating about 80 per cent of the time. Impressive?

Yes, until you learn that men scored much better – they were right about 94 per cent of the times. Nothing is ever that straightforward, though. The study found that whereas men are better at detecting infidelity, women are much better at concealing it. Our God does, indeed. work in mysterious ways!

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