Alie Komape of BDS-SA says he was overwhelmed by the support and wants to be back next year – and better his time, writes an Al Qalam Reporter
For 28-year-old Alie Komape (28) of Johannesburg, running his first Comrades Marathon last weekend, especially in the name of the Palestinian oppressed, was one of the “greatest moments of my life”.
Explaining to Al Qalam why he ran in the name of Palestine, Alie said: “I joined the Marathon this year inspired by the many runners before me and in my generation, who run for the Palestinian cause. Palestinians constitute the largest refugee population in the world after the violent expulsion from their homeland in 1948 when the Apartheid State of Israel was established. They cannot return to their homes and those who refuse to leave are victims of gross human rights violations in concerted efforts to expel them and make way for Israeli settlers. As a Black South African, this is painful. In many ways, Israeli practices Apartheid like South Africa and many South Africans who have visited Palestine including our anti-apartheid icons testify that Israel is far much worse than Apartheid in South Africa.”
Alie, who works at Boycott, Divestment jand Sanctions Movement of South Africa (BDS), said he’s sore legs after the marathon could never compare with the many in Palestine who have lost limbs after being shot by Zionist forces.
Seeing so many supporters carrying Palestine banners and waving flags was overwhelming – and it definitely put a spring in his step.
“At about 83km with 4km left, my body was slowly shutting down and I could feel the pain in my feet and calves. Right at that moment, I saw the group with Palestine support banners and flags. And suddenly I saw one comrade running towards me to give me the flag. He ran a few meters with me. The feeling was unexplainable….the love and appreciation are immeasurable.” he added.
He finished at 8 Hours, 45 minutes and 43 seconds, an impressive time for a first-time runner, especially that this was “up run” from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.
“Personally, it is an achievement I will hold dearly in my heart and I will narrate to my kids and grandkids how I successfully ran the ultimate human race in a time of 8 hours and 45 minutes – there are many others who ran in better times than me, but for my first time I am pleased with my performance.
“What is more important and perhaps bigger than my own personal achievements, is the growth and strength of the Palestine solidarity and BDS movement in South Africa. Before I went to the race hundreds of messages of support filled the BDS South Africa social media and email inboxes. The morning of the race activists in Durban were showing support with their placards and flags and the in the afternoon I met them close to the finish line. I was overwhelmed by the support of the people of Durban and KZN who came out in solidarity”.
Asked whether he was ever harassed by anyone whilst carrying the Palestine flag, Alie said he faced not an iota of hate. “In fact “I received compliments from supporters and fellow runners alike,” he said.
“Today we can successfully state that we are rapidly taking the Palestinian cause for freedom from Israeli Apartheid away from academics and religion and, taking it to dinner tables, social conversations and sporting activities. It is this commitment from all of us in our different sectors that reinforces hope and resilience for Palestinians to keep resisting Israeli Apartheid towards total emancipation.
He said BDS is now raising funds to support participants in future Palestine sporting events.
“We have established a BDS Sports Network and encourage all sports people, at any level to join in. Whether it is running, swimming, cycling, soccer, cricket, netball, hockey or any sporting code. Let us actively raise the Palestinian flag and bring the Palestinian cause to our people’s attention. Any contributions would be appreciated,” he said.