In Ashutosh Gowarikar’s 2003 film Swades, Shah Rukh Khan’s character Mohan is a Nasa engineer who, on a vacation to India, sets up a power generating mechanism in rural Uttar Pradesh and ensures that the village gets electricity. The film, often considered one of Shah Rukh Khan’s best ever work, was lauded for drawing attention towards the condition of India’s villages, many of which are still without essential services in the 21st century.
That script has found resonance in Africa as well, with a Kenyan athlete returning home from the Rio Olympics 2016 and ensuring the village of Ndabibit received electricity for the first time ever.
The athlete, Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon, won a gold medal in women’s 1,500 metres in Rio, and according to the Daily Nation, a Kenyan news website, she hails from the village of Ndabibit, which hasn’t had electricity since 1980, when residents first settled there.
But while Kipyegon was away in Brazil, her father Samuel Koech lamented how the village was still unable to watch her feats on live television. “I urge President Uhuru Kenyatta to make sure our village is connected to electricity so that I can see my daughter Faith running and winning medals for Kenya,” Koech said.
Moved by a father’s lament and a village’s inability to watch its brightest star, Kenyan authorities answered his pleas almost instantly. Within one day of Koech’s plea making national news, officials were on the ground, dropping power line poles. Within a week, Ndabibit village had electricity and jubilant locals were able to enjoy watching Faith’s feats on television.
“I only thank God for giving me such a wonderful daughter who has transformed our village and I pray to God to give her strength and good health so that she can win more medals for Kenya,” Koech told the newspaper.
But his fortunes aren’t ending any time soon. His younger daughter and Faith’s sister, ironically named Samsung, has assured her father that she will buy him a new flat-screen TV on which he can enjoy Faith’s future races in a better manner.