ALL AFRICA GAMES: Algerians present spectacular opening ceremony

View of the opening ceremony of the 9th All Africa Games in the stadium of Algiers in Algeria on Wednesday.

Algeria shrugged off teething organisational problems to present a spectacular opening ceremony at the Fifth July Stadium on Wednesday night. 

View of the opening ceremony of the 9th All Africa Games in the stadium of Algiers in Algeria on Wednesday. The All Africa Games take place until July 23. Photos/REUTERS

Algeria Head of Government Abdelaziz Belkhadem, on behalf of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, officially opened the Games after the 52 participating teams had paraded through the stadium. 

A choreographed performance by 850 girls and a stunning display of colours symbolising peace, reconciliation, and brotherhood among African people on a windy Algiers night was the highlight of the ceremony. 

A capacity crowd of cheering Algerian fans in the 64,000 seater stadium almost rivalled the stunning fireworks display in decibels recorded as the country finally welcomed the Ninth All Africa Games. 

African lightflyweight champion Suleiman Bilali led the Kenya contingent into the stadium, carrying the national flag in the absence of overall team captain Ezra Sambu. 

Sports minister Maina Kamanda, who arrived in Algiers on the same day together with his permanent secretary, Commissioner for Sports Gordon Oluoch and Kenya National Sports Council chairman Okuthe, attended the opening ceremony. 

Kamanda had earlier in the day attended a meeting of all the Sports Ministers of Africa and was later scheduled to pay a visit to the Kenya team. 

At the same time, Egypt beat Algeria 2-1 in a Group “B” men’s football encounter in Blida on Wednesday.

Kenyan athletes keenly awaited

There is no doubt the All Africa Games is a multidisciplinary sport affair. There is also no doubt that athletics is the highlight of the games. Thus it is not surprising that the arrival of the Kenya athletic team is keenly awaited by many. 

Several journalists from Uganda, the BBC, China just to mention a few have been inquiring when the team is coming and who is in the team. “Is Kenya going to bring a strong team,” a Chinese reporter asked, perhaps looking at her story angles for the 2008 Olympic Games that will be hosted by Beijing. Others may just want to know who will beat their athletes on the track.