Why Mohammed Ali Visited Kenya

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(Last Updated On: June 6, 2016)

There is a picture going round showing a picture of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and former President Moi together. Ali visited Kenya in February, 1980.

The prime purpose of his visit was to convince Kenya and other African states to boycott the 1980 Olympics in Moscow after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

Former President Daniel Arap Moi and Mohammed Ali at State House.
Former President Daniel Arap Moi and Mohammed Ali at State House.

The United States had – under the leadership of President Jimmy Carter – decided to boycott the Moscow games.

Carter, in a bid to have several states on board condemning the Soviet Union’s actions, chose Muhammad Ali to go on a five-nation tour to convince African leaders to boycott the Moscow Olympics.

Ali was against the Soviet Union’s actions in Afghanistan and he was a well-known figure in Africa, so for Carter this move was strategic and smart.

The five African states that Ali would visit were Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Liberia, and Senegal.

The US government was at the time more concerned about this invasion than they were with the apartheid regime in South Africa, says writer Wilhelm Gidabuday.

The general consensus on this decision seemed to be that this was a bad diplomatic move by the American President.

In the end, Kenya did not participate in the Moscow Olympics and Liberia supported the boycott until the assassination of President William Tolbert.

While in Kenya, Ali called on the country’s second President Daniel Moi. The former world heavyweight boxing champion was hosted at State House, Nairobi.

Ali also met veteran Kenyan politician Kenneth Matiba, then Minister for Culture and Social Services.

In Senegal, Muhammad Ali was also warmly welcomed by Léopold Senghor. Senegal had a policy of keeping sports separate from politics, and they had participated in the 1976 Olympics that many other African countries had boycotted.

Muhammad Ali passed on Saturday, June 4th after suffering respiratory complications.

Courtesy of edaily.

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