Bahrain won its first ever gold this week when 19-year-old Ruth Jebet won the steeplechase. Which, of course, means an Olympic crowd got to hear Bahrain’s anthem for the first time too. Hurrah!
That tune is perhaps the best example of the Arab fanfare style of anthem you could wish to stumble across. It’s jolly. It’s quick. And it’s so short it’s over before it begun. Although that length does mean the only thing people are actually likely to remember about it is its name – the Bahrainona! – and that’s largely because it sounds like a wrestler’s.
But should it have actually been played? Jebet was born in Kenya, and has been a Bahrain national for just three years. The emirate, presumably, offered her a shedload of cash to change nationality.
On one level, it’s hard to argue with her choice. Jebet’s said the reason she made the move is this: “There are so many athletes in Kenya. In Bahrain I get the chance to go to school.” But, well, it leaves me uneasy. And if it does you too, I suggest you join me in listening to Kenya’s anthem right this minute as the poorest form of protest imaginable!
Kenya’s anthem’s called O God of All Creation – Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu in Swahili – and it’s that rarest of national anthems: one that actually sounds like the place it comes from rather than a British hymn.
It’s beautiful too and sticks far longer in the memory than any part of the, er…. What was Bahrain’s anthem called again?