Sunday, November, 11th, 2018 Gulu successfully held its MTN Marathon.
MTN Uganda has set Sunday 25th November 2018 as the date for the 15th Edition of the MTN Kampala Marathon.
Unlike the previous years where a single marathon was held annually, this year, as the leading telecom marks its 20th anniversary, 3 regional runs have been organized on 3 different weekends before the main one in Kampala.
The regional runs will be held in Mbale, Gulu and Mbarara.
The Marathon is a social responsibility initiative of the MTN Foundation in partnership with Huawei, New Vision, Stanbic Bank and Rwenzori Mineral Water as well as logistics company Spedag Interfreight Uganda limited.
The Mbale race will feature a 10km road race and a 21km half marathon. However, the Gulu featured a 5km and 10 km road race.
The theme for this year’s Marathon is improving maternal health in Uganda. This is through ensuring safe childbirth for expectant mothers regardless of their means or origin.
In Gulu’s MTN Marathon 2018, something that looks mild but stood out for me in comparison to maternal health is the element of Negligence.
While this looks perceptual errors but this is becoming a common marketing challenge for advertising companies based in Kampala that come to Gulu.
Failure to attend to the details that matter to the overall objective of the marketing drive to make the locals own up to their products.
It’s either the use of Luganda in promotions to a non Luganda speaking community to having a Kampala identity on products meant for Northern Uganda or Gulu precisely.
The Daily Monitor in its editorial piece in January 9th 2014 writing on; too many maternal deaths from negligence opined that, “Deaths of expectant mothers resulting from the suspected negligence of medical staff is becoming a rather too frequent occurrence.”
The editorial further notes; as a country, we already have one of the highest maternal mortality rates (MMR) in the world which Unicef estimates at 435 women dying annually from pregnancy or child-bearing complications.
In this year’s Gulu MTN Marathon, the attire (Vests) were majorly of small size and a few medium scale sizes especially for a community that prides itself as Elephants.
This meant not many participants were able to pay for the attire which could have supported more mothers and many more participants could have benefited from maternal health messages.
On Facebook, a disappointed participant described the tops as bras than vests for the marathon.
Many participants had to use their own attire which made it lose its uniformity for great photogenic moment to illustrate Gulu’s support for maternal health like any other regional district.
In essence, Gulu lost a photogenic opportunity with a big company to showcase the new post war northern Uganda with great passion and love to support maternal health of our mothers as a result of low turn up.
The caps were clearly marked “MTN Kampala Marathon 2018”. Why would one not think of MTN Gulu Marathon 2018? Fortunately, Gulu’s Brand Ambassador Hon. Norbert Mao was captured in White and not the MTN Colours.
It would have been counterproductive for Gulu’s brand to have its brand Ambassador donning on a cap inscribed Kampala MTN Marathon in a Gulu MTN Marathon.
Organizationally, MTN can do better to get more organized to avoid last minute maneuvers and preparations. For instance, the community kept waiting for what the routes will be till the last moments.
Also, the flag off according to MTN organizers was meant to be in Pece Stadium but it ended up along Jomo Kenyatta Street adjacent to a Church with ongoing service. This was such a disruption for the Anglicans at Christ Church.
I suggest if MTN will next year have Gulu MTN Marathon, they should localize the regional organizing committee to ensure a sense of ownership and better participation.
The local organizers will connect better with most of the formal and informal groups already into local athletic bodies or civil society members involved in the theme like this year’s maternal health for effective mobilization and messaging.
MTN’s effort will not only complement their activities but also avoid glaring errors and negligence that could make this great effort counterproductive.
Conclusively, while this perceptual errors looks like an oversight, it’s important that when entrusted with responsibility; we are held accountable to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.
Author: Aliker David Martin