Twenty-eight-year-old activist Alie Tshwaane Komape hopes to fly the Palestinian flag high as he takes on the gruelling 94th Comrades Marathon on Sunday. The Limpopo born runner has this year alone, run over 11 marathons – all in support of the Palestinian struggle, and to highlight Israel’s killing and imprisonment of Palestinian children.
Komape has founded a BDS Palestine Sports Network – a group of people across South Africa who run, cycle and participate in other sports in support of Palestine. Members of the BDS Palestine Sports Network do this by wearing the Palestinian scarf, a BDS t-shirt, flag, other Palestinian regalia and using their social media networks to raise awareness.
Speaking to VOC on Friday, Komape said he was inspired by a team of pro-Palestinian athletes called Freedom of Movement that run to raise awareness of the Palestinian occupation and the basic right of freedom of movement in Palestine.
“The Palestinian struggle is something I am very passionate about, so it was easy to run for this. The goal is to raise the campaign for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and of course, to make it a conversation-starter. People need to discuss what’s happening and hopefully, that will lead to action.”
This year’s Comrades Marathon will be an ‘up run’ starting at the Durban City Hall at 05h30 and ending 12 hours later at the Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg. This will be the 48th up run in Comrades history. 25 000 runners are expected to participate in the 86.83km race. Komape hopes to complete the race in 10 hours.
“I believe I’m ready. I’ve put in the training since last year… and the work must show itself in the race. Today it’s about relaxing the legs and getting the mind ready for Sunday.”
Palestinian youth and minors are most vulnerable under Israeli occupation. Since 2000 Israel has killed over 3000 Palestinian children. In the last 10 years alone, between 2007 and 2017, Israel has killed more than 1200 Palestinian minors. Israel currently holds over 300 Palestinian children, some as young as 13 years old, as political prisoners.
Komape has urged all runners who are peace and justice loving South Africans to use the sport to bring attention to the Palestinian plight.
“Even if you do your evening jogs or take a walk with president Cyril Ramaphosa, wear a Palestinian t-shirt!”