Heroine welcome for Semenya, but is this the end of her humiliation by the media?

Submitted by Francis Ngwa-Niba on 25 August 2009 - 6:30pm

Women's world 800m champion Caster Semenya is back home in South Africa and in familiar turf, but the western press and their 'confidentiality breakers' aren't done yet.

She received a rapturous welcome but while hundreds turned out to give the "golden girl" a reception fit for a queen, another "leaked" report claimed initial gender tests on the 18 year old Semenya showed her testosterone levels were three times higher than that "expected" in an average woman.

Who leaked these results? Why haven't we heard her complete gender test results? If a gender test result are so complicated, why is somebody leaking Caster Semenyas' unfinished tests results?

Is the world being prepared to eventually accept that this young, innocent girl and the South African athletics federation somehow in-avertedly cheated by fielding a man as a woman?

Eric Modiba, Semeyas former headmaster for years thought she was a boy because she was rough, always played with boys, wore pants to school and never wore a dress. He only learnt later she was a girl.

Her parents, relatives, neighbours and even her birth certificate her mother had to produce in "evidence" all indicate SHE is a WOMAN.

Now back to basics. How should we define a woman? Soft spoken, breasted, feminine, soft with all necessary female attributes which should include female sex organs?

Well, each day on television, I see hundreds of women who don't fit this bill. Breast implants, all types of bleaches, angular women, husky voices, superficial models, you name it, I have seen it on TV.

There are many many different ways to define a woman in this day and age. Whoever gave the international athletics federation the right to start questioning the sex of a poor, rural, unspoilt and smiling South African girl? Was it criminal for Semenya to win the 800m because that is what initially led to this crisis in the first place.

Back home, the ruling ANC party has seized the opportunity presented by the shabby treatment of Semenya to talk sexism and racism.

South African president Jacob Zuma deplored Semenyas treatment while Winnie Mandela, wife of the former apartheid icon Nelson Mandela said semenya was being ill-treated because she was a WOMAN.

The ANC is now milking the crisis for all its worth and there are indications the South African athletics federation might eventually sue the world athletics federation that started the crisis in the first place.

The whole South African nation might be indignant at the treatment of their "golden girl" but little is being said about how this is affecting the smiling girl. She just might be boiling inside.

The sad effects of this gender crisis is that Caster Semenya might never compete again. No one knows how this is affecting her psychologically but she has been taking the crisis in her stride, not complaining and hitting back at her critics.

Because of the public way that the crisis has played out, some female athletes' might refuse to compete against her even if the tests prove she is a woman.

In the worst case scenario, Caster Semenya might just decide to get a man and start a family to prove once and for all that she is truly a woman.

However this turns out in the end, the world might have lost a promising athlete that still had so much to offer but could not because she looked and sounded and won races; differently.

The author can be contacted at francisngwa@yahoo.com.