Ethiopian Runners Motivated By Love of Country But Maybe Also Land Bonuses

Ethiopian Athletics Federation Oversees Lucrative Land Gifts For Top Performers


(DireTube) Back when, arguably, the world ’s best ever runner was in his prime the Ethiopian government would incentivize him with rewards of plots of land. Now a leading businessman and owner of prime plots of land in the expensive Addis Ababa real estate market he looks on as a new generation begin to be encouraged in a similar way, according to a recent UK online article.  A tradition of Ethiopian runners being gifted in a similar way is  forming. 

See Also: Top Best Moments of HaileGebresellasie – Youtube 

Yet, time and time again, Haile says his prime motivations are the love of country and the desire to be the best. 

Most recently, Genzebe Dibaba and Yomif Kejelcha were offered sizable plots of land for dominating the World Indoor Championships. This made world news on March 9, 2018.  

“Although lucrative rewards are great, Love and Country, the Drive to Be the Best and Are Widely Held By Ethiopian Athletes As the Prime Motivators for Success” 


The UK Independent article on March 9, 2018 “Return of land bonuses driving Ethiopian athletics success, not drugs, says gold medal winner Yomif Kejelcha” puts other more material factors at the forefront of the Ethiopian athletes’ unexcelled drive, as is obvious from the title.

However, Ethiopian athletes as well as high performing individuals general, whether in business, entertainment or politics are not motivated solely by the promise of financial gain or reward. 

Possibly the most widely accepted theory of motivation was presented by Abraham Maslow. According to his theory, Ethiopian runners, like the rest of us are driven by the need to meet five basic need amongst which is self-actualization and self-transcendence. 

Land bonuses Can Stir Continued Success for Ethiopian Athletes

Of course, land bonuses cannot be relegated to just physiological needs which is the foundational part of Maslow’s hierarchy.  As pointed out in the Independent article Haile Gebreselassie has made a name for himself as a world-class entrepreneur. This indicates that land bonuses lead to respectability and can even launch an extraordinary entrepreneurial career. But why pair land bonuses with doping as the two forces which drive high performing athletes? 

It is likely the current media storm regarding doping has something to do with it.  Mainly,  the stems from the unprecedented exclusion of Russia from Olympic competition. 

Related: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Wikipedia)

 Haile Gebreselassie is presented in the article not only as a  beneficiary of land bonus but possibly a causal factor as well.  Addis Ababa land plot rewards were reintroduced following his appointment as President of the Athletics Federation. This recent news report, which interviewed many Ethiopian athletes, seem to indicate that he is behind this initiative.


Significantly, Genzebe Dibaba and Yomif Kejelcha were given assurances that they would get large land plots here in Addis Ababa. The rewards would be based on their achievements at the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships. Other Ethiopinan runners are sure to follow suit. 

The Independent, today, quoted Kejelcha as saying, “In previous years the government would give land to the athletes,” Kejelcha said. “This happened to Haile, but then stopped for several years.”

In this regard, judging from the major indoor competition in Birmingham last week the reward system had stellar results.

Related: Ethiopian Runners Gets Four Gold At IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018

Genzebe Dibaba won two golds, one in the 1500 meter and another in the 3000 meter. And 18-year old Yomif Kejelcha took home the 3000meter gold, defending his title.

Mukhtar Edris got a land bonus for winning a world-class competition as described in the Independent article. He is reported as having been granted a 500 sqm plot of land. This was  as a bonus for his phenomenal win in the IAAF competitions last year.  In addition, so as Almaz Ayana.

Interestingly, the Independent writer paid this mixed compliment to Ethiopia’s capital city.

“The city is overcrowded and Chinese construction firms are currently overseeing the most intensive urban development in Africa. Many Ethiopians have been displaced, some by force, to create space. The land is highly valued.” 

Yomif Kejelcha, Almaz Ayana and others Encouraged by Government through Land Bonuses

Winning a gold in international competitions is surely deserving of lucrative rewards according to Yomif Kejelcha. It may be true to say that Yomif and his counterparts  are ‘fuelled by the incentive of being given land bonuses by the government – not drugs.” Of course in all likelihood and according to modern motivation theory he is probably also ‘fueled’ by the desire to be the best and other such self-transcending values. Many would agree that the search for excellence beats any drug or gift as a motivator, although material rewards are also great. 

Most will agree with Yomif Kejelcha’s statement, “The government should continue [with their policy] because what we do as athletes to raise the flag for Ethiopia is not easy.”

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