The Harambee Stars Match

Where do I even begin? That we lost 2-1 to Tunisia? That organisation as far as entry into the stadium is concerned was crappy?

Saturday morning came. It was a bit cloudy. But then, in this dusty town of Naivasha its been cloudy somedays but it is still dry and as dusty as hell. Carrying a sweater is just an extra burden. I like travelling light, that’s why you’ll rarely see me carrying a handbag.

So here we are at Nyayo/Coca Cola Stadium at last. It’s my first time at the stadium. The last time I attended a match live was at Kasarani. I call up the guy with our tickets. He gives us disturbingly vague directions. Have you ever tried to find someone in a large crowd? Like a graduation or a football match. You lack words to describe anything near you and you can never make out what the other person is saying. Worst of all, you realise you have run out of credit and you battery is dying. Thank God you are with your small bro, who also turns out to be creditless. At least his phone battery is full. So you look around for a hawker of credit to no avail. They are not entering the venue. Please call me’s invariably end up being sent to wrong numbers. What to do? Then the clouds burst opne and you are showered in a deluge.

As you look around for a place to shelter, your bro suggests borrowing airtime. That is when you look around for friendly faces. My bro points out, “Why don’t we ask them?” This tall guy and a quorum of his pals. He is scratching a Bamba 50.

“Excuse me, do you have any extra credit?” At my charming most.

“Why don’t you just use this.” He offers me his card, which he is about to load. Am so grateful, it doesn’t help he is not bad looking. That turns out to be the only good part of the day.

We finally get the tickets (“The Blue sign..yes, that BIG ONE..we are standing right below IT!”..and much more yelling into the phone.)

At the match in Kasarani last year, there was better crowd control since the distance between the entrace into the compound and the actual gates to the stadium is quite big. The queues moved foward fast, the tickets were checked and authanticated…it was a modicum of efficiency.

Nyayo was the total opposite. (Coca Cola is too long a word). Chaos everywhere. It was a scramble to get into the stadium. After much trodding of toes-mine, and not as much as a glance at my ticket, am in the stadium. Tickets cost Kshs. 300 and 1000 for VIP. VIP has a shade and plastic chairs. We had the P’s tickets, no V, no I.

KFF/KPL/K whatever had printed 27 000 tickets. The stadium’s capacity is 30 000 but I can tell you that it was overflowing. How the extra 5 000 or more got in is not a mystery, there was no checking or validation of tickets. We search for a good spot. This stadium is kinda’s just a field albeit with concrete terraces. It’s drizzling and the players on the field are warming up.

“Look, their kit has no names on them, again! How am I supposed to know who is who?” I ask my bro. He quickly points out some players. “There is Oliech..he is wearing blue socks. Besides, this is not the official uniform, they are just warming up. Look, there is Musa Otieno, the captain. And Mariga..” I have put on my glasses but through the drizzle all I can make out are fuzzy mirages.

A view of the field and the spectators

A view of the field and the spectators

We are optimistic as we sit on a plastic paper to wad off the damp on the concrete slabs. The players come out wearing a red kit that’s nameless, as usual. I can’t pick out Oliech because he has shaved his dreads. The red kit is quite dreary on this drizzly evening. My bro tells me their white kit was stolen. STOLEN? How? Who will wear it? I don’t believe it but he tells me he read it in the newspaper.

It’s not even two minutes into the game, and as my bro excitedly points out Radhi Jaidi

A surprising close-up of Jaidi..He was signing some autographs. Am sure there are better ones on the net but this was straight from my camera.

A surprising close-up of Jaidi..He was signing some autographs. Am sure there are better ones on the net but this was straight from my camera.

(Tunisia’s most striking player and captain..picture coming soon), the ball is in the back of our net. Tunisia scores the opening goal. My miraa chewing neighbour chews hard.
He chewed miraa all through..he is in the red shirt

He chewed miraa all through..he is in the red shirt

Halfway into the first half, it starts raining. We look left and right..and center and of course no miracle; we have no place to shelter and no one has an umbrella nearby. We are soaked wet. I can’t even rember the last time I was rained on this much. Do we leave? We stick it through. Those VIP tickets after all..

The second half and we are still upbeat. The Mexican wave and all. Patrick Oboya is the star of the game. I later had a shot of him in the bus.

Surprised? This is what paparazzi look like..yep, that's Oboya in the van(it wasn't a bus)

Surprised? This is what paparazzi look like..yep, that's Oboya in the van(it wasn't a bus)

He delivers a wonderful cross to Oliech who scores our equalizer. It’s celebration all through as plastic bottles are thrown around the pitch. Our miraa chewing neighbour has the seizures and can you imagine there is no single first aid group around? His friends help him out as we try not to crowd him. My attention is now on the pitch and him wondering if he’ll be ok. I did not see Tunisia score its winning goal.

All that, and all I can say is, it’s too soon to fire the coach, Antoine Hey.

P.S. Oliech was speaking into a Nokia 1110(the popular blue phone that’s dirt cheap) as he left the pitch. Can’t he afford a gisty one even a Chinese one? Ok, perhops there is nothing gisty about a Chinese phone.

P.S. 2
The photos are finally up.


A little bit about myself

He said honest. He pronounced the ‘h’. From then on, I stopped listening and just gritted my teeth while smiling outwardly. Some of those pronunciation lessons can really stick in your mind. I was out for a nightly walk. Nightly walks in JKUAT involve a girl and a boy, usually.

Here is how it goes. Boy likes girl. Usually, he gets her number or room number somehow. He asks her if he can talk to her. They leave the room together. To the shops first. Boy buys Alvaro or Novida for the girl. Then they start the walk. Past the busy hostel paths towards the deserted ones near classrooms. They find a place to sit down. Boy nervously begins small talk as he figures out how to tell her he likes her. Girl smiles in the dark if she likes him. Or she sighs inwardly and wonders how she will turn him down without hurting his feelings. If she didn’t care about his feelings, she wouldn’t have come to the walk in the first place.

It’s not like am always going for these walks. In fact, it’s like once in a very blue moon. I tend to think am a strange girl, or person for that matter.

I do not love compliments. Flattery will get you nowhere with me. I don’t enjoy ‘sweet nothings’ kind of phone calls. After 10 minutes, am straining conversation most times. Unless we are discussing something important. While my pals seem to relish being called ‘just to say hi’, I find it a bother sometimes.

I do not like being liked. Let me explain. I don’t enjoy being hit on. If I went for an entire semester without someone coming to the room to ‘see’ me, I’d be okay. Never mind the jokers who are just after a good time. Those are easily dismissed.

Trouble is when someone genuinely likes you. Someone who will be heartbroken (or something close to it) when you turn them down. Because you have to turn them down instead of stringing them along then finally saying no. If someone likes me and I don’t like them back, I find myself in an awkward position. They usually implore you to give them a chance. You can learn to like someone and that kind of talk.

My answers usually range from ‘I don’t know kind..’ of mumblings or ‘I’ll think about it..’ or ‘ Give me more time..’
If you get those kinds of answers from me, that’s the nearest to a NO that you will get. After that, (maybe am revealing too much) I’ll stop picking your calls or replying your texts. Don’t let lack of credit fool you. For me, it’s an excuse. Sure there are times am creditless, but I can afford a bamba 20 once in a while.

Also, if I don’t like you from the beginning, I know I am not likely to change my feelings. ‘IT’ has to be there from the beginning. IT being that indefinable thing that makes me like someone. If it ain’t there, it just isn’t. But I try to be kind about it.

If I like you..well, that’s a story for another day. I feel I have already written too much.

Back to my nightly walk. When I stopped listening, I started observing stuff. He reminded me of someone I’d rather forget. Ok, he reminded me of my high school teacher with whom I had some bad argumentS with. Then he had the slightest of accents.

Another revelation here. Usually, when I meet someone, my mind, being highly imaginative, pictures lots of stuff. Even a flash foward to a near future does occur. If I like you, I imagine lost of things I’ rather not reveal :-). If I don’t nothing comes to mind, or if it does, it is not pleasant.

In my nightly walk case, the future flashes were hardly exciting. So I just mumbled along the conversation with something close to ‘I need more time…’. With a sigh of relief when we finally rose to go back, I wished he hadn’t liked me in the first place.

We met many other couples on the way back. Am sure they were thinking…those two, huh, must have been doing stuff in the dark just like us. Sometimes all that happens during the walk is a heart breaking episode without as much contact as a handshake.

One of the paths that can appear quite romantic in the moonlight.

One of the paths that can appear quite romantic in the moonlight.

A Week Away From Home

I have spent this week at Kawangware, with an aunt and her one week old baby. I must admit it’s a challenge.

First, I have to wake up at six. The first two months of this year had me waking up at 8 a.m earliest. I was in campus, doing internal attachment. We reported at 9 am and by 12.30 p.m. our work for the day was done. All day and night was spent in not-so-useful activities. Bedtime was 2 a.m or later. As late as 7 a.m. So my mornings are spent in bed and my nights watching movies or other such stuff…

Second, every free morning at home is spent watching TV. Now, when you are in Kawangware, some people might say it’s a low-income neighbourhood. In other words, ghetto. If you thought electricity in Juja is unreliable, you have’t lived in Kawangware. First, the light go without warning. Then when they come back, they are so low, the TV won’t turn on. Also, since am a guest, I have no say on what is to be watched. I can’t stand political talkshows and all that stuff journalists interview people about. The primary goal of the TV for me is entertainment. In fact, that’s the only goal. So I choose to go to bed at 9 p.m. I haven’t slept this early since..since class six. Neither can I choose the radio station. Ethnic ones don’t work for me. I have tried.

If you are going to be moving to a ‘low-income-neighbourhood’ you need to get a curtain for your door. Here, there is no sense of personal space. What I mean is, at home we have a walled compound and no one just walks in. But here, every space in front or at the back of your house is a potential path. Anyone can pass by and when you leave your door open, curiosity will have people peeking in as they pass by.

My aunt is yet to get a househelp. I came by to bring her ‘some medicine’ for the newborn. Some medicine here means some mixture of like 40 different herbs to be boiled for the baby. I have a feeling the people who pick this medicine are doing guess work. Perhaps one out of those 40 plants has medicinal purposes but they don’t know which.

Anyway, my mum was convinced it was best. She claims she fed us with it and look how healthy we turned out.

At home I do plenty of housework, but that is after I wake up at 9 a.m. Afternoons and nights are spent on TV. But with my aunt’s help on the way, am doing plenty of housework. Of course at first I wished I’d pack my bags and go..but how can I do that? Most, ok all, of my aunts think highly of me. They are proud of how disciplined and hard working I am. I wouldn’t describe myself so glowingly though. But I couldn’t let her down. So housework be it.

Between washing dishes and cooking lunch and washing the baby’s clothes…I am reading Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life. It’s like a 40 day spiritual journey. The only reason am reading it is because there is nothing else to read. This is like the 3rd non-novel book am reading. And there is no way I can read a chapter a too eager, and I have ended up reading it like a I have given up on it.

Back to my week away from home. You don’t want to go to the bathroom at night. Most of the houses, in fact all the houses I know here, are just built as rooms. Even the ones made of concrete and stones. Then the bathrooms and toilets are situated some distance away. Now you don’t want to go to the bathroom at night because it will entail getting out of the house, walking some distance in the dark hoping you wont step on anything, groping with a padlock while handling the torch and hoping you dont meet someone dangerous on your way back. What to do? You might want to limit your fluid intake after 4 p.m.

Sleep does not come easy at night. It could have something to do with the fact that bedtime comes way early. But mostly, it’s the porous walls. I sleep in the room below:

The room I sleep in..note the curtain at the door

The room I sleep in..note the curtain at the door

We have a Kamba neighbour whose entertainment system is just where I put my head. I usually feel like his music is in my head pounding away. I don’t think I can ever enjoy Kamba music after this. Not that I have enjoyed it before.

The little bugger who is making me stay over here is a sweet one. He even smiles though he is sooo tiny and is just 3 Kgs or thereabouts. He has spent most of his time asleep though..he sleeps like 22 hours a day. I know why babies are called bundles of joy..they are usually so wrapped up. But they have to otherwise you might not be able to hold them because they are too tiny.

When I started the week, I never thought I could get through with with it. But I managed and now as I go back home soon, I can only say I have learnt that babies are hard work, and who would want to have any?

The sweet little bugger..

The sweet little bugger..