Kenyan football is on its knees, praying for a savior who shall wash away the convoluted mess and restore the glory days. Not that our football has enjoyed any glory worth trumpeting about, but we keep squeezing any milestone we achieve, for all it’s worth, well aware that in the footballing league of nations, we cant even make the shortlist of ball boys. But who cares, we enjoy our soccer the best way we know how, because ours is a fun game devoid of rules.
Anyone who has watched a match from the stands will tell you of the free-for-all atmosphere around our grounds. Underage children hawk substandard foodstuffs, scantily dressed women look for quick hookups, club managers fight over plastic chairs and our federation chairperson never disappoints with his gang of ignorant, sawdust-puffed juveniles. Ever since I started following the local league, football has been used as a marketing opportunity, not for the talent on show, but for non-footballing reasons. I have since accepted and moved on and, with it, lowered my expectations of those entrusted with the standards of the game.
I mention this because I have been a direct victim of the establishment. Before I settled on my Anthropology career I did try several professions. As a child, I did not have a dream career and my parents had a wide room for experiments. When it was almost certain that I’d join medical school based on my strong grounding in the sciences, my fright at the sight of blood and dead organisms narrowed my career choices to humanities and social sciences – I joined the University of Nairobi, for a BA in Anthropology, in late 2003. Football has always been my blood group, and so I kept exploiting this hobby that couldn’t go away. In 2007, as a sub-editor for a monthly journal in Kibera, my press card led me to cover the Kenya vs Nigeria football friendly in Kasarani. Not many university students had jobs at that time; few were lucky to earn an extra shilling from their hobbies. It was the first time I ever stepped on the well-manicured turf, interviewing Yakubu Aiyegbeni – Nigeria’s match skipper. I also got Big Danny Shittu sign me an autograph. I was living the dream, until hooliganism brought me back to earth.
It never made the news but that day there was a scuffle just when fans were leaving the ground. I couldn’t understand because this was just a friendly and Kenya was the better team and were unlucky not to shake Nigeria’s onion bag. My journalistic antennas were raised and I moved faster than Dennis Oliech did to join in the celebration when Mariga scored that belter against Angola. It was a trap. This gang of rabble-rousing wanderers had stationed themselves in the stadium ready to tip the scales if any violence broke out. When it became apparent that they would return home crestfallen, they dramatized a commotion and I swallowed the bait. So I pray to Yesu Kristo, whenever I go to the mission that my Shittu, Yakubu and Yobo pinups will be sent back to my address some day.
The point am struggling to make is that football hooliganism should not be treated like a flash in the pan. Hooliganism is a deeply rooted culture the Football Kenya Federation, with all its lofty intentions, have barely scratched the surface. And that is because we have setup the FKF for failure, then proceeded to flog them for achieving the goal. We cannot have our cake and eat it; never worked that way, never will. A poisonous mentality has been formed in this country that nothing good can come from those entrusted with leadership. Fair enough, previous football regimes have always drawn their knives to bleed the leech and fatten the heifer, and that is because everybody else abrogated their responsibility and left the federation with the daunting task of resuscitating the dying baby. And when they have shown signs of getting our football out of the intensive care unit, football fans have made sure they are sent back to keep the clamour relevant. The struggle for attention by the fans knows no bounds. This week, they invaded the Nyayo Stadium turf and clobbered one of the finest match officials Kenya has ever produced, all because they had been denied a penalty while trailing 2-3 at the death. Kenyan fans have contributed nails to the coffin of our local football for far too long. The last nail that will bury our fate has taken long to come, but that is because Sam Nyamweya and his clique have incessantly dug deep to keep our heads above the water.
(image Nation Media Group)
Hooligans are the luckiest lot in this country, and the dumbest, too. A quick glance at social media outlets helps you profile the suspects and close the respective criminal files in record time. They keep poking FKF to dare arraign them in court, the most stupid way to test the canine ability of our federation. You see, fans are used to the culture of ‘everything goes’ they forget they can be slapped with a 500,000 shillings fine. This FKF kindness is now being taken for weakness, I guess it’s time to activate the laws. Those hooligans thumping their hairy chests, with the IQ of a tea-spoon, should brace themselves for war from the federation. And, boy, this is going to be brutal.
This is a Guest blog written by Anthropologist and recovering Football Addict Gabriel Oguda (@GabrielOguda) in reply to an earlier article written on this blog . Despite his love for anthropology he loves spending his weekends at the stadiums when not taking care of his beautiful Angel Maya.
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