Category Archives: Travel

What Goes Through the Mind of a 26 Year Old Woman?

I composed this blog post in my head while I sat in traffic, contemplating my life. The radio was tuned into 1FM, it’s the only radio station that has a clear reception, since I am still using the Japanese frequencies that came with the car radio. The music is local and urban hits: basically modern African hits – Mafikizolo, Davido, Sauti Sol, Elani, Diamond Platinumz, Ali Kiba (mapenzi yana run dunia comes to mind) etc. But my thoughts drift…

nairobi traffic
These are the traffic jams I have to go through in the evenings. Plenty of time to think. Image from http://monicahnjeri.files.wordpress.com/

My Son

Of course, he’s always on mind, especially if I am idle. I think about how he will start crying for me from the moment I drive through the gate, rushing towards me so I can pick him up then he smiles and tries to remove my spectacles. He’s already widened them beyond belief and now they hang limp and loose on my face. This means I have to remove them and then there is the delicate balancing act of my son, spectacles, keys, handbag, laptop bag and any groceries I may have bought. Usually, I make sure I drop anything else except Jeremy.

When in traffic, I think about what kind of life I want to give my son. Will I bring him up to be a kind, responsible man? Will I help him achieve his dreams and ambitions? Will I be the kind of mother he would be proud of? Can I set a good example for him to follow? How will I afford his school feels? What kind of schools will I take him to? In fact, where in the world will I bring him up? (This will be relevant when you read later thoughts).

I’m grateful everyday for the support of my parents, I’m still living with them and in a way they are parenting both of us. Will I make it when I move out and start on my own? How tough is this single parenthood journey?

Then I relax and decide it will be a journey, one day at a time, and things will always work out, they always do for me, in the end.

Finances

cash-kenya-shillings
Money, money, money… money (know that song?)

Which leads to finances. I have been working in formal employment for almost 2 years now, but I have little to no savings. Start saving now, they say, while you are still young, no matter how much you earn. It is not easy, I must admit. I live a subsistence kind of life; my salary only sustains me as far as the next salary. I need a side hustle that brings in good money. Or a better job, which will of course mean I increase my expenses and we are back to subsistence. How can I make more money? I ask myself.

I am not the type of person who would depend on another for money & security, I always know I will make my own money. And when we speak with friends, we tell ourselves, can we really make enough in formal employment? Business is the way to go, we agree. Entrepreneurship. Some of my friends are already running their own businesses. Some are working, like me. Not many have the courage to be entrepreneurs, not many were meant to be entrepreneurs.

Career

This could be me and Jeremy..
This could be me and Jeremy.. or is it Jeremy and I?

Which leads me to ask myself, do I like what I am doing? Is it leading me to the path of riches and accomplishments (vain thoughts?)

Do I want to continue working in Ernst & Young in IT audit and consultancy? Is there a future for me here, right now?

Then I remember the decision was already made for me. I have already tendered my resignation letter  but will be here for the next 2 months, then have my last working day in early September. I am leaving EY to go back to school. See next train of thought.

Academics

I recently graduated from Strathmore University with an MSc in Mobile Telecommunication and Innovation. Here is a graduation selfie to prove it :- ) (FYI I graduated three years ago with a first class BSc in Computer Science from JKUAT)

graduation selfie
I am serious looking I know but I was contemplating my accomplishments :)

Did the time I invested in learning at Strathmore, courtesy of the Safaricom Academy worth it? Definitely. I learned not only mobile programming in all platforms (USSD, Android etc), but also project management, business skills, entrepreneurship, leadership and management. I know I will apply them not only now but also in the future, especially when I set up my own business to make more money so I can better take care of my son (all thoughts center around the same issues, as you can see!)

Japan, October 2014

As you wonder why I am resigning from my job with an reputable, international, I will tell you to stop wondering.. here’s why.

I got a Japanese Ministry of Culture and Education (MEXT) scholarship to go and study in Japan, at a university of my choice. I decided to go because I have always wanted to travel, and I’m going to the East first, conquer the world one country at a time. So I am going to the School of Information Science at JAIST to major in Artificial Intelligence. Another MSc. For like 2 years. But I’m young enough, with 2 years of work experience.. and I like studying, and will probably end up in (industry) research. Every tech company worth its salt has invested in research.

So I’m leaving in early October, hopefully, fingers crossed. I’ll leave Jeremy and Bella in my mother’s loving arms, then when I’m settled, I’ll send for J. For the next 2.5 years that I will be in Japan, I couldn’t possibly leave my son behind that long! I will have to do everything possible to reunite us.

Relationships

My friend Pitz tells me a woman is her most attractive at 26. He says there was research carried out, apparently. Or is it a survey? So as you see me today, I am at the height of my attractiveness hehe.. so where are those serious men? How will my ambitions to travel and see and work anywhere the world, to study etc.. how will these ambitions converge with another? Is there someone out there whose path will cross mine? Is it okay if I am not even contemplating marriage? Is it okay if I decide I don’t have to “settle down” and can live the rest of my life in single motherhood?

The thing about relationships is that it’s not your decision alone to make. So until someone else comes along whose decisions I want to be a part of, and vice versa, I shall reserve my stall my train of thought here….

By the time, traffic has started to move, but oh wait, it was just a teaser. The cop halts the flow of traffic after 2 or 3 cars. We sit and wait.. and I finally decide it’s time I solved the Rubik’s cube that I’ve been learning to these past few weeks, in between reading books (I am currently reading the Woman in White by Wilkie Collins and I am yet to write the review for Den of Inequities by Kinyanjui Kombani), blogging, meeting friends for coffee, and squeezing in some hours of work between commuting to work in the morning and commuting home in the evening..

Solving Rubik's Cube
I’ve been using a numbered cube to make master the moves faster

The cube is just about solved when traffic finally moves and I zoom home to my family, hooting at bad drivers, cursing at those who cut me off in traffic, and nodding to Elani’s kookoo.. I’m going kookookoo so kookoo coz I…aiaiai love you…… turning up the volume of my Japanese radio.

 

WordCamp Kenya 2012 is Here!

WordCamp is an informal gathering of WordPress enthusiasts, bloggers, podcasters, developers and designers. The event will bring all these people together, under one roof, for 2 days. November 10th and 11th at Maanzoni Lodge, Mombasa Road. As Kenya gets close to the first general elections after the 2008 violence, the online community needs more than ever to embrace positive and responsible engagement. This will be the theme for this year’s WordCamp Kenya 2012.

WordCampKenya 2012

For those who did not attend WordCamp last year, I can tell you you missed a lot of fun and learning. It was held at Fisherman’s Camp in Naivasha around the same time.

With time, I will blog about the topics, the speakers, and the interactive sessions that will definitely characterize this year’s WordCamp. I can’t wait.

Grab your tickets online here.

Each WordCamp Kenya 2012 ticket admits one person and covers the following:

Meals for 2 days during the conference
Soft drinks during the conference
WordCamp Kenya T-Shirt
2 day Conference
Lodge accommodation (Each room has 2 beds, 2 persons per room)
Return transport from Nairobi city center to Maanzoni Lodge

AFC Leopards, Champions For Life

AFC Leopards Vs Tusker FC: Heartbreak in Mombasa

Last weekend (the one before the most recent one), I was on the road to Mombasa, imagining how AFC Leopards was going to extend the unbeaten run to 24 matches after beating Tusker FC at Mbaraki Stadium. I rallied my friends in Nairobi to travel with me, and called up my friend Veeh in Mombasa for her first stadium experience!

Needless to say, Tusker beat us 2-0, ending our unbeaten match run. However, we still remained on top of the league, and we’re the team to watch for the Kenya Premier League title in 2012.

AFC Leopards Coast Branch fans match through the streets to the venue of the match on that fateful Saturday!

My advice? Do not emotionally over-invest in a team. It can break your heart. Possibly your phone in the process.

The remains of Calypso, my former galaxy S II. Taken by Baby-C, my new phone, a Nokia C1 which I shall review later! RIP!

The loss humbled us Ingwe Fans, possibly bringing some sanity into our heady and lofty expectations!

Karuturi Sports vs AFC Leopards: Moving On.. to a Draw in Naivasha

Yesterday, Sunday 29th April, we Leopards took the fight to Naivasha. We played Karuturi Sports at their grounds in Naivasha. In spite of an early lead that they had, we equalized in the second half via a header from Erique Masika (the defender we got from Gor Mahia for a KPL record of Kshs. 450,000)

Eric Masika is the one with the blue hamstring guard(?). He plays defence, number 40 is his jersey and he spots a blonde mohawk! This picture was taken during Thika Utd's match when we defeated them 2-1!

Unfortunately I was not able to attend the Naivasha match, meaning out of the 12 games we have played this season, I have attended 10 and missed 2. Which is sad because I wanted a perfect attendance record.

The Nokia C1

If I had money right now, I would head to the nearest Samsung shop and get myself another S II. It was a fantastic phone. Even now, if you press the power button hard enough, you can feel the response, and the menu&back buttons light up. I may take it to the Samsung shops to see if the can revive it but I’m not having high hopes.

In the meanwhile, I have replaced Calypso with Baby-C, a Nokia C1-01, whose review will be coming soon!

The Nokia C1-01, my new swag. Nicknamed Baby-C. Image from paperpk.com

Bloggers’ Awards: Vote for My Blog

Meanwhile, you can vote for my blog in the bloggers’ awards coming up on Saturday. Click here to vote for my blog in the General Category.

Survey: Help a Sister Out

There is this lady doing her masters degree at the University of Nairobi, and if you have time, please fill these questionnaires. She needs the info for her thesis!

Questionnaire for Citizens – https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHF2THZncmNyX3FuREs1V2hMZ1JLa3c6MQ

Questionnaire for Open Source Software Developers - https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dERNcTMtQWotckdPSUlnMTFkaXVfTlE6MQ

Questionnaire for Content Creators – https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dFQ2ZmY1dTRMMzV5emhSbkFBOFlDLVE6MQ

The Mighty Leopard Claws Rangers 6-2: From Mumias With Love

This year, one of my plans is to watch all of AFC’s Leopards matches. Out of 9 matches I have watched 8. I felt bad when I missed the match against Western Stima in Mumias two weeks ago, but I had to visit a former classmate who had lost her sister. Sometimes your friends come first.

This time, AFC Leopards (Ingwe) was playing against Rangers FC in Mumias on Sunday at 3pm. I was not going to miss it. I sent my money to the person who was organizing the trip; Kshs. 1500 return. A real bargain. I was in town early so I could buy red canvas shoes.. these go well with the red & black uniform of Ingwelets (female Ingwe fans), which we planned to wear. And we rocked it!

Ingwelets in the red and black uniform at a past match, note the red Bata canvas shoes! Image from facebook.

Fans travelling by whatever means: hired school buses, tour vans, personal cars etc, assembled at Kencom Stage in downtown Nairobi for some noise (if you were near you heard the vuvuzelas &whistles around 9pm) before prayers and departure. We sped on through the night, singing various songs and getting high on drinks that are carried specifically for the journey. Drinks & miraa were shared generously. Songs were sung throughout the night.. it was morning when I realized just how much I had been talking and was losing my voice, so I decided to shut up for a while.

The journey from Nairobi to Mumias took us through Naivasha, Nakuru, Eldoret, Bungoma.. then Mumias. Near Bungoma, at around 6am, we came to a scene where a trailer had overturned, spilling its precious cargo that had already been looted: Dock Beer. I am sure you have never heard of this brand! Neither have I!

This must be one of those for-export-only brand! So next time you feel fancy about taking some foreign beer know that manufacturing is probably local. Some looters were trying to hawk it to us, big mistake. When you are in bus full of a group of people who know each other, and you are trying to sell beer you just looted… to cut the story short, no one paid for no beer. I got myself two cans. Breakfast you see.

Dock Beer. Two cans for me. Tasted bleugh! But beer is an acquired taste, no?

One of AFC’s veteran fans, Doc Walela, had a welcome breakfast for all traveling fans in his home, and we passed by. I tried eating a mandazi but by this time I realized my mild cold had turned into a throat infection. The only thing I could swallow was liquids so I turned to Dock. I’m liking this name, Dock. Our bus then left for another fan’s place, who hosted us for lunch. Meanwhile, after showering, I slept peacefully under a tree all morning. Nothing beats sleeping under a tree on a sunny day!

Chilling under the tree waiting for the match to begin.

I was woken up at lunch time for a meal of brown ugali, chicken and traditional vegetables. I had taken some Celestamine (they really work) and was feeling better so I gobbled down my meal. Busaa and chang’aa were provided too :-) Nothing beats eating under a tree on a sunny day after a breakfast of Docks and a morning sista under the same tree!

We made our way to the Mumias Sugar Complex, where the stadium is located. The place was already full even though it was 30 minutes to kick off. The Isikuti and whistles filled the air. the singing and dancing in the stadium was on another level. The players were out warming up. Koops, our coach, waved to us and we acknowledged with whistles and loud cheers. Rangers FC, the team that conceded 6 goals without scoring any against Thika United, was looking to redeem themselves. Oh how wrong they were!

The whistle went off. The game started. It was starting to look like a tough one, like we may not score. However, our Captain Imbalmbala opened up for us with a header from a corner. I didn’t actually see the goal because of the many people who were on their feet in front of me. But I sure heard the celebration! The linesman was disputing the goal but the referee allowed it!

Two minutes later, I saw fans celebrating and knew we had scored again! Allan Wanga made it 2-0. Too bad I didn’t see that goal either.. I’m telling you being in the stadium is not just about the game, it’s about the atmosphere there. The noise, the dancing, the electric wave that engulfs the stadium when a goal is scored, the moment of bonding when all are united in screaming “Ingwe! Ingwe! Ingwe!” as the players come nearer the fans to celebrate a goal!

Bageya and Victor Ochieng’ made it 4-0 and it was almost half-time. Unfortunately, Rangers equalized to make it 4-1. It was half-time.

Time to dance. Everyone who could took to the dance floor: the space between the benches and the field, and shook their shoulders or waists or whatever body parts to whichever tune they were hearing. The fans who sat in front of me had these tall cans of Tusker, and offered some. It’s my rule book that you don’t turn down free beer, it’s just rude ;-)

By this time, my cold was starting to take toll and the weather was changing, becoming cloudier. I asked my friend the pharmacist if I could take another pill, and he said it’s ok. I borrowed a bottle of water from someone so I could use it to swallow the pill. I put the pill in my mouth and took a swig of the “water”. It was KC!!!! (Kenya Cane) Burned a hole down my throat. So much for not mixing alcohol and pills.

The second half started. We sat down to enjoy the goals that were yet to come. I was rooting for 4 more goals. It started raining, lightly at first so the referee let the game continue. Bageya and Victor Ochieng added a goal each, making it 6-1!!! I saw these goals, saw how our midfielder Salim Kinje made some clever moves!

The rain got worse, even hail stones at some point. The referee stopped the game for almost an hour, while we sheltered. Some fans though, took advantage of this moment. To dance in the rain, what freedom! They didn’t care about the mud that now covered their clothes, or about skidding and falling in the pools of dirty water!

Some fans dancing in the rain. Image from fb

After the rain stopped, players and some fans helped drain the water from the pitch, clearly the drainage isn’t perfect. They used banners, bottles, anything they could find. The match resumed but the rain had stopped our goal momentum and it was Rangers FC who scored their much needed consolation goal. The match ended 6-2!

Players draining water from the pitch so the match could resume. Image from fb

I bet the gate collection was close to Kshs. 1,000,000. Since it is a home game, it’s our club’s for the taking. Rangers FC has been having some financial problems and I’m sure they could do with the milli.

After the game, some fans went to Kakamega, Kisumu, Bungoma, or their rural homes for the night, and to celebrate in their own ways. Most of us traveled to Nairobi on Monday morning.

This was my first time in Western Province and though I didn’t do much sightseeing, I had a wonderful time. I look forward to the next game in Mumias.

AFC Leopards is on top of the KPL table with 23 points from 9 matches. We are unbeaten this season.

To Mombasa and Back: Connected Kenya Summit!

This past week has seen me shuttle between Mombasa, Nairobi, Mumias and back again to Nairobi. I went to Mombasa for the connected Kenya 2012 summit, big tings agwan! I think what I’m trying to say is the connected summit is Kenya’s biggest ICT conference. The top (and everyone) industry players were there. Kenya ICT board, Ministry of ICT, Safaricom, Orange, Google, SAP, Microsoft etc. The event took place in South Coast at a 5 start hotel. Conference delegates were spread out among beach resorts near Leisure Lodge because we all could not fit in one hotel.

Together with some delegates, I flew on Monday from JKIA in Nairobi to Moi Airport in Mombasa. Since I live near the airport in Nairobi, I did not have to worry about traffic to the airport. From the airport in Mombasa to South Coast, we took a bus and had one of my scariest rides: the ferry. There is always traffic around the ferry area so it took us 2 hours to get to our hotel in South Coast! However, if you can afford it, you should fly to Ukunda Airstrip in South Coast, just 5 KM away from the major resorts. Then you don’t have to go through Moi Mombasa Airport and the mess that is the ferry crossing.

People and human traffic at the ferry crossing in Likoni, Mombasa. Image from tripadvisor.de

Every day of the conference ended with cocktails and dinner, sponsored by one company or the other. We all know what happens when you place free food and drink before a Kenyan; restraint is thrown out of the window. Moderation ceases to exist. And when the hotel finally closed down, like all people chasing after a fast life, most people went to the only club that kicks it in South Coast: Shark Attack. I hope that’s how it is spelt. The bad thing about staying out so late is that you end up missing the whole morning sessions of the following day.

I made it a point to swim every morning before breakfast at the Indian Ocean Beach Resort swimming pool, where I was staying. You couldn’t really swim in the ocean in the mornings because you’d find the water had retreated but you could take a walk and watch the sun rise over the ocean if you are the type to admire sunrise. Which I am.

The swimming pool at Indian Ocean beach club. Image from safarivo.com

Wednesday night was the last night of the conference and Safaricom/ICT Board held the party of parties. We were welcomed to dinner on the beach by beauties handing out branded kangas/kikoys. I located a seat and ordered my drink on the rocks, except the ice cubes melted so fast in the Mombasa temperatures. The atmosphere was great, people were in great spirits and I remember at one point I had a glass of one in one hand, knee-deep in the shallow beach water and staring at the expansive ocean as the waves came crashing in. I remember thinking that right there, is life.

A woman sips wine and watches the sun set over the ocean. Image from 123rf.com

Eric Omondi on a camel with some funny jokes, some repeated, some fresh. Wyre the Love Child on Stage, electric! Some dancing competition and someone winning phones/laptops/tablets. Wyre with that guy who sings in Kikuyu (just remembered JB Maina.) More wine, but this time the waiter decided to leave the bottle on the table so I could refill at leisure. At the dance floor again. Giving out phone to a trusted friend so I don’t lose it. Talking to people, everyone starts pouring out their hearts. Is that a dare I hear? Off to the ocean then.. I win my dare. Kshs. 500. But the sucker refuses to pay! Getting pissed and taking off. Oh, my bottle is still there. Meeting some new people, accepting business cards with a promise to get in touch. I should leave before someone does something they might regret. A good friend gets me a cab to the hotel. I get up at 8am on Thursday morning, one hour later than I had hoped. That is how I missed my return flight.

Thursday morning was a frantic rush to pack and check out of the hotel and rush to the airport. We arrived there at noon, one hour after scheduled take-off. Lucky for those of us who missed our flights, KQ sometimes operates like a matatu. We got seats in the next flight with no extra charges.

I took time on Friday to catch up on work and stuff. Since it was Easter, I’m still ignoring school work until Tuesday evening when I attend my first class a week after we opened school!

Saturday night found me on my way to Mumias to watch AFC Leopards play Rangers, but that is a story for the next post!

New Neighbourhood

It’s already the second week of 2012! I still haven’t done a post reviewing the past year – where this blog got 110,000 page views- and I don’t think I will do it. Let me just contend myself with living this year to the fullest (sorry for the cliche).

I have decided to ditch the formal blogging voice and go with one that’s more of me.. more of Savvy. That’s my 2012 resolution. Anyway, we recently moved from a hood on Thika Road, Kahawa Wendani, to a new one near Utawala. There is a big difference between these two places.

1. Building Style

Houses in Kahawa Wendani, as in most estates in Nairobi, are built to make maximum use of available space. Apartments can have up to 8 floors, and no self-respecting average Nairobi apartment block will have a lift! Also, there is rarely any piped water flowing and you have to buy water and carry it up the 8 flights of stairs!

A building in Kahawa Wendani on your way to Nakumatt Supermarket.

Houses in the general Utawala area are restricted to a maximum of two storeys, I hear because of the proximity to the airport. The place is more like an upcoming suburb and people move there after years of saving, buying plots and building their own houses. Some of the houses are not yet complete, ours included. But there is this Kenyan spirit of doing things; the house will be completed while you live in it. At least you are not paying rent.. rent is just money down the drain!

An average house in the Utawala area..

2. Type of Neighbours

In Kahawa Wendani, we hardly knew our neighbours looked like, let alone their names. The only time we knocked on their houses was when you had to ask them to move their vehicle which was blocking yours in the limited space that served as the parking lot.

Most of the people living in Kahawa Wendani are young; students who study at Kenyatta University (KU)

In our new neighbourhood, we are starting to know our neighbours… On the day we moved, which was a Sunday, the people passing by stopped to say hello and welcome us to the hood. One of our new neighbours then went to her farm and picked sukuma wiki for us to use during the week. The scarcity of water in Nairobi in general also affects the area and for like the first two days, we borrowed water from the Probox neighbour (duh, he drives a Probox). The only son of the neighbour on right hangs out in our house most of the time. The neighbour yonder (equally no taste in cars, you see Funcargos, Noahs, Proboxes etc) has a kid who comes to our kitchen demanding chapos because she’s hungry. It’s like we’re back in the village!

Most people living here are families, hardly any single/young people unless they are waiting to move out (points at self)

3. Transport To and From Town

From Kahawa Wendani to town, we had various matatus, from old to pimped new ones. There was also the option of theGithurai buses (they make you so religious, you have to pray before and after the journey because of the reckless driving). The pimped matatus carried equally pimped crew and passengers, mostly KU students. The buses were cheap off peak times, 10bob to town! They have fancy names like Maranatha, Paradiso etc

Now the buses that service the Utawala route are the boring but reliable KBS, City Shuttle etc. They charge a

A KBS bus
constant fare of Kshs. 80 bob, even if you’re the only passenger to town and it’s 6pm! The passengers are equally boring, usually reading newspapers, eating snacks and fries as if we’re traveling upcountry.

4. Population

Because there are no tall apartments built closely together till they receive no sunshine, Kahawa Wendani is fast becoming another Githurai. There are many people there, try driving along the busy narrow road to the supermarket.

Utawala has fewer people, better houses, polite neighbours, and the house we live in is bathed in sunlight from sunrise to sunset. The setting feels village-like save for the lack of farms. No doubt less exciting to live in than Kahawa but I prefer it here.

Thika Road Vs Mombasa Road Traffic

To be honest, this is a tough one! Traffic on both roads is horrible especially during rush hours. To Kahawa Wendani, Thika road is busy in the morning when people are going to work, and in the evening when going home. The superhighway was not yet complete when we were moving, so the traffic load had not lessened.

From Utawala, we use the bypass (I think the Eastern bypass) to Mombasa Road, where traffic usually starts at Capital Center and stretches all the way to Uhuru Highway. I prefer it though because I’m currently a student/tutor at Strathmore and hence I don’t have to sit in the crawling traffic all the way to town! I get off at Nyayo and find a matatu going to Madaraka at the stage.

Happy 2012 people!

Day Two of WordCamp

Read about Day One

WordCamp Kenya 2011 was definitely worth it! The second day had presentations from the likes of Anthony Mwangi on the use of WordPress as a CMS, not just a blogging platform. Boniface Mwangi, one of Kenya’s best photographers, showed us some thought-provoking (raw images) of post election violence scenes. His aim is to inspire discussion around good leadership and getting us to get online talk into real life action.

Wamathai and KenyanPoet then talked about poetry and their experiences. In the next POWO (POets and Writers Online) meeting on November 19th at iHub, the blogger Wanjohi wa Kigogoine will be there. I shall turn up if only to see how he looks like :-)

There was a lot of discussion on bloggers and ethics, politicians and social media etc. All good things come to an end and I’ll just leave you with some pictures from Crayfish Camp in Naivasha.

A view of the green landscape we drove through

A view of Mt. Longonot (looks like Longonot to me :-)

A section of the crowd that attended WordCamp! The turnout was great!

More people at the campsite ...

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Fisherman's camp is a beautiful place this time of the year

Kenya’s Harambee Stars Vs Ugandan Cranes: The Journey to Kampala and Back

This weekend, a lot of African football was played. Teams were battling it out for a slot in the Africa Cup of Nations (ACN) to be played in January next year, hosted jointly by both Equitorial Guinea and Gabon.

Kenya and Uganda were in the same group, and I remember sneaking out of church (well, sort of) last year so I could catch the first leg of the match at Nyayo Stadium. Click to read my summary of them match last year! I had bet heavily on the game and might have had to change my nationality to Ugandan if we had lost. It ended in a 0-0 draw.

The buses were draped in the match banners! Excitement in the air was high!

Uganda was leading in the group which consisted of Kenya, Uganda, Guinea Bissau and Angola. Ugandans were confident, cocky, arrogant… they thought the match against Kenya was just a formality. If they beat us, as they knew they will, they would automatically qualify for the ACN. Since they were at home, and their team had an impressive run, their headlines in the newspapers were to the tune of “How to Celebrate the Cranes Win”, and clubs advertised how they will organize the winning party.

I had no idea how I was going to travel to Kampala, but luckily, Kalonzo Musyoka, our Vice President, offered to pay for football fans. I decided I was going to get on that bus somehow. Luckily for me, the VP is on twitter and he offered to pay for 200 tweeps to join the rest of the traveling fans. After hounding his account (I can be relentless he he), I finally ended up on the list of Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) who were sponsored for the trip which included free transport, 1000bob for food allowance and a free ticket. KEFOFA (KEnya FOotball Fans Association) organized the whole trip which was eventful as it was exciting!

We arrived at Nyayo Stadium on Friday afternoon where the rest of the fans were gathered. The VP was there to flag us off.. Because of the logistics of organizing, checking our luggage, briefing and finally take off, we left Nairobi at 9pm. We made a lot of noise as we cruised past the city’s highways which had been cleared of traffic for us!

Kenyan fans at Nyayo listen to the VP and other politicians give speeches at the Nyayo National Stadium shortly before flagging us off!

The journey to the border at Malaba was long but never boring. The KOT were a source of amusement as they called for numerous stops to empty and refuel (don’t ask!) their body systems.

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A tweep, @kiraggz, with his cheering stuff in very high spirits (sic).

We finally made it to the border at 4am, where the processing of our documents by immigration on both sides would take hours! We had to wait for everyone to be cleared! In addition, we waited for the Kenyan ambassador to deliver our tickets, the Ugandan security forces to frisk us (though all they did was count us!) after which they accompanied our convoy to Kampala. We left the border at around 10am, after some fans had freshened up by taking ‘passport’ showers and brushing their teeth at the border tap/washrooms.

The ticket and allowance in hand :)

Onwards then to Kampala.. we were tired and hungry but that did not stop us from blowing our vuvuzelas, whistles and making plenty of noise as we waved our flags at any small townships along the way. We did stop for food at some Forest point where they sell chicken on a stick. Yummy, whether chicken or wild birds!

A View of the River Nile at Jinja as we passed over it on our way to Kampala. Beautiful, as always.

The chicken on a stick being hawked... It tastes good, trust me

We made it to Kampala a little past 1pm in readiness for the match at 5pm. We drove straight to the Namboole International Stadium in Kampala, where we parked and tweeps readied themselves for the match. One @raidarmax decided to hawk popcorn so he could raise some money perhaps to buy some Nile Special… those guys had pitched tent at the stadium!

Raidarmax with a bag of popcorn.. okay more like a sack of popcorn!

It was 3 hours to the game yet the stadium was filling up fast! We decided to freshen up (we all can’t do public freshening ups at the border!) at some hotels/cheap lodgings/guesthouses etc that surrounded the stadium. We then donned our Kenyan shirts (trademark red), carried our flags, vuvuzelas, whistles and other cheering paraphernalia and off to the stadium we went!

The packed stadium!

The place was packed to capacity! We could hardly get sitting space! The Ugandan fans were cheering and overpowering us (they had the advantage of numbers and the public address system) but we put up a show! They sang We go, we go.. and we replied you go, you go! I’ll try to upload the clip.

The Kenyan fans at the stadium!

I will not bore you with the match’s technical details, the pictures should suffice! Uganda was desperate to score especially when they realized Angola was almost winning its match against Guinea, which meant that Angola would qualify. The first half was exciting but no goals were scored, and in the second half, with the help of the referee, they terrorized our defenders and goalkeeper.

Worried Kenyan fans as the second half got underway. We were afraid the inevitable might happen.. but it didn't!

There were so many ‘almost’ goals it’s a wonder no Kenyan fan got a heart attack! Uganda was relentless in its attack towards the dying minutes of the game and we have to give it up for the man of the match, Arnold Origi, the goalkeeper. His performance was nothing short of impressive. In the end it was a 0-0 draw which wasn’t that bad for us but was heart-breaking for Uganda. If only they had let us have Migingo, we might have let them score so they could qualify for the ACN in the spirit of the EA community! But they thought they were too good for our team!

Dining With The Stars

The Kenyan ambassador to Uganda had organized an after party on Saturday night for the players which was graced by the Vice President among other politicians. I was among the few lucky fans in attendance. I remember William Ruto coming to the table I sat at and greeting each of us, before going to sit down at the ‘high table’. I must admit I was star struck for a second there!

Arnold Origi (the goalie, rem) and Mariga with his small bro who plays for Celtic Wanderers sat at the table next to us; food and drinks was freely flowing, speeches were given; Harambee Stars’ performance acknowledged (I think the VP said he’d give the team half a million shillings and a mystery present for the goalie); and all in all we had fun! We then left in the VP’s entourage and I got a seat next to Eugene Wamalwa (at this point I feel like a groupie posting pics of me with *ahem, politicians and football stars but can’t help it for now!).

Keeper Arnold Origi was having Fanta at dinner time... I know the pic isn't so good, but I think it is more authentic this way using a pic from my camera rather than a Googled clear one.

Mariga, @rosyrotten, Player X (forgot name), @savvykenya, and Mariga's small bro.

Eugene Wamalwa and yours truly hitch a ride in the VP's entourage

On Sunday morning we got into the bus and traveled to Nairobi. It was a long ride this time since the excitement had died, but there were some rowdy fans in the bus that kept us entertained the whole way! The discussions though, cannot be posted on this very nice and decent blog as they were X-rated, fodder for Maina’s breakfast show on Classic 105!

The other side of River Nile on our way back to Nairobi

All in all, I had quite the time of my life! The VP should do this more often :-) especially if/when he becomes president.

P.S.

Most pictures taken by Calypso, my Galaxy S II. Others by a Nokia N8 courtesy of @kachwanya. I had to compress them so I could easily upload them and this reduced their quality but I hope you enjoy.

When AFC Leopards Painted Mombasa Blue!

First of all, I would like to say ‘pole’ to masemeji… Gor Mahia lost 1-2 to Congo United. We feel your pain but we celebrate your loss! This past Saturday, both Gor and AFC had matches. AFC was playing Bandari FC at the Kenya Ports Authority Sports Club, Mbaraki. Gor played Congo United in City Stadium, Nairobi.

Match Results: Gor Mahia 1-2 Congo United; AFC Leopards 0-0 Bandari FC

The CLAWS trust sponsored air travel for four lucky fans to watch AFC Leopards play Bandari FC, and I was among the lucky winners! . Other fans had traveled by bus on Friday night. Saturday morning was a mad rush to the airport to beat the ever present traffic on Mombasa Road. We made it in time for the 10am flight on Jetlink.

Kamle, a lucky winner of a ticket to coast, and a young fan, Ryan, at the airport waiting for the flight.

At the airport, we met other fans who were flying to coast, among them Basset Buyuka (he was an NTV news anchor at one time). There were many people who saw us in our beautiful blue and white gear and wished us all the best, though they couldn’t understand why we would fly all the way to Mombasa just to see our team play!

Ingwe Fans Mousakhulu, Mketu and Martin walk to the plane

Take off was smooth even though it was a cloudy day in Nairobi. I had a window seat so I got a number of beautiful pictures using my Samsung Galaxy S2, best phone on earth currently (but do I say!). The air hostesses served us with juice and peanuts and even before you could finish crunching them, we were landing at Moi International Airport Mombasa. The weather was agreeable and we got a cab to the hotel where most of the fans who had traveled overnight were staying.

A view of the clouds from my window seat.. breathtaking!

We were at the Mbaraki sports field in time to watch the buses carrying the players of both teams drive in. They changed into training gear and started their warm-ups. The AFC cheering squad, with its hot babes in short shorts, danced around the stadium, tireless and enthusiastic, making the Bandari cheering squad look lackluster! I guess it’s not easy to match up to the Isikuti!

Some Gor fans came and sat just below us at the spectator steps, and proceeded to amuse us for the better part of the first half. They were supporting AFC, so they claimed! They had a loaf of bread that they washed with something that wasn’t water.

The match finally got underway. We AFC fans were the majority on the grounds. We did our best to cheer on our team. The players weren’t doing their best in the first half and we hoped things would change in the second half. It was still 0-0 at half time and we didn’t want to have traveled all the way and come back with no points!

AFC fans sing as the match is about to kick-off

In the second half, the AFC players put a lot of pressure on the Bandari team. They themselves (AFC players) had pressure to perform, to give us fans at least a goal. However, most shots went wide! A number of corners were wasted, opportunities given away, shots misfired, and by the time the final whistle blew, no goals had been scored! The match ended 0-0 and we got 1 point, which put us at number 7 on the league table as of this Sunday afternoon.

Among the notable attendees of the match was one Mahmoud Abbas, the former Harambee Stars goalkeeper. Also, Brenda Mulinya and her newly wedded husband Allan Wanga took a break from their honeymoon at Watamu to watch the match. Wanga currently plays for Hoang Anh Gia Lai in Vietnam.

Later at the airport, we met the players at the waiting lounge also ready to fly back to Nairobi. I had the chance to talk to the coach, Jan Koops, who was explaining to me why we didn’t win. Suffice to say I shall not be explaining the reasons here, since I was told in confidence. You don’t belive me? Koops and I are best friends. I have a photo to prove it. See below.

Coach Koops and Savvy 'hanging out' :)