Okay, so I stole the line above from the late Professor George Saitoti (RIP). But read on.
But first, go to ingwefans.com, create an account/ sign in, and vote for Savvy Kenya on the left hand side column for “Female Fan of the Year”.
There comes a time when as a community, the Ingwe Community, we sit back and reflect on where we are at the moment and how far we have come. 2012 was a good year in Kenyan football, and although we had some good times they should never overshadow the good ones. When all is gone and we’re old and a new generation has taken over, what will keep us going will be the memories of the good times, so let’s cherish those.
In honour of all the fans, players, officials and executive committee members and anyone else who considers themselves part of the den, the CLAWS Trust and the EC are organizing Ingwe Awards night. It’s time to appreciate everyone, young and old, tall and short, skinny and bulky who is a part of the community. It’s not about winning, because if life was about that, then we’d all never live because we have lost something at some point in our lives. It’s about letting someone have their 5 seconds in the limelight, because you know, yours too will come.
A true fan stays with the club through bad times and good times, they say. The club belongs to the fans because when all is said and done, players will come and go, coaches will come and go (we’ll miss you Koops!) , the technical bench might stick around for a while, but only the fans will last forever. Our motto makes sense: Ours Forever.
I was there when the season began on a high note, was there when we were thrashing teams by 2-0. I was present when we served the KDF, bonokos those! I was there for our first loss of the season in Mombasa, smashed a phone while dealing with the pain – see evidence (madness I tell you!). I traveled to Mumias, Coast, Kisii, Naivasha with other fans, made friends, broke some hearts (don’t ask), cheered, laughed, cried, slept and all this because of football, and not just football but football brewed in the talented community that is Ingwe.
To this day, I’m proud to be an Ingwe Fan. I ‘propound’ my Ingweism online- my blog has an entire category dedicated to AFC Leopards. My twitter (@savvykenya) account reflects this, my updates, my writing, my life.. there’s evidence of my love for this team. I talk about it every chance I get.
All I’m asking for is five minutes in the spotlight, five minutes of your time to vote for me as the female fan of the year. It’s not because I deserve it, or I have the most love for the team. It’s because the time is right, the time is now. Being a female fan has its challenges, and its rewards. If the team loses, sometimes we get blamed. If we win, our support is not always recognized. Today, I want you to think about it. We’re all part of one Ingwe family, and although we may not have undying love for each other, we have one common goal: to make our team bigger and better. It’s what I try to do in my sphere of influence. In my life.
Go to ingwefans.com, create an account/ sign in, and vote for Savvy Kenya on the left hand side column for “Female Fan of the Year”. If you haven’t done so already! For the male fan, vote for one Faraj Faluma.
Thank you for your vote
I won! I’m the AFC Leopards Female Fan of the Year 2012. Thanks for your support everyone. The gala night for Ingwe Awards is on Tuesday 11th December at Dee West Resort(or is it Club?). Be there
I followed the Kenya Premier League- now Tusker Premier League- keenly this year. This was mostly because my team, AFC Leopards, was poised to win this year’s title from day one. Although our opening match of the season was a 0-0 draw against Chemelil Sugar, who went on to defeat us 1-0 in the season finale match, we had a good run. There was drama on and off the pitch, with all the stakeholders involved in something or other. From the players, fans, technical bench and coaches, sponsors and the media it was an entertaining year in football.
Allow me to reminisce with memories from the 20-something matches I attended out of the 30 League matches this season.
Nyayo, 11th February 2012: AFC Leopards 0-0 Chemelil Sugar
This match was at Nyayo and it was the season opener. Spirts were high, we had gone for some matches undefeated from the 2011 season when we finished 5th and had defeated Gor Mahia in December to win the inaugural Peace Cup. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and we didn’t let the 0-0 result bother us.
Nyayo, 19th February: Mathare United 0-2 AFC Leopards
With this match, we showed Mathare what we got. We won in style, defeating them 2-0 and remaining on top of the KPL table until midway through the season. Koops was the coach that everyone loved and was talking about. Jimmy Bageya scored our opening goal of the season and Bernard Mang’oli made it 2-0. Here’s a picture from the match showing the players doing a jig after the goal was scored.
Nyayo, 25th February: AFC Leopards 0-2 Oserian FC
Newly promoted into the premier league from Division One, Oserian FC were treated to a display of a higher class of football from AFC and we sent them back to their flower farm in Naivasha (in tears). We kept our scoresheet clean with a convincing 2-0 win and fans started speculating on the posibility of us winning the league already! Players started doing the isokonde- a kind of sexy dance- after the match and we loved it.
Nakuru, 3rd March: Ulinzi Stars 0-2 AFC Leopards
A pattern to our winning was beginning to emerge, do you see it? We were winning by 2-0 each time! The match in Nakuru was spectactular, with a number of penalties awarded to each side. Matasi, our goalkeeper, saved one penalty and wasted the other! Ulinzi Stars is a Kenya Defence Forces team, but for that day the guns were blazing in our hands! Ulinzi Stars won the premier league in 2010.
And then we gave them the mocking salute:
Why lie, the Nakuru match probably tops as my favorite match of the season. It’s certainly among my top 5.
Nyayo, 11th March: AFC Leopards 2-1 Muhoroni Youth
Muhoroni definitely fought hard in this match. They marred our clean sheet, we had gone a number of matches without conceding any goals and Muhoroni were they first to mar that. However, we still won the match so in the end it was no big deal and we went home happy.
Nyayo, 18th March, AFC Leopards 0-0 Gor Mahia
We were going to win this match because we were picking up momentum, and a Gor player had just been red-carded. However, Gor Mahia goons decided to take this chance to throw stones and cause chaos and the match was stopped for so long that when it finally resumed, the pace had gone out of the game and it ended 0-0. I made a decision not to attend another AFC-Gor derby as long as I was still living although I did falter later. At this point, Gor was in the basement of the KPL table and we remained at the peak.
Mumias, 25th March: Western Stima 1-2 AFC Leopards
This was the first AFC game of the 2012 season that I missed. I think I may have been having exams around this time so couldn’t travel. The result of the match was very much celebrated although there were rumours of us having been ‘favoured’ because well, we’re champions.
Nyayo, 28th March: AFC Leopards 2-1 KCB
We still continued the trend of winning by 2 goals and sometimes conceding one in the process. I remember the goal scored by Baraza with his lethal left foot. It was a mid-week game and therefore could not really be well celebrated but by this time we were buoyed by our victories and our firm grasp at the top of the table. We began feeling invincible. Isokonde became a must dance after every game.Google isokonde dance, you can get a YouTube clip showing it.
An easily favorite game, where the goals rained although the 5-0 defeat over Thika United was another one full of goals! I traveled to Mumias for the first time, interacting with other fans and learning about local brews that could put the strongest of men/women to sleep in a few sips. It rained a lot during the match and at one time, it had to be stopped and when it resumed, fans and players used banners to drain water from the pitch for the match to continue. We humilated Rangers and cemented our lead in the premier league. We were on a roll!
One highlight from the journey there was a lorry carrying beer for export that had overturned and I got myself some two tall cans of Docks beer. Haven’t seen it around since.
Draining water from the pitch for the game to resume:
Thika, 14th April: Thika United 1-2 AFC Leopards
Thika had vowed to stop our unbeaten run, but we had the last laugh when we managed to score and turn the match round to our favour. Their pitch in terrible form then and the KPL should not allow any professional games to be played on it, I hope its condition has since improved. By this time, reporters could write their headlines way in advance, we were expected to win every match and we were proving everyone right.
Mombasa, 21st April: AFC Leopards 0-2 Tusker FC
You read that right, it was a loss.
Stunned we were, can you believe it?
Tusker FC have been our jinx for a while now. We took the game to Mombasa because we wanted to travel to the seaside, purely for amusement of the fans. We knew were going to lose and I still can’t believe how easily those two goals got in. I may have shed some tears and perhaps one my most expensive gadgets then saw the end of its life.
This game ended our unbeaten run and marked the turning point, for the worse, for our beloved team.
Naivasha, 29th April: Karuturi Sports 1-1 AFC Leopards
After the heartache and disappointment of Mombasa, we traveled to Naivasha to play Karuturi Sports. I didn’t make it for this match and was barely consoled by the 1-1 draw although we still remained on top of the premier league table.
Nyayo, 5th May: AFC Leopards 0-3 City Stars
I was at Nyayo that afternoon, and frankly felt nothing, I was numb. City Stars was near the bottom of the table and how they defeated us 3-0 is still something I wouldn’t want to think about. It’s like an old relationship you know was bad anyway so you don’t bother analyzing why it ended. So I won’t talk about this painful and humiliating loss to a lowly ranked team at the time.
Nyayo, 16th May: Sofapaka 2-1 AFC Leopards
This was one loss everyone admitted was just bad luck. The pace of the game was fast. We played really well, we had ball possession, accurate passes and finishes that would hit the bar or near-misses. It was heartbreaking because we played so well yet we lost to Sofapaka.
At this point, 14 games later (although most teams had played 15 games), the Kenya Premier League took a mid-season break. There was a lot of politics in the den- as we call the AFC community- about leadership and what not. I don’t like politics so won’t talk about it, but it was affecting our game, as you can see from the recent results. We needed to do something before we commenced the second leg.
Mumias, 20th June: AFC Leopards 1-1 SoNy Sugar
There is this guy in SoNy Sugar FC. He wears number 15 I think. Agwanda. Bulky. Dangerous. He scored the goal that put SoNy in the lead and I’m sure their coach Zico was happy. But Mumias is our second home ground and we couldn’t go out without a fight. We managed to score a goal in the dying minutes of the game to save face(!!) and it ended 1-1.
Nyayo, 27th June: AFC Leopards 1-0 Sofapaka
I must admit that it was tough, has always been, playing Sofapaka and when we managed the win by a solitary goal, we were happy. It meant 3 very important points and a much needed boost in morale.
Kisii, 7th July: SoNy 0-1 AFC Leopards
This also ranks as one of favorite matches. We believed we had returned to our winning ways, albeit by solitary goals instead of the 2-1 or 2-0 pattern of the first leg. I had a lot of fun in Kisii town, my hometown, partying like a rockstar after our win.
Paul Were had joined our squad from Tusker FC and the nimble midfielder’s (or is he a winger?) influence could be felt in the game.
Nyayo, 13th July: City Stars 0-1 AFC Leopards
After the earlier 3-0 embarrassing defeat, we failed to revenge in a similar manner but still got our win. And this was the third match we were winning by a 1-0 scoreline. However, it didn’t matter because getting the 3 points is what was was important at this stage.
Mumias, 21st July: AFC Leopards 1-0 Karuturi Sports
Again, a good match because we won, and by 1-0! I traveled to Mumias for the third time and bonded more with other fans who also never miss to travel. I mostly went on these trips with fans from Buru Buru Branch, quite organized, and sometimes fun.
The picture below probably makes us look very shady, which we might very well be.
Nyayo, 9th August: Rangers 0-0 AFC Leopards
Oh, I think I know why we drew this game. The game was played at 12 noon!!! The previous day, 8th, it had rained so hard that the game was pushed to the following day noon and I guess you win some, you draw some.
I didn’t attend this match because I was at work and was a new employee so hadn’t found a way to sneak around
This was the win with the biggest margin for us the whole season! After this, we felt like no one could stop us, we were inching closer to the league with about 10 games left. I left the Nyayo stadium so happy and so proud to be an Ingwe fan. Nation wrote the story beginning with: “Thika United became a highway of goals” he he, speaking of highways!
Nyayo, August 26th: KCB 2-0 AFC Leopards
Oh, KCB did us in with this game. We were playing pretty badly and the loss came as no shock and although we maintained a slim lead at the top of the table, Tusker, Gor, Ulinzi, were creeping up. We also lost our confidence and our play was shaky, made worse by the fact that we were meeting Tusker FC next.
Nyayo, 7th September: Tusker 0-0 AFC Leopards
I remember before the Tusker match, the image below was going round:
It was a floodlit match at Nyayo and no matter how hard we played, Tusker defenders were at their best and the game ended in a 0-0 draw. We got our one point and soldiered ahead.
Nakuru, September 15th: Western Stima 2-1 AFC Leopards
I didn’t make it for this match in Nakuru for some reason or other. By now, we had gone for like 3 matches without winning and this was the 4th and it was a loss! We were losing points and Tusker was catching up with us, Gor Mahia hot on their heels. We were no longer certain of winning the league.
Our next match was against Gor Mahia at kasarani on September 23rd and against my initial decision, decided to attend.
Kasarani, September 23rd: Gor Mahia 2-1 AFC Leopards
I won’t go all emotional on this game, all I can say is we played well and Gor wasted time and in the end we had gone 5 straight matches without a win, and three of them losses. There was talk of firing Koops but it was late in the league with only about 5 matches to go. I think he did get fired but later was reinstated.. I said I won’t talk politics! The game was peaceful although Gor goons ran into the field after the match.
Nakuru, September 30th: Muhoroni Youth 1-2 AFC Leopards
At last we registered a win after a 5 match dry run but already we had lost the grip on the lead of the table and now we struggling like any other team. However, while we struggled with our games, Tusker and Gor seemed to sail through, especially Gor. Not sure what Lugarusic has been telling his players!
Mumias, October 20th: AFC Leopards 2-1 Ulinzi Stars
Our wins were coming in a little too late, but they kept our hopes of winning the league high with only about 3 games to go. I didn’t make it to this match either.
Naivasha, October 27th: Oserian FC 1-3 AFC Leopards
I was at this match and the goal of the match was the free kick that Mang’oli netted, it was a perfect free kick. The hopes of winning the league were revived, even though Tusker and Gor were also demolishing other teams and raising our blood pressure.
Mumias, November 3rd: AFC Leopards 4-2 Mathare United
In summary, we sent the slum boys home packing and kept hoping Gor and Tusker lose their matches so we could breathe but they won their respective matches, making us get ulcers in the process of hoping we’d still win this league. It was like we had awakened but too late, with only one match left and Gor leading the pack, we tied on points with Tusker who did not have a net as leaky as ours (we had conceded more goals even though we had scored the most).
Awendo, November 10th: Chemelil Sugar 1-0 AFC Leopards
We exited the league with a whimper. Like a wounded leopard, in pride mostly, it hurt that we had come sooooo close that we had printed champions on our jerseys only to lose it with some spectacular losses to Gor, KCB, Western Stima, City Stars.. it still hurts.
The only consolation was that Gor Mahia lost the title too. Oh, they can console themselves with the FKF Cup and congratulations for that but still they don’t get the KPL bragging rights. Leave that to Tusker FC. Champions 2011 and now 2012.
For a detailed pre-match and post-match analysis of each game AFC Leopards played last season, please check out the blog Ingwe-Fan.
I look forward to the 2013 season! Here’s to AFC Leopards, ours forever.
First of all, I want to apologize for not having blogged for the past two weeks. These two weeks have just been a blur, had to do exams, settle down at a new job (get your deals at rupu.co.ke) and focus on getting the proposal for master’s thesis ready to be approved which is not as easy as it sounds.
Okay, here are some things I may have wanted to write about but haven’t had time yet:
Mobile Entertainment Africa is a conference takes takes place on the 29th and 30th of August at the 5-star One&Only Hotel in Cape Town and will give attendees the opportunity to gain and exchange knowledge surrounding maximising the entertainment opportunities on handheld devices in Africa.
The event is organized by All Amber, the same guys who organized Mobile Web East Africa that was held in Nairobi some time in February.
After we stumbled towards the end of the first leg of the Kenya Premier League, we recovered our form and we are currently on top of the KPL table with 41 points although Tusker FC are second at 36 points with two games in hand. I however, firmly believe this league cup is ours for the taking, that is why we snobbed side tournaments like the Top 8, handing our enemies, Gor Mahia, a walkover. However, the reason we didn’t attend the match is because the security of fans wasn’t assured (so I’m told, let’s not debate this).
We acquired Paul Were from Tusker FC and Floribert Ndayisaba, a Burundian, to boost our midfield and so far we can’t complain. We set a new record for KPL transfer when we bought (I always feel this buying players thing sounds like human trafficking) Ndayisaba for Ksh 1.3 million.
Our next game is against Thika United on Sunday 12th August, 2012 at Nyayo at 3pm. You are invited. And yes, I’m still attending matches, for those who thought this is just a temporary phase Football is forever.
Lastly, I leave you with a comic to make your evening. Looks like I’m back from my hiatus.
Ingwelets are not just female supporters of the best team in Kenya (AFC Leopards), perhaps the best team in Africa and all of the world. No, they are more than female: they have passion for the team, they go to great lengths to support it, they have a concern for the community in general, and they do it all with swag(ger!)
They have a kind heart for the sad, an encouraging word for a player, a cheer for every goal, a uniform for every match, a shoe for every outfit, a dance for every outing, a warm hug for a fellow sister, a glass of wine for a long journey (e.g. to Mumias for a game), a story to bring laughter, a story to bring hope, a story to reflect upon.
They come from different backgrounds, grew up in different towns, went to different schools, have different accents, but are all united by the love for Ingwe (AFC Leopards) and a compassion for the community.
Apart from just appearing for matches, and in various print and electronic media in uniform as AFC fans, they also carry out Community (as opposed to corporate) Social Responsibility. It’s not just about visiting a children’s home, it’s about leaving an impact wherever you go. And Ingwelets are not easy to forget!
Our President is none other than a vivacious Esther Sugababe, our VP is Bern IngweFirstEleven (the name varies from time to time), and our other officials include Donnah, Rose, Gloria, Pesh, Valencia, Hanii and Mish who serve in various capacities.
If you would like to join us, do not hesitate to leave a comment below and we will get in touch with you. Exciting new activities coming up in the next few months, you do not want to miss out. This is also your chance to get yourself a branded top like mine below that I use as a profile picture on both facebook and twitter
I love being a part of the Ingwelets! Our next roadtrip takes us to Mumias this coming weekend (21st Saturday July) for an AFC Leopards v Karuturi Sports match. Who wants to travel?
This past Sunday, AFC Leopards fans from all branches countrywide, supporters (the CLAWS Trust), officials and players, as well as random spectators and ice cream vendors were gathered at the Railways Club in Nairobi for a fun day for the fans!
There were inter-branch competitions in football, and other games such as the sack race, egg-on-spoon-in-mouth race, tug-of-war, racing (100m dashes) etc. Some of the branches represented included Kawangware Branch, Embakasi Branch, Nakuru Branch, Ingwelets Branch (for the ladies, for which I’m a certified member), Zimmerman Branch, Facebook Branch etc. Each team assembled its best athletes and competitions went on throughout the day with fans watching.
Kids were not left out of the equation: there were bouncing castles for them, and they could also get refreshments at the Ingwelets tent. The Ingwelets tent, for lack of better words, was up there (juu tu sana!) It had everything Ingwelets and Ingwe totos (kids) needed!
I arrived late in the afternoon, to find the last few teams battling for the top spots. I sauntered over to the Ingwelets tent where I was admonished for being late (I profusely apologize) and perhaps next time I’ll get sporty and actually take part in a competition. I met the chairman of the Facebook Branch, Shikuku Kisaka, who finally showed us complete photos of the Ingwe Bus to be unveiled soon! Our players will not have to travel by hired buses anymore!
In the end, the Zimmerman Branch emerged the overall football winners in the men’s category, while Kawangware Branch won in women’s football.
It was a fun fan day! This was crowned by the arrival of the AFC Leopards official squad towards the end of the day, and it was encouraging and exciting to interact with them. They are proceeding to camp in Mumias for the upcoming match against SoNy Sugar in Mumias on 20th. Who is up for a road-trip?! Of course I’m attending the match and if you want to come along, you are most welcome!
Most of the photos above can be credited to sources on the AFC Facebook Branch group.
We are grateful to Claws Trust, the Leopards supporters’ trust that organized the event led by the organizing committee headed by Aidah Bunoro. Read more here.
Harambee Stars was defeated 1-0 by Namibia in the second match of their 2014 World Cup qualifiers in Windhoek, Namibia. Remember we drew our first match at home against Malawi. How Kimanzi and friends (that’s the composition of the national team) can make it to Rio, Brazil 2014 is a miracle. We probably need to pray.
One thing we can improve on next time is to provide a programme of events. Most fans did not know what was happening at what time, so it looked a little bit disorganized. Another thing is the rules of play should have been decided before the games, taking into account all possible outcomes like ties or draws.
Also perhaps labels showing directions to places such as meal places, restrooms, etc. Looking forward to next time.
Eric: How did it feel losing the football match?
Erica: That’s the worst fun I’ve ever had at a football game.
Any football match is fun to be at: the atmosphere there is electric, regardless of the results. It may be boring fun, exciting fun, even the worst fun. I know it may not make sense!
This past Saturday, June 2nd, Kenya’s Harambee Stars and Malawi’s Flames were among the countries taking part in the World Cup qualification matches all over Africa. Kenya is in the same group as Malawi, Nigeria and Namibia. For us to qualify for Brazil 2014, we have to finish top of our group.
I don’t know how to explain football rules to non-football fans (yes, I’m using football because American football is mainly handsy so it should not even be called football and because football is British English which we were taught in school). Sorry I digressed. I’m saying I can’t start explaining the rules to non-football fans, but I can drag you to the next game I will attend so I can explain to you how it’s done live. Just know that when we win, we get 3 points. When we draw, we get 1 point each (the other team also gets a point.) When we lose, we get 0 points.
Others “toklezead”: (I hope you now see the difference between tokea and toklezea)
This is the first round of qualification matches. Kenya will have to play Malawi away (in Malawi), Nigeria both home and away, and Namibia home and away. A home match has the advantage of fans support and familiarity with the turf. We threw two free points away when we played a shoddy game against Malawi.
The match was played at the ‘refurbished’ Kasarani Stadium along Thika Road. (Speaking of Kasarani, why do we still call it Moi International Sports Center? Can we find a more deserving hero for the only international standard stadium in Kenya?). We made our way there, where we found that even by 3pm, the gates weren’t open yet! And the game was beginning at 4pm. Police had a tough time controlling crowds, they were not very organized at Gate 2. We left and tried using another gate that was further away. At least we got settled in before the match.
The stadium does look good. It’s cleaner than the last time I was here, and the lower tier wooden benches have all been replaced with plastic (backless) seats. Which are done in some Orange, blue, yellow colours. Wonder why they didn’t do them in Kenyan colours?! The middle-tier with plastic seats that have a backrest (tickets are a bit more expensive) was looking good as well. The upper-tier is just concrete terraces but the view is still fantastic.
The match was largely boring and uninspiring, Malawi showing signs of brilliance but our goalkeeper (Tusker FC’s Boniface Oluoch) saved us from a number of shots and with some good defending, no goals were scored on either side! Trying to get any action shots from media houses of the match, but finding none as of yet!
In the end, we did enjoy our time at the stadium, but we are still wondering when Kenya will start performing better? When they will ever print the names of the players on classy kit? (the uniform looks like it was picked up from Muthurwa) When Kimanzi will be removed as head coach? etc. Meanwhile, I look forward to the resuming of the Kenya Premier League, which has been on a break. That’s why I haven’t been writing football. Because AFC Leopards has not been playing!
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.
My advice? Do not emotionally over-invest in a team. It can break your heart. Possibly your phone in the process.
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)
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
Matches between these two big football clubs in Kenyan can turn explosive because of the passion of the fans, which can lead to heated exchanges that sometimes end up in stones being thrown!
This is a call for peace! The upcoming match is a KPL fixture first leg, at Nyayo on Sunday March 18th, 3pm! Be there!
Last year, AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia met four times (Two KPL ties, FKL final, and The Inaugural Kibunja Peace Cup). Only one of the matches- FKL final- that had some sort of altercation. That represents a 0.25 chance of chaos. We both know I’d take my chances even on a 100%, but the point here is, LET THERE BE PEACE!!!
Currently quite busy with school, work and maybe a conference or two My weekends are taken up by football.
Come watch the upcoming derby on Sunday March 18th at Nyayo. It features Kenya’s two biggest teams in terms of passionate fan support. I just can’t wait for it. For now, back to reading for an exam or two.