If you’ve been following my tweets lately you can tell that World Cup fever has set in for me. And it’s not just because I’m living in Johannesburg.
I’ve had a long love affair with football thanks to my late father. You see I was *the* quintessential daddy’s girl (in many ways I’ve inherited both his best and worst traits) and for the first few years of my life I was pretty much attached to his hip…all his workmates at the airport knew me, all the waiters at his favorite drinking spots knew me (especially at the Thorn Tree in the then New Stanley where he liked to have a beer or two in the late afternoon with his fellow night shift airport pals), and all the people close to the AFC Leopards team – of which he was a FANATIC – knew me.
I mean FANATIC, as in following them around during East Africa Central games, as in dancing with the isukuti group in “Russia” (and occasionally “financing them”), as in West End in Nairobi West regular, as in the AFC-Gor games were a major event in our household (…if AFC won that was the best time to ask for stuff that would be vetoed and if Gor won everyone was in bed by 8:00 pm because to call his mood foul was an understatement. He even got stoned in the face once by a Gor fan because he was so out of pocket with his taunting…that was scary.
I remember hanging out in our Mada balcony waving the AFC flag (I had a special mini-one) as the isukuti entourage swept through from Kibera on their way to City Stadium or Nyayo Stadium. For a while I was the unofficial AFC mascot, with my Adidas tracksuit, welcoming them at the airport when they arrived with a regional victory (I need to scour the Daily Nation archives for pictures). When I got older and decided that was cheesy, I still went to games with him, but then stopped because I used to get so panicked about his antics. How a normally reserved serious guy went ballistic in the stadium was beyond me.
I knew the songs, the taunts (anyone remember Asante-Kutoka against Ghana), hated Peter Dawo and Peter “Bassanga” Otieno, and assumed major bragging rights among my peers because JJ Masiga was our next door neighbour and I had shaken Kadenge, Mickey Weche and Mahmoud Abbas’ hand. And yes I watched Football made in Germany, my favorite team was Stuttgart.
One day I guess my father felt he needed to grow up and calm down and he stopped being so crazy, but his love for football and AFC was always there and was passed on to him.
From him I learned how important it was to be passionate and devoted to something no matter what, and what being a true fan was. Something I hope to pass on to the girls (actually I don’t think they have much of a choice between me and their dad).