Tuesday, June 15, 2010


The world cup is here and there are a few things I expected to find that would make it “proudly African”.

We know it’s a global event and it is therefore expected to adhere to international standards but it is our world cup right?

We have used the vuvuzela to make the global event even African, meaning nothing can stop us from applying African nuances to it. Time, for instance. I don’t understand this funny business of matches starting on scheduled time.

Why do you think they say “African time” when referring to people who are late? This is something we have perfected over the years. Why should we lose it just because England, Italy and America are here? They are our guests, they have to play by our rules.

I want a scenario where the referee arrives at a match 30 minutes late, saunters to the centre of the field, looks at his watch and says: “Boss, hiyo traffic leo ni mwenda. Mmepitia wapi nyinyi?” (That traffic is crazy, how did you guys manage?”) He should do this knowing very well that the roads have been closed for the benefit of teams and officials . Just as he is about to start the match, he gets word that one of the goalkeepers is late.

Everybody is on their phones trying to reach him but he is “mteja”. The keeper shuffles in after one hour looking amazed at what time it is. The ref is now so pissed you would think he slept at the stadium. “I didn’t expect the kick off so early?” he protests.

If the game is supposed to start at 4pm, it starts at 6pm or is altogether cancelled until the next day. You can imagine England and their timekeeping culture getting to the stadium at 2pm, two hours before kickoff only to find an empty stadium.

Worse, even the stadium keeper, the guy with the keys is not around. So they try raising the African World Cup officials and their phones are off. Whenever they ask passersby what happened to the match, they are met with: “What match? Ohh, that one, if it has not started by now, maybe tomorrow.” Rooney and Co cannot believe it but it looks like they are the only one who did not get the memo.

During the match, preferably just before a penalty is taken, it is very ok for a boy to cut across the field, phone in hand yelling “Daddy, it's mum, where did you keep the bedroom keys?” The embarrassed ref, excuses himself and takes the phone and can be heard saying: “Under that Safaricom rug .” After an eternity, he returns and the game continues.

Since when did Africans play football in a “carpeted” area? This green I am seeing is not African. If we wanted an African team to advance, we would have let the grass grow with cows grazing on either side of the pitch.

What is a referee doing with a whistle? Give the damn guy a vuvuzela, secure it on his back like a rifle and let him run around with it. You can imagine when he is blowing to signal a penalty.

He stops, retracts his vuvuzela and blows it as much as possible, gesturing wildly. I doubt the players who are complaining they can’t hear the whistles will have no problem with the vuvuzela.

In a perfect world, that is how a truly African World Cup should have been. But then again, if horses were wishes, they would trample on the dreamers.


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