Yesterday I stood up someone, just a friend. She and I were supposed to go to Ngong Hills on Saturday but something came up and we couldn’t. She was furious. I called her and explained the situation promising to make it up to her on Sunday by taking her to watch Kenya’s Harambee Stars take on Ethiopia in the AFCON qualification match. It was a must win for our national football team, since the first leg in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last weekend ended in a draw, and they didn’t disappoint us. Thrashed the visitors 3-0 to lead group F and qualify.
And they had enough reasons to win, putting in consideration the number of incentives they had been promised by different stakeholders. First, entry was free for the fans and second, buses were unleashed to ferry fans from different corners of the city to fill up the Kasarani Stadium and last the team had been promised ksh. 50M if they win.
I knew she wasn’t that much of a football fan and I thought it wasn’t such a nice idea taking her to that stadium especially after they had done away with the entry fee. I knew now every Tom, Dick and Harry would be there and that would be dangerous. Obviously there would be hooligans — mostly Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards fanatics. But I still insisted, I was desperate. I was ready for anything as long as it would cheer her up. She said she would think about it. At the same time I couldn’t miss to see those beautiful Ethiopian women coming in to support their team.
This morning I called her and she said we meet up at noon. On my way to the meeting point, I fall asleep in the matatu and found myself in the city center and I had to walk all the way back only to find out she had wandered deep into the Gikomba Market. I’m never fond of that particular market. I followed her up in the burning sun, sweating like I was under a spell.
Being a Sunday, like usual it was overcrowded, filled to capacity with traders and their merchandise and shoppers. There was hardly a space to move your feet and you had to force your way through bodies, sometimes bumping into angry folks and sometimes pushing over helpless women who will follow you with venomous insults. You have to vanish as fast as you can, and at the same time watching out for the traders merchandise on the roadside. You step on that and be sure you’ll be ruffled up, and you’ll have to pay for any damage caused.
The noise is deafening. Hundreds of traders, each shouting on top of his voice in an effort to attract customers. Don’t forget the customers too are speaking, trying to bargain for goods. Children on their sides will be crying out of confusion — I wonder what their parents were thinking taking them to such a place in the first place.
I did find my friend, deep inside the stalls sampling clothes, surrounded by vulture like guys. I stopped at a distance and just watched how she was enjoying all the attention. She looked happy.
“Madam, this one fits you better!” Said one trader handing her a damaged — tattered from the thighs all the way to the knees — blue pair of jeans.
“Na hii madam?” Called out another.
When I got to where she was, she dropped all the clothes she had in her hands and hugged me, and from that moment I knew I was in trouble. Obviously I was the one paying for the clothes, which I did. Remember I wanted her to forget about the whole Ngong thing. She got me something too, a cap. Saw me looking at this cap with the word, “Rebel” and asked if I liked it. I nodded my head like an obedient child and she asked me to put it on. She paid for it and we left, for home.
You can check out the following photos I took with my phone. No personal photos, just of random activities at the market. We never made it to the stadium but actually don’t regret it. People came back happy with the national team’s results but also with tears in their eyes from the police teargas. I knew the hooligans would never disappoint.
I got something too. REBEL8
“And this coming December no stress travelling upcountry. Got the bag now.”
“Toilet at 5 shillings only.”
“We have electronics too.”
“Let’s see if this thing will stand the wind.”
“I thought I placed the money here!”
“Water for the thirsty.”
“Let’s see if we will get the item darling.”
“And the boss lady finally forgot Ngong, hoped so.”
“How much did you say for that pair trousers?”
“When are we getting home mommy?”
“Shopping bags in plenty. Enough for everyone.”
“Lets if we can find anything of value here!”
“Shoes and weave for slayqueens.“
“Hey ladies, I need some space to check out the goods too!”
“And this size is perfect.”
“Let me check out her cereals.”
“Yo. Mzae kuwa mpole na nduthi! Ata hii yangu ni gari!”
“Where the hell are the customers. The transporter at your service.”
“Some brassieres for ladies and some boxers for men.”
“Nani yuko hapa?”
“And now is time to go home. Got my bag full.”
“And what about this one here madam?”
“Let me see this pair of shoes.”
“Well, this Arsenal Jersey can fit my husband.”