A group of men claim, “We are the government”. They are breathing and panting heavily. The police officer hesitates then responds In a stereotypical tone, “ leta yeye hapa” individual who hurled a water bottle at the assistant referee during Gor Mahia’s barren draw with Anse Reunion at the Nyayo National Stadium.
An extraordinary act when you consider the dreaded tag of hooliganism that has become synonymous with ‘Kogalo’ fans. Fan violence has become a recurring theme whenever Gor Mahia is involved. Nevertheless, this ‘purity of conscience’ was a breath of fresh air and a commendable effort.
This act just exhibited the underlying feeling among Kenyans. We all want peaceful elections especially now that the political atmosphere has reached fever pitch. We are experiencing a time when the term ‘peace’ is carelessly thrown around with reckless abandon. Our leaders political fires.
Politics dictates that we are and should be divided but sports has often provided evidence to the contrary. When faced with a negative situation, football sent a clear message to our leaders. You can use sports as a unifying entity and pave the road to lasting harmony. From the pre-match handshakes to the swapping of shirts at the end of the game, football engulfs everyone in a ‘blanket of peace’.
Unfortunately, the scenario at the Nyayo National Stadium was treated as a sideshow rather than a point of reference by the media. Do not get me wrong, we should not condone any form of violence. Neither should we tolerate those who perpetrate it.
The country’s most wild and unruly fans are going out of their way in ejecting a ‘rogue yob’ who in normal circumstances, would have succeeded in creating a fully blown riot and mindless destruction. Surely, there is something wrong…or right with this picture. When football’s reputation needed rescuing, they were there at its defense providing the most heroic labor.
Taking the moral high ground and refusing to provide plenty of fodder for the cynics. As we head to the polls, there is legitimate fear that the country will plunge into chaos and backtrack all the gains that we have amassed in the last few years. Let us not lose sight of what really matters. Sports has the ability to foster unity and peace in a country that has been divided and separated by elitism, cultural differences and tribal groupings. We have felt like our A(bring him here).The men suddenly calm down and hands over a mercilessly beaten have failed to translate peace rhetoric into action. Their utterances only stoke emotions and country’s discourse has deteriorated to new lows as politicians portray us, as this deeply divided and vitriolic lot of ‘our tribe versus theirs’. Through sports, we can unite as one spirit that we are.
We should not let our hopes obscure reality by thinking that all will be well. A small group of ardent football enthusiasts made the news for sparing some time for peace. As a collective unit, we can make history by shunning violence in all its manifestations and latent forms.