Monday, February 6, 2012

Two mzungus walk into a bar...

Nicole and I last week decided that we ought to go and watch some of the African Cup of Nations games before the tournament ended. I asked some of the guys from the MTV workshop to recommend good places to watch soccer in Nairobi and based on their advice we set off to K1 or Klubhouse as it is variously referred to. Soccer is the favourite sport in Kenya by far both in terms of numbers playing the game, and people who support and watch it. The Premiership is extremely popular, and most people you talk to here will be a supporter of Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea etc but the Harambee Stars (as the Kenyan national team is nicknamed) are also well followed. Sadly, they didn't qualify for the Cup of Nations this year, nor did any team from East Africa except for Sudan.

When we arrived we were super impressed by the bar. Actually in reality it was 3 or 4 separate bars in an inter-connected complex with easily 30 TVs, including two enormous cinema sized screens. Fantastic, we thought, this is the perfect place to watch the barn-burner that was going to be the Gabon Mali AfCoN quarter-finals! It even had the Ireland Wales Six Nations game showing on a couple of the screens. I was delighted with myself. Yet, as it got closer to kick-off time none of the screens seemed to be showing the pre-game build up. They were instead showing the pre-match commentary for the Chelsea vs. Manchester United Premiership game. Reassured by my friend Arnold, that they would definitely switch some of the screens to the Gabon game, we asked a waitress in which section of the bar they would be putting on our match. The poor waitress seemed confused at first but then said she would put the Gabon game on in a corner for us, so as not to disturb the other customers! We duly followed her to the furthest reach of the bar, where she struggled for a few minutes to find our preferred match (buried on Super Sports 4).

No sooner had she found the African match and we'd watched 30 seconds when it switched over to the Six Nations. Apparently our TV was linked to some of the other TVs and she'd had a complaint from someone who was keen to watch the Ireland game! She set about isolating our telly and so 15 minutes into the game we finally got to watch Gabon vs Mali. And there we sat for the evening, two white girls watching an African Cup of Nations game

In the end it was not much of a spectacle, with Mali emerging the winners after a penalty shoot-out. And in reality, we did spend some of our time craning our necks to watch the six goals of the Chelsea/Man U game.

And that's how two mzungus ended up exiled in the corner of a Nairobi sports bar watching Gabon vs. Mali while the hundreds of other patrons of the bar watched Chelsea vs. Manchester United.

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