I have a cousin called Black. He’s named Black because he’s dark, very dark, like the darkest night you have ever experienced but with the soul of a god. Black’s greatest weakness [the one that can be published] is football. He would start a war and die for Gor Mahia and Arsenal.
Black works in Pokot and last Saturday he showed up at my house and said, "Tomorrow we are going to watch The game.” I said, "What Game?" Manchester and Arsenal were playing. He added that we had to watch it at a place called Harry’s Tavern in Umoja Estate, the Mecca of football, he said.
I like a good story, so I said why not? On our way the following day, we picked his best friend in South B, a crazed Manchester fan. They taunted and ribbed each other the whole way.
I was last in Umoja over 13 years ago and if you are like me it’s not what you imagine it to be. Everything changes; new roads, roundabouts, flats upon flats wedged against each other and throngs of people, blaring horns and boda bodas, kiosks, carwashes, chemists.... Harry’s Tavern itself is an economy on its own.
The entrance was stacked with stalls selling sweet-smelling nyama choma. The lower deck, featuring numerous TV sets, was choked with boisterous patrons. Rhumba music blared from speakers overhead.
Bulky men and women held court around bottles of spirits. People danced. The air was celebratory- and it was only a Sunday.
I thought they’d switch the music off when the match started but they didn’t. Diblo Dibala, Felix Wazekwa, Loketo and Arlus Mabele screeched over the game as the men cheered and roared and danced when a goal was scored. It was a carnival, it was infectious, it was hysterical.
People in the bars I frequent don’t have fun, it dawned on me, they just play to the gallery. They are self-conscious. At Harry’s Tavern, nobody cared about you or your title or what you drank. Nobody cared, period. And there was not a single person in the bar wearing sunglasses. I checked.