Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Let's try a ban now.

Kipsang. Ketany. Sumgong. When the rest of the marathon field sees their names, do they weep in despair? Do their hearts sink a little knowing that the hi-tech training regimen, the overwrought nutrition guidelines and the prayers to all the known gods are in vain? Kipsan, Keitany and Sumgong blew away the field in New York to win in that city's signature marathon. They brought glory to themselves and to the long-distance running traditions of this fair land - despite the very best efforts of Athletics Kenya.

Gor Mahia. AFC Leopards. Two names that send a shudder down your entire body. They may have their devoted and dedicated fans - K'Ogalo aka the KDF aka the Green Army for the former; Ingwe for the latter - but no one in his right mind entertains a visit to the City or Nyayo stadium, or any stadium for that matter, when the mashemeji are playing, especially when they are playing each other. The two football teams have a reputation that has survived Baba Moi and Baba Jimmi and will surely survive #TeamDigital - fanatical hooliganism.

The destruction of property associated with a loss - or a win - of the K'Ogalo or the Ingwe is astonishing. Their utter lack of remorse is more so, especially as we are constantly reminded of the humaneness of Kenyans in general. I suppose that every rule has an exception and the K'Ogalo and Ingwe are the exception that proves the rule of Kenyans' humaneness. Five years after the deaths of football spectators at another Nyayo Stadium clash between the mashemeji and Ambrose Rachier and his Ingwe counterpart Allan Kasavuli are yet to instil a sense of responsibility in their hundreds of dedicated fans whose passions sometimes get the better of them.

Prayer, obviously, has not helped. Neither, it seems, has the pain and suffering innocent bystanders undergo whenever the Green Army or its perennial bete noir feels miffed about something to do with a win or a loss. Year after year, the story remains the same - whether the tow are up or not, their fanatical hooligan fans will ensure that their presence is felt on the streets of each and every town that is foolishly audacious to host them. Banning them from the terraces whenever their teams play seems not to temper their violent enthusiasms; rather it only seems to bottle it up ready for the next opportunity to erupt with passionate intensity.

Solutions are not presenting themselves save the obvious: ban the clubs altogether. They may be a source of employment to many youthful men, and they may generate revenues in the hundreds of millions of shillings, but the billions of shillings in property damage attributed to the clubs and their fanatical hooligan fans are yet to be reclaimed in any serious fashion. It is time they were erased from the public sphere, their managers banned from football for a decade, and their players scattered to the four winds of Kenyan football, away from the mad passions of their hooligan fans.

Of course there are those constitutional whingers who will argue that the K'Ogalo and Ingwe are being denied their right to associate with whomever they wish. I will counter that so lone as you are associating with each other for peaceable purposes, I will respect your constitutional rights, even defend them. But when your associating leads to funerals, orthopaedic surgery and insurance claims in the hundreds of millions of shillings that threaten to bring down insurance companies, I will lead the fight in declaring your association to be  terrorist association at worst and a criminal organisation at least. The Mungiki had the good sense to behead people who refused to pay their "protection" fees; K'Ogalo and Ingwe are indiscriminate in whom they target for their misplaced wrath.

Before you argue that K'Ogalo and Ingwe are cultural bastions that should be reformed rather than destroyed, remember that their hooliganism has been a staple of the dysfunction in Kenyan football for twenty five years. I think we have had enough of that particular culture. It is time we started stamping out the culture of violence in our nation's social fabric. If we are to tackle the other cultural hooligans - cattle rustlers, female genital mutilators, wife inheritors, political chauvinists, child abusers, sexual predators - we might as well begin with shibboleths that have for long operated as if thy are protected by the Lord Almighty from On High from the consequences of their violent fans' actions.

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