Patriotism – What Football Teaches Us by Alffie

Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime – Adlai E. Stevenson

Patriotism is a virtue and an admirable quality in most cases but certainly not in all cases, especially when it employs emotion without the involvement of logic.

When the Uganda Cranes came to town (Nairobi) for a match up against Kenya’s very own Harambee Stars, I could not help but marvel at the dedication of the Uganda Cranes fans who made their way to Nairobi in droves to support their team!

This made me think about how much sports (focus on football or soccer for the Americans) paints a picture of patriotism that a lot of other things could even wish to. So I sought out to get other examples of unique expression of “loyalty” to football teams – clubs of national teams – that could be translated to be expressions of patriotism… and some that are not!

Let me start with the Positives.

ARSENAL (ORLANDO PIRATES by extension)

If you are ashamed to stand by your colors, you had better seek another flag – Author Unknown

These two clubs know what it means by being really good and worth winning a number of times but never really getting it! All the while, the fans exhibit such loyalty and hope that the next time round they will win but… for Arsenal, it’s been 5-6 yrs and still nothing.

You think that’s bad?

Well Orlando Pirates, famous and popular as they are in South Africa, had not won anything in ten years!! WOW! That’s a long time! It consoles Arsenal fans I’m sure to know faith can last that long!!

Orlando Pirates Fans

Lesson: The point here, however is patriotism has a lot to do with loyalty and these fans certainly know loyalty!

AC MILAN AND INTER MILAN

For those who might not be aware, these two great Italian teams share a stadium-the famously known San Siro. And all this time, most of the time at least, the fans of either side have exhibited maturity in keeping their rivalry a pitch affair. Sure there are times emotions run high but they understand that their love for the game supersedes mere emotions.

Lesson: Patriotism also bears with it a sense of consideration to your fellow man with which you share your country.

INTER MILAN (MARIGA)

The MacDonald Mariga, who for obvious reasons has been dubbed “UAP”, joined Inter Milan, in classic Kenyan fashion,matatus went to have body art aka graffiti with number “17” on them and Inter Milan’s number “17 Mariga” was being adorned by every Tom, Dick and Mustapha as a sign of pride in Kenya’s own! It’s not so much Mariga being a Nerazzurri (Inter Milan player) as it is him being Kenyan which goes on to say that if he joined Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, the famous Dortmund Yellow (luminous green) and black will fill the Kenyan streets.

Lesson: Patriotism is stick-to-it-iveness i.e. through hell or high water, recognition or nearing obscurity you remain proud of your own (as long as they are on the right track)

GOR MAHIA

Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious – Oscar Wilde

These are PASSIONATE fans right here! It’s been a while since winning but being the most successful club in the country gives them a voice. In the recent past, K’ogalo and its faithful have raised the bar in football support most notably being their merchandising. Being predominantly of the ‘proud’ community, I hear, adorning ‘fake’ Gor Mahia gear might get you “uprooted” like the railway in Kibera! This dedication and sense of ‘pride’ definitely makes the brand spread and be more authentic.

Lesson: Patriotism is having a sense of pride in one’s own identity so much so coming across the adulteration & corruption of the same by whoever is “enraging” & unacceptable to you.

UGANDA CRANES

The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border? – Pablo Casals

The Uganda cranes fans in Nairobi would have made think there was a migration of some sought! They came in and made their presence known – Nairobi was all yellow, red and black!! They definitely exemplified love for one’s country beyond one’s own borders – even in “enemy” territory.

I must say I love their Uganda Cranes Anthem. Listen here Uganda Cranes anthem is NICE!!

Lesson: Patriotism is love for your country & your own even in a foreign land. Caution however should be applied where necessary!

GHANA

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it – George Bernard Shaw

When Ghana gave Africa hope of being the first African country to make it to the World cup Semi finals, in the face of impossibility, the whole of Africa was behind them. This loyalty however was not born out of ability but more of loyalty to “brotherhood”.

Lesson: Being Patriotic is sometimes like being a romantic; a person in whom logic plays no part of. I should note this is a dangerous form of patriotism but patriotism nonetheless!

CHELSEA

Patriotism knows neither latitude nor longitude. It is not climatic – E.A. Storrs

I’m willing to bet that upwards of 60% of current Chelsea fans were not Chelsea fans 10 years ago! Reason being they for the most part support a team because they win albeit by hook or crook. I’m not saying this is how Chelsea wins but I’m saying Chelsea fans can never be as resilient as Arsenal or Manchester United fans are. They’ll stick with Chelsea as long as they win. If and when they lose, they WILL jump ship!

Lesson: Patriotism is not a matter of convenience; love your country when it’s all good and when it’s bad, strive to make it better.

GENERAL

A lot of fans always seek to demean the other teams when they win as opposed to praising their own! When you win, praise your own, love your own. What is to you that the other team did not win?!

Lesson: Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first – Charles de Gaulle

If you have not got anything from this post, there’s something missing…in you but just to give you a shadow of doubt, I leave you with these:

I think patriotism is like charity – it begins at home – Henry James

It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind – Voltaire

 

Martha aka Thatcher Karua: Is Change Here? by Alffie

After the recent by-election wins for Narc-K in the name on Mike Sonko and Kabogo most of the headlines were all centered on Martha Karua being the new third force. Almost felt like the English Premier league with Chelsea or some inconsequential team breaking into the elite’s club whose members were (still is despite 5 year hiccups of one member) Arsenal and Manchester United.

Predictably, the small issue of  “a running mate” cropped up! For me, this brings a whole new dynamic in Kenyan politics. The Americans have had this practice since they sought democracy but in Kenya, where the notion of democracy is still a foreign concept, this might be tricky for aspiring presidential candidates.

I’ll come right out and say that I’ll vote for Martha W. Karua for reasons I choose not to address here (but will..eventually). I however have a concern in light of the issue of ‘running mate!!’ Who in Narc-K would be suitable to be her running mate..Danson Mungatana? Mike Sonko? Kabogo?…The last two just won their respective constituency battle and are undoubtedly a big plus to the Narc-K fraternity…more significantly for the money they bring in. So in terms of funding…I’m confident that my preferred candidate is well covered.

But I still don’t see a suitable running mate. You might be of the opinion that she joins forces with some other strong individual like Bill Ruto for example..well, mathematically..that would be a good move but I don’t see that happening. At #mindspeak August 2010 edition, the “Iron lady” expressly stated that that kind of politics is one of the things she’s fighting against and so to partake of it would be a blow to her integrity. I was to ask her this question on that #mindspeak edition but I missed that bus.

Martha’s campaign strategy is admirable thus far…interracting with the electorate especially via social media and forums like #mindspeak. Her stand on the new constitution & her defence of the same showed maturity and a grasp at the implications & intepretations of the then draft constitution that few even dared to exhibit. I remember the first question that was addressed to her at #mindspeak was “Have you ever been corrupt?” to which she answered.. “No!” Whether or not that is true I can’t tell but her confidence in that answer under no pressure whatsoever spoke volumes to me and the audience as a whole. These are some of the reasons I’ve in a matter of speaking already picked her as my candidate of choice. Another reason would be that she’s not from a political ‘dynasty’ as it is with most of the other probable candidates save maybe for Bifwoli Wakoli & maybe Bill Ruto (not sure about this though).

I find her more principled than the other politicians but therein lies the potential problem. Anyone who she picks as a running mate would most likely tarnish her campaign as she has set to high a standard. The recent Kabogo-Sonko wins are good for Narc-K and her presidential bid probably but I still believe the choice of running mate would make a very big difference especially for her..

So the question still stands: Who will be her running mate? Do I think she can win? I really do think she can & so does she. Will she win?..For that we’ll have to hope the Mayan 2012 prophesy isn’t true as we wait to see.