Fifa World Cup: Arap Uria leads lucky fans to Doha

Meshack Kiptoo Biwott

Meshack Kiptoo Biwott, popularly known by his fans as Arap Uria, during the interview at Nation Centre on April 6, 2022.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Excited Kenyans ready to savour great moments watching Fifa World Cup matches live from stadiums
  • Meshack Kiptoo Biwott  also looks forward to meeting Peter Drury – an English football commentator he has always mimicked

He mimicked well-known personalities and football commentators and amassed a following, curving a niche so unique for himself.

It was a culmination of more than two years of hard work to perfect his art of lip-syncing. And now, Arap Uria, as Meshack Kiptoo Biwott is known by his fan base, will be travelling to Qatar to watch the Fifa World Cup live!

It will be his first time leaving Nairobi for the Gulf nation – the host country for this year’s Fifa World Cup. He has always watched football on the television but will this time be in the stadium for a live game.

“It will also be my first time watching a game in a big, world-class stadium,” he said.

He’ll travel on December 1 for the Uruguay vs Ghana match to be played on December 2. He is sponsored by Betika, a betting firm, which, like several other organisations, has sponsored other people for various games.

He hopes to enjoy the experience. But he also looks forward to meeting Peter Drury – a man he has always mimicked. A man he calls his role model.

Earlier this year, South African pay television channel SuperSport hosted him in a SuperSport Football's Premier League Live show when he would be on the same call with Peter Drury, considered the world’s top English football commentator.

“I had never thought that such a moment would come when my icon, Peter Drury, would praise my work, and refer to me by my name, Arap Uria.”

He says for the trip, his travel pack will have a sieve, a coil and four mugs, props he uses to imitate microphones and earphones that commentators use for live broadcasts. The bag will also have the powder that he uses for propping, along with his acting attire.

“I will carry these tools of trade that catapulted me to stardom. I am looking to meeting and mingling with my fans too on the other side of the world,” he told Saturday Nation.

Beryl Oketch (football manager, 33):

I’m already in Qatar awaiting the action to begin from tomorrow. I arrived here on November 14. I’m here mostly as a football fanatic and secondly as a member of the Fifa Fan Movement. I will be working as a spectator supervisor at the Al Bayt Stadium.  

My work starts on Sunday when hosts Qatar take on Ecuador in the opening match.  This will be my first time to watch a live World Cup match.

For the love of the game, I applied for a visa as early as December 2021 just to be sure that I don’t miss anything. I so wanted to tick this experience off my bucket list. For one to be allowed here, you need to have Good Conduct and Covid-19 PCR certificates. The experience I have had so far is enthralling; everything I dreamt of is right in front of me. I’m hosted by a friend for all that period.
My stay here will end on December 23 when the World Cup ends.

Interview by Geoffrey Anene

 Kiarie Mbugua (34, security official):

I left for Qatar on November 13 in the evening. I had planned to leave for Qatar after qualifying as a Fifa volunteer on August 31.

As a passionate football fan and stakeholder of the game, it is a dream to be part of this historic moment. This was my drive.

I came here alone. My air ticket was sponsored by our Kenyan international midfielder Victor Wanyama. After securing the opportunity, I informed Wanyama that I was nominated to be part of the Fifa volunteer team but at my expense.

He chipped in without a blink. I did not have problems getting accommodation, which is being offered by Fifa.

However, I chose to stay with my classmates, Moses Biamah and Justus Keya, who work and reside here. Communication hasn't been a problem because the majority of people here are conversing in English, though not that fluent.

My stay here is for the period of the World Cup, though my visa is expiring in March next year.

This is my first time going to a World Cup. I had the same opportunity in 2018 but lacked an air ticket.

I must bring home jerseys as my souvenir.

My Mother, Mama Shiko, has to get her wish from here, anything of her choice.
My good friend Victor Rops, who gave me this lead, has to get the jersey of his favourite team.

Interview by Geoffrey Anene


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