From Arigi to Apingo, a tale of cheerful touchline jesters

Allan Makana, who alleges  be late former President Mwai Kibaki’s grandson, was arrested for disrupting prayers service during Kibaki's requiem mass.

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  • Many years later, Arigi would reinvent himself into an accomplished rugby photographer with an unshakable loyalty to the globetrotting Kenya 7s rugby team.   

It’s been two weeks since we lost our nation’s third president, Emilio Mwai Kibaki, and as I reflect on the mourning and tributes that followed his death, one incident remains etched in my mind.

This relatively young man from Western Kenya who offered some comic relief to an otherwise somber occasion during the public viewing of the former president’s body at Parliament Building.

Refusing to join the viewing queue, the bare-chested youth wept uncontrollably as he engaged the security officers with an impassioned plea to be granted express access to the body. In his own words, he wanted to be given “a chance to go look for (sic) the body.”

Needless to say, the officers were in no mood for “jokes” and having run out of patience gave him a little rough handling.

Amidst the mourning, this rather comical incident reminded me of pitch side antics that I have witnessed as a sports fan and writer.

Even though a sports event evokes different emotions from those of viewing the body of a deceased loved one, the theatric sideshow by the self-proclaimed grandson of Kibaki was not too dissimilar to a fan’s buffoonery.

Those who watched University of Nairobi’s once mighty rugby team Mean Machine during its heyday in the 90s will recall a notably loud fan who was ever present at their matches. This not so gentle man, who went by the name Arigi, was no ordinary fan.

He had a knack for engaging fans of rival teams in endless banter that often degenerated into a not so friendly battle of witty jibes.

One such incident pitted Arigi against a duo of Nakuru RFC fans at the 1997 edition of the Great Rift 10 Aside tournament at the Nakuru Athletic Club.

This loquacious duo was going around the field singing praises of their team. Their noisy and merry lap was brought to an abrupt halt at Mean Machine’s fans’ section of the terraces where Arigi was at his element.

Not one to be outdone, he did not hesitate to taunt and deride the cheerful pair. The rib-tickling mchongoano face-off that ensued only ended when the duo surrendered and retreated to the opposite end of the ground.

What was curious about Arigi is that he was very different from his typical 'opponent’. At the time, he was a Fifth Year Mechanical Engineering student with an arguably privileged background, yet he had no qualms rolling in the mud with his riff-Raff opponents.

Many years later, Arigi would reinvent himself into an accomplished rugby photographer with an unshakable loyalty to the globetrotting Kenya 7s rugby team.   

Then there is the wacky case of Apingo Nyawawa. His name carries legend-like status in Gor Mahia folklore.

Not many who watched K'Ogalo in the 80s at City Stadium, where Apingo was like a permanent fixture, knew his real name. But few can forget the argumentative storytelling that he was famous for during those matches.

Apingo was notorious for serving his fellow fans a deluge of misinformation right in the middle of tense action on the playing field. It didn’t help that he was an inveterate stammerer who took forever to make his point. Yet, a Gor Mahia match was never the same without Apingo on the terraces.

Life is serious ‘business’ but we can all do with some comic relief; be it at graveside or pitch side.

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