What you need to know:
- The best part of it is that, just like citizenship by birth, which can never be revoked by the State, being born a Gor Mahia fan is a lifelong privilege
Let’s face it. Kenya is a country that is badly afflicted by tribalism. Our political leaders will dispute this fact, but show me one politician in the current National Assembly, the Senate or even in the Council of Governors who claims not to have been elected on the numerical strength of the native speakers of his or her tribe and I will show you a liar.
In every election cycle these politicians will happily retreat ‘home’ to bribe, coerce, manipulate or even cheat their tribesmen and women out of their votes.
Now, that is negative ethnicity, a malady, which just like grand corruption, has been gnawing at the very soul of this nation since independence. But not everything tribal amounts to tribalism. A majority of the people who call Kenya home, for instance, are largely drawn from a rich cultural mix of more than 40 ethnic groups.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with proudly identifying yourself with any of these tribes. And contrary to public perception, there is nothing shameful in conversing with a fellow tribesman in your mother tongue in public places, even if it’s all Greek to everyone else.
Our Western-borrowed education system has taught us to believe that English and all those other foreign languages they teach kids in schools nowadays are better than our own native dialects. It’s a big fat lie! English, French, Spanish or even Chinese did not fall on our laps from heaven. They are all human inventions, or like native speakers of Dholuo will say gik molos gi lwet dhano.
So where am I going with all this in a football column? The virtues of positive ethnicity that I’m talking about also apply in football, and sports in general for that matter. For the avoidance doubt, I will state the obvious, although my byline already betrays me. I’m Kenyan, Luo and a Gor Mahia fan – by birth. And proudly so. I never chose any of these three aspects of my identity, I was born proudly bearing them.
How so? Well, Article 14 (1) of the Constitution of Kenya states, “A person is a citizen by birth if on the day of the person’s birth, whether or not the person is born in Kenya, either the mother or father of the person is a citizen.”
I was born in Kisumu County, so many years ago, to a Kenyan mother and father, so I meet this basic qualification for citizenship by birth. The same criteria apply for my being a fan of Gor Mahia.
The ‘natural’ fans of this mighty club are born into the K’Ogalo fraternity. Of course a small bit of the club’s fanbase acquire membership through registration or marriage, but the ‘natural’ ones, like yours truly, enjoy all the entitlements of being a Gor Mahia fan without these formal documentations.
The best part of it is that, just like citizenship by birth, which can never be revoked by the State, being born a Gor Mahia fan is a lifelong privilege. You remain one for your lifetime. I don’t know and I really don’t care about what it takes to become a fan of our miserable shemejis and the other Kenyan clubs with only a handful of fans.