At thirty minutes before game-time, there were only a few seats left in the front. Over four hundred fans had crowded under a tent in the parking lot of a local bar to watch England and the USA play their first world cup game. Four hundred people on bleachers and plastic chairs, armed with vuvuzelas, whistles, soccer shirts, and beers. Waitresses sporting yellow / green shirts and neon-rainbow, mohawk wigs kept them supplied. Three massive screens (at least 9’x6′ each) ensured everyone could see the action from any angle, and the blasts from the vuvuzelas matched the drone from the stadium crowd gathered a half continent away. Africa United? Certainly, if by nothing else than the thunderous call to stand and be heard.
In a crowd full of Kenyans (mostly men), for a game between England and the US, who would cheer what and for whom? Most Kenyans are crazy about the English clubs, and this team has some those top club players on it. But then … there is the O-factor. Obama is part Kenyan after all, and the US is an underdog team.
I barely heard the opening strains of “God save the Queen.” A small handful of fans stood from their seats and sung along with gusto. The rest cheered or talked loudly over the sound system. I didn’t hear the “Star Spangled Banner” at all. As I stood along with 20 or 30 other cheering fans with their blasting vuvuzelas, and as I watched the lips of the players on the field, I thought: “Wait, how does it go?” Such a din. Chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” and “O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!” cheers, whistles, and horn-blasts rang out for next two hours. England played hard but the US would not go down without a fight. And though the American point was the result of a mistake, I think only a rare few amongst this crowd went home disgruntled by the 1-1 score.