A few weeks ago, the Red Devils made many English Premier League football maniacs in Kenya and around the world very happy when they busted the Blues’ supposed reinvigorated challenge to the league and set themselves for the record 19th win and a possible double with the Champions league final on the way. Like Barca in Spain, the red Devils wanted to wrap up the domestic competition so that all eyes can then turn to the bigger continental prize.
The encounter was filled with numerous ooohs and aaahs that make this “beautiful game” exciting and it will linger on in the memory of many Red Devil fans— yours truly included because of the stakes that were involved. However, and with hindsight, none of these ooohs and aaahs surpass the ones that followed the finals at Wembley.
Like the World Cup, the whole world was watching. I got a text message from my brother in Australia that he was not only the one who was up, but that my niece was up too and rooting for Red Devils. My other brother, Mohamed Wehliye in Saudi Arabia chose to keep mum but I was certain that he would post his thoughts in the social media as soon as the game was over.
He didn’t disappoint because immediately the game ended with the Red Devils having been bamboozled and given an important lesson in the tik-taka game, my brother in Riyadh posted his comments of how the Devils had been embarrassed. Hats off to Barca and particularly their coach Pep Guardiola, who has lifted that cup twice in less than 4-years. When he was picked, pundits pointed out his inexperience and most dismissed him as a novice but he has proved them wrong. Congratulations.
The game was certainly enjoyable to many ManU opponents and the Arsenal fans in particular will not tire from remind us how they had beaten the mighty Barca and that it also required the sending of their Dutch striker for them to lose at the Nou Camp inspite of the statistics saying something different. It is against this background that we went with a friend called Blak— a diehard Gunner to watch the game and oh boy, there is no denying it that we were thrilled.
After the game, there were plenty of interesting things to talk about that game and as the evening wore off, we found ourselves taking a walk down memory lane of the Kenyan soccer scene and even the places where we now frequent to keep abreast with all those matches in the foreign leagues.
Along time ago, we went to the stadium to watch the local lads and there were passionate debates that followed each league game. We did not just talk about the games and old lads, our talk veered to the places where we frequent to watch the games. Nowadays, pubs or bars and hotels have replaced stadiums and Blak pointed out, these meeting joints have drastically transformed from those of yesteryears.
“It is not just the numerous flat screens that have transformed bars,” pointed Blak. “The comical and sometimes parabolic art that defined the walls of the pubs has been replaced by either of football icons from numerous European leagues or fine wall papers with colours that are often referred to as warm and exotic computer generated images.”
There is such a remarkable difference and as we pondered further on it, I couldn’t help taking a walk down memory lane to reminisce on some of the images and/or murals that were drawn on pubs and even hotels especially in the rural area.
The images were often disproportional and one that quickly came to mind was the famous one where a man who had been cutting a tree is suddenly marooned when he is attacked by a king size lion. To avoid being eaten, the man quickly seeks refuge up the very tree he was cutting.
However, things become more complicated when he sees a huge snake slithering towards him. He had been cutting the tree near a river and jumping into the river to avoid being bitten by the snake is a viable option but then a huge man-eating crocodile joins the fray of the creatures keen on having a piece of him. It is a fairy tale dilemma and I remembered the first time I saw it, it generated a serious discussion and all sorts of hypothetical solutions were advanced.
“We often here of musicians who play music by the ear,” Blak said while commenting on this particular mural. “Most of these pieces were done by artists who were certainly talented and painted by the “inner eye” but over and above this, they were keener on the story they were telling than the sizes of the images.”
He continued: “The lion was thrice the size of the man and the tree was not very huge and going by the size of the lion, getting the man wouldn’t have been a problem. A more sane explanation for this kind of approach would be that the images had to be made this big because the artists had a lot of space considering the sizes of the walls. However, the artists pose a problem and like the biblical writing on the wall, the message is clear.”
The stories were hilarious. Some of them like that one of the marooned man were rhetorical questions mixed with parables that often acted as a catalyst of looking at various issues in life.
There is a remarkable difference between the art on walls in modern day pubs and those of yester-years and there are some people who feel that that “crude” yet deep art that posed numerous questions on your face is lost. What do you think?