I remember like it was yesterday. The date, 31 January 2015 – a warm Saturday and I had woken up with a start. All week I had been planning to attend the SportPesa festival. The big day was finally here – 14 of Kenya’s biggest artists all together at the Carnivore grounds starting from 10AM to 6PM. I’m talking Wyre, STL, Nameless, Juacali, Bahati, Size 8, Khaligraph Jones, Kristoff, DJ’s Pierra Makena, Joe Mfalme, Crème De la Crème, DJ Mo joined by Jalang’o and Eric Omondi. Wuh!!

However, I had to go to work first. I’m a journalist and stories need to be written on Saturday morning. Besides, I enjoyed the fame and vanity in the form of comments and calls I’d been receiving from readers. I’m not alone on this.

Right then, took a quick bath, dressed up in a jiffy and ran to grab my favorite matatu, Catalyst. It was co-incidentally parked outside my apartment’s front, patiently waiting on customers who might board it from the newly installed Cabro tiles that my landlord was always proud of. For those who’ve already guessed it, yes I lived in Rongai at the time.

Catalyst was actually the biggest ‘nganya’ and that slim rugged conductor, Maish, was my boy. Okay, okay …he was almost my boy. I admit that I never once took a ride for free. I really wonder what ever became of him and his ambitions of starting a taxi business.

Catalyst - Rongai Matatu
Catalyst – Rongai Matatu

Boarding the matatu with a spring in my step, Maish immediately shouted “Tuthie dere”, before I sat down and the matatu sped off. There were just 3 empty seats so I took the pleasure of the back bench atop the subwoofer. My innards were soon rattled by the bassline from Alpha Blondy’s Brigadier Samare, a childhood favorite for many Kenyans born in the 80’s.

We took a record 20 minutes to get to town. It must have been the driver’s navigation skills because there seemed to be some traffic on Lang’ata road and at the Nyayo stadium roundabout. How he did it, I haven’t the slightest idea. This was to my advantage, however. The sooner I got to the office, the better.

I hopped on to a boda boda along Tom Mboya street and arrived at Westlands in 10 minutes. Rushed in to office and sat at my desk to do my weekly morning article on the analysis of the day’s Premier League matches. I could feel people waiting for me with baited breath as I gave well researched advice on who to place a wager on.

“Man Utd vs Leicester – predicting a win for The Red Devils; Westbrom vs Tottenham – a win for The Spurs; Stoke vs QPR – a win for the Potters …and of course the big one, Chelsea vs Manchester city – predicting a draw.”

“Finished!” I sighed to myself after typing a four hundred word article that ended with that paragraph. I published it and shared the link on Social Media and then headed to have some hot masala tea with cinnamon mandazi. It was now 9AM and my anxiety began to take over me. I still had a few reports to do yet the concert was to start at 10AM. At least I had bought the tickets through the 79079 SMS shortcode. Postponing would have been a bad choice. My choice to struggle with the work up to 10.30AM proved wise because then stormed out of the office without thinking about next week. I now had Size 8, Khaligraph Jones, Kristoff, Nameless, Juacali and my girlfriend on my mind.

Took a matatu to town and connected another to Lang’ata and on the road, took another boda boda for 50/= bob to the entrance. The music was bumping and of course, I was already dancing. Leave alone the fact that I was 2 hours late. It didn’t matter.

Met with my girlfriend at the Carnivore grounds soon after and we hung out and danced as we took turns to snap selfies. We also ate quite well. The food vendors were not in short supply.

All that has a beginning has an end and all’s well that ends well. Suffice to say the event was proper. I wanted to stay on and watch Chelsea vs City but I had to escort my girlfriend home. She stayed in Buru Buru and she wanted me to go all the way with her and “drop her at the gate”. A request I had to oblige even if we were using public transport.

By the time I was getting back to town from the long ride, I was rather tired so I opted to go home and livestream the match. On getting to my house gate, I reached to my pocket for my housekey. It wasn’t there! I checked everywhere – my other trouser pockets, my socks, my shirt pocket nothing! This was going to be a long night.

I called my girlfriend and explained to her my situation and all she could do was wish me luck because she stayed with her parents. No way she would have accommodated me. Dejected, I walked to the main gate of the estate to the gatekeeper’s shed. He was a jovial fellow and he had a radio tuned in to Radio Jambo. He was waiting for the big game to start in 10 minutes.

“Nini mbaya?”, he inquired.

“Nimepoteza key ya hao. Sasa sijui niende nidoz kwa ofisi halafu kesho nitafute caretaker asubuhi”, I replied.

“Usijali, at least uko hai. Si nikupatie chai kidogo. Iko strungi hapa na KDF moja ukitaka”, he responded with a soft tone

We shared in his night snack and then he told me about his hard time deciding on the night’s match. He wanted to place a bet but didn’t know what would have been wise.

“Jelsea ama Manjesta City. Unaona vipi?” he asked. I could tell that his accent had kicked in because he was nervous about the bet. the game was to start in 10 minutes. Little did he know that he had activated me.

“Boss, hii match itaisha draw. Hizi team mbili zinaenda kucheza mpira ya kuogopa kwasababu watakuwa careful.” I told him.

“Una hakika vane? Unajua hiyo odd ni kubwa na mimi sijazoea kuweka draw.” he responded quickly.

“Pesa ngapi uko nazo kwa account ya SportPesa?” I inquired

“I havu aroundi 7,500. Nilishindeko mulitibeti lasti wikend na leo pia, ati listi Evertoni, Mani U na Tottenihamu wameshinda na nimeingisa kakitu”

“Yesss!! …errr, oh, I mean. Ah! Ok, wameshinda? Hiyo ni poa sana!” I said, trying to hide my excitement that my predictions had come through.

“Fanya hivi boss,” I continued, “Si umenipatia chai na mandazi ya KDF? Wewe weka bet ya draw ya 3,000/= na nitakaa hapa tuskize hii game pamoja.”

KDF Mandazi
KDF Mandazi

The rest, as they say, is history. My gatekeeper won the bet as Chelsea drew 1-1 with Man. City. He had tripled his wager and he sent me a cool 3,000/= on my MPesa after withdrawing to his account. I used it wisely and took a lodging where I slept like a baby and woke up the next day to go straight to the caretaker and got my extra key.

We’ve been great friends with the gatekeeper ever since and soon, we’ll be doing the SportPesa megajackpot.

Watch this space!