‘Vasha’ comes alive as revellers vroom in for the rally action

World Rally team driven by Lorenzo Bertelli and Co-Driven by Simone Scattolin at Super Stage, Kasarani Stadium ahead of WRC Safari Rally to be held in Naivasha. June 24, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Naivasha or ‘Vasha’, as it is now popularly known among revellers, could easily be among the best places to be on earth today.

The lakeside town is teeming with hundreds of visitors from all corners of the globe, who have descended on it to catch all the action the World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally promises.

The championship has, after a 19-year hiatus, returned to Kenyan soil, and the excitement is palpable.

Among the revellers are the so-called ‘Subaru boys’ roaming every corner of the streets with their turbocharged engines, raising a ruckus and holding wild parties late into the night.

Their acts have inspired “Meme Lords” and Tik Tok gurus who have dug deep into their archives to come up with hilarious clips about their randy adventures in Naivasha.

Utamkasirikia lini twende Vasha (when will you break up with him so we go to Naivasha?)”. A man is portrayed in one of the memes urging a woman to provoke her boyfriend.

Clips showing tents shaking vigorously to depict ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ acts while others showing tipsy revellers enjoying free-flowing tipple are currently breaking the internet.

Yesterday, hundreds of residents thronged entertainment joints and shops in the town to watch President Uhuru Kenyatta flag off the rally cars at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi.

“That’s our own Onkar Rai!” one of the fans exclaimed while craning his neck to watch the live Safari Rally proceedings at a crowded shop within the Naivasha CBD.

The Kabra Sugar Racing ace was the first off the ramp at the KICC.

He was followed by Sobieslaw Zasada, arguably the oldest rallying driver on the planet, who is still going strong behind the wheel at 91 years.

Walter Okello, a boda boda rider, admitted he had been making a killing since the rally spectators started trooping into Naivasha on Monday.

“Business is good. It’s booming,” he told The Standard.

“I used to go home with less than Sh500, but this week my family is eating meat daily. I make Sh3,000 or more every day,” Okello said with glee.

Security is also tight in Naivasha and its outskirts, for all participants, including world champion Sebastien Ogier and the FIA fraternity.

Police, National Youth Service, and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officers, and other field marshals man every corner of ‘Vasha’ streets.

Security has been extended to the various spectator stages with uniformed and plain-cloth police officers at strategic points along the circuit.

As part of Covid-19 containment measures, only ‘accredited’ persons will be allowed into the spectator zones, locking out hundreds of revellers who have started arriving in the town.

This came as the Ministry of Sports issued rally guidelines, banning partying near spectator zones mainly in Hells Gate, Soysambu, and Lodia Farm, where the event will be held.

Earlier, the Ministry of Interior released a Gazette notice identifying major roads to be closed for heavy trucks during the global event.

According to Sports CS Amina Mohammed, they had developed a detailed spectator guide, which would be followed to the letter.

“The attendees will be allowed into the spectator zones two hours to the start of the race and there will be no partying or dancing near the designated spectating zone,” she said.

Amina said only authorised spectators in groups of 20 would be allowed into the spectators zones, with organisers keen to ensure health protocols are fully observed.

“Drivers, rally navigators, and technical personnel will be operating from exclusive high-density areas that are zoned off and inaccessible to guests and members of the public,” she said.

The CS also ordered that entertainment joints be closed by 7pm.

Sam Mwangi, a rally enthusiast, said he was disappointed after learning that only a handful of people would be allowed into the spectator zones.

“All the excitement is on social media, where Naivasha is trending, but things on the ground are different as the full reality sinks in,” he said.

He said the fun lay in watching the cars drive through the dusty and bumpy roads, adding that the new protocols had killed their expectations. 

By AFP 1 hr ago
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