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SPORTS

Local football matches a haven for drug abuse, peddlers

SPORTS
By Elvince Joshua | March 19th 2022 | 3 min read

‘Ras’ has been struggling to pay his bills since the first case of Covid -19 was reported here in December 2019.

Also known in and around local football circles as “Mkono Moja” or “Chemist”, Ras is not your ordinary football fan. In fact, most people say that he has never bought a ticket to watch a football match even though he is always in the stadium.

But those who claim to know him well say Ras is not a football fan but a ‘businessman’ who operates on the peripheries of stadia.

Ras, a short form for ‘Rasta’ acquired his “Mkono Moja” alias from clients, some who claim that they have never seen his left hand.

“Ako na mikono zote but hiyo ingine ni ‘mysterious’ hand. Hiyo ndio mlango ya ‘Chemist’ (he has two hands, but the hidden one is what he uses to carry drugs)” claims another source.

All our three sources claim Ras is a peddler, but to most fans, Ras is a ‘vendor’ who walks around hawking sweets, groundnuts and chewing gum during match days.

What most people don’t know is that ‘Ras’ is the chief stadium weed supplier, running a web known in street lingo as ‘Chemist’. Instead of a physical location where his customers walk in and out to purchase stuff, the ‘smart-brother- gang’ peddle the drugs at major sporting events.

Locally, no sporting discipline provides a conducive environment for the illegal trade of hard drugs like football.

To get a clear picture of how lucrative Ras’ business used to be, all you need to do is attend a local match and secure a seat on the ‘Russia’ section of the stadium.

Usually, ‘Russia’ refers to the side opposite the main dais (VIP). This area, mostly populated by holders of the cheapest tickets, is a haven of drug abuse.

“When you sit on the terraces, you end up smoking more bangi than the real smokers...this must stop, or we’ll all have lung cancer or worse. Wavute hizo dawa yao kwa choo,” Onyango ‘Nyarwath’ Jack, a Gor Mahia die-hard fan once lamented on Facebook.

But Ras is no longer rolling in the dough, thanks to Covid–19 restrictions that banned fans.

“Fans warudi stadia (we need fans back to the stadium),” Ras told Nairobian without giving any justification why fans should be allowed back.

He then hung up and switched off his phone. He however insisted that “biashara ni mbaya” (business is doing badly).

“I can’t even afford to pay my rent,” Ras, who lives along Jogoo Road, said.

It took a lot of convincing to have him speak about his trade. The condition was that we keep his identity as mysterious as his operations in and around the stadium.

While we could not independently verify that ‘Ras’ is a peddler, bhang smoking inside stadiums is an open secret.

Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards matches are notorious, because their games are often well-attended.

The big, rowdy crowds provide a perfect cover for fans to puff weed, sometimes in the glare of helpless cops.

Jack Odeny, a fan, blames authorities for the increased abuse of drugs in stadiums.

“I don’t understand why the police allow fans to smoke bhang and then hurl unprintable insults all over the place.”

While bhang smoking reduced at local games during the Covid period, easing of restrictions by the Ministry of Health last week has seen a significant rise in consumption of the hard drugs.

A case in point was last weekend’s match between AFC Leopards and Sofa paka.

Langata OCPD Benjamin Mwanthi, however, said he has never received reports related to drug abuse in the stadium.

“I’ve been here (Lang’ata) for just one year, though fans were not allowed in the stadium. I guess that’s why we’ve never recorded any case,” added the police boss.

But while police may not have recorded arrests related to drug abuse in the stadium, the vice is rampant.

One of the reasons why the police always turn a blind eye could be to avert potential crowd trouble by avoiding direct confrontation with the rowdy fans.

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