KENYAN FOOTBALLERS NEED TO INTROSPECT: LESSONS LEARNT FROM GEORGE ‘JOJO’ WAWERU (AND OTHERS)

It was the 2019 AFCON qualifiers games last week, and we were up against Ethiopia. We desperately needed to beat them in order to have a shot at qualifying for the tournament.

The first leg of the fixture was in Ethiopia, with both teams unable to score. The game ended in a barren draw, and I for one could feel my heart sink.

What if the Wallas managed to beat us in our home turf? The Stars have not always been particularly consistent in terms of performance; what if they had chosen this second leg as the perfect opportunity to drop the ball? (figuratively and otherwise).

Please don’t forget about all of the financial hardships our national team has had to endure this year. Delayed allowances and delayed staff remuneration were bound to have a detrimental effect on the morale of the team.

However, these were apparently cleared up before the second leg of the tie (thank you Jesus! But it is seriously shameful to see how poorly funds are managed within our sports fraternity)

I would have been mortified if we lost at home.

But we did not lose.

If you watched the second leg of the Ethiopia-Kenya tie, like I did, that performance must be etched in the upper echelons of your limbic system.

You, just like me, must be thoroughly impressed with our boys’ performance. We won 3-0 in a must win fixture and it was my best football experience this month, of course after our (Arsenal’s) 5-1 thrashing of Fulham earlier this month.

There has been some debate in some quarters on the financial benefits that teams accrue for reaching different levels of this and other CAF competitions, but this post is not about that.

(although a 166%increase in prize money for the winner is quite an impressive financial incentive. Maybe if we at least manage to reach the quarter finals, we can stop relying on handouts to support the Stars).

This post is about how we treat, train, and guide these sports men and women who make us so proud as a nation. These individuals who invoke in us a sense of nationhood. Individuals who make us proud to be called Kenyans, albeit for one game or one race. They are doing something worth celebrating; but most importantly, worth protecting.

Being a Kenyan is one of the most difficult roles under the sun- there is constant disappointment literally everyday and everywhere you look- but the way these individuals use their talents to put us on the world map- that is indeed something we need to hold dear, guard and guide.

But we have failed to do so… miserably!

The last time Kenya qualified for the AFCON tournament was in 2004 in Tunisia under the able leadership of Jacob Ghost Mulee.

In the lineup was a young, brilliant defender who played a crucial role in helping us qualify for the tournament. His name is George ‘Jojo’ Waweru. He is among the last generation of Kenyan players to have played in the AFCON competition.

He has won several accolades throughout his football career, which included winning the KPL title as a Tusker FC player.

Sadly, his career took a nosedive after suffering a neck injury while training for the AFCON game against Mali. He was literally abandoned and left to his own devices by the league, by his club, by his government, and by his country men.

News reports indicate that he has been battling with alcoholism for years after being abandoned, and this has had a tremendous impact on his health.

He is currently admitted in hospital owing to alcohol-related complications where his condition is reported as being grievously ill.

Unfortunately, he is not the only legendary footballer who is ailing, living in squalor, and addicted to alcohol amongst other drugs.

I’ve heard numerous stories of Kenyan football legends who have been forced to eke out a living from menial jobs such as sweeping the streets.

They are so many and it’s a situation that has been repeated year after year, squad after squad. Worse still, we don’t seem to want to fix the problem.

Remember the Kadenge story I wrote earlier this year? As I was doing the research for that article, it dawned on me that this man-this hero has been suffering financially and health-wise for several decades after hanging his football boots despite being the biggest legend in Kenyan football history.

Watching the match between the Wallas and the Stars on Sunday, I couldn’t help but feel anxious about these men’s futures.

Will they end up on the same path as JoJo and the others?

Do they know that there is life after football? Do they understand how short a football career can be especially one occasioned by injury?

Do they have basic money management skills? Have they started saving for retirement?

Are they getting paid their worth? (Doubtful especially when you consider delayed payments both at the national or club level)

Are they investing the little money they do get in order to multiply their sources of income?

Or are they drinking it away- living for today with absolutely no consideration for tomorrow; chasing a celebrity lifestyle that they cannot afford to maintain- not with their pay and not in this economy.

Do they know that their so-called friends will desert them immediately their hard earned money runs out?

What about their minds? Are they taking care of their minds? Are they furthering their education? Are they investing their time in acquiring skills that can make them an asset even after hanging their football cleats?

Do they have the mental strength and resilience to avoid the alcoholism and drug abuse trap- a scourge that has permeated to the very fabric of our nation- destroying each of us including children everywhere you look?

We live in a nation where alcohol advertisements form the bulk of adverts on TV, and on billboards, in newspapers and on social media. We’ve made consumption of alcohol so cool and so alluring that it has become a national culture. We entice people to enter into alcohol and drug abuse, but we abandon them when they are overcome with addiction, and cannot get out.

Can they withstand the pressure and not follow their peers into this death trap?

Do they understand the gravity of the fact that the Kenyan Government, their clubs, FKF, and the country they play for will not give a hoot about them when they leave the game? If it takes months for them to receive their dues now when they are active, how much worse will they be treated once they retire?

Twenty years from now, where will each of these Stars be?

If I’ll be there, will I be penning another sad story of a fallen football hero, addicted to drugs and alcohol and unable to pay his own medical bills?

I don’t want that. I don’t want to see people who once gave me so much joy, who had a chance to be bigger than we have ever imagined, and who consistently put their bodies on the line for national pride end up poor, deserted, sick, dejected, and plagued by alcohol and substance abuse.

I don’t want that.

So, I’m calling on all Kenyan footballers, regardless of club, league, or whether they play for the national team or not- to learn from the mistakes of the legends who have gone before them, and purpose to be better;

To learn how to manage their income with tomorrow in mind;

To discern that this is a short term career and they need to develop alternative sources of income now before they retire;

To shun bad company (slay queen’s are not your friends; neither are your boys if all they want to do is drink your money or invest in shady deals);

and to know that in this country, heroes are treated badly, literally abandoned, after their service to the nation.

Anyway, back to the present. Let’s wait to see if we have to play Sierra Leone or not.

Good luck Stars; AFCON here we come!!

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RECOVERING FROM REJECTION IN THE FREELANCING WORLD

Rejection is everywhere even in the world of freelance, and just like in other areas of life, it sucks to face rejection as a freelancer.

If you are just starting out, it is imperative that you understand that rejection in the gig-economy is commonplace and it comes in many different ways.

I started freelancing seriously about five years ago, and I cannot count the number of times I have had the door slammed on my face, figuratively of course.

Even with the extensive experience I have gained over my career, I still hear the word ‘no’ from clients, just slightly less than before.

It’s difficult being a freelancer; there are all these perks that people tout when convincing themselves and others of the benefits of freelancing (many of which are true by the way);

– but there is the other side that people simply gloss over; the emotional and psychological pain that you will have to endure while in this line of work.

No one ever prepares you for that part!

Rejection is a huge part of this pain. That and clients who take you for granted as I wrote about here.

So, what kind of rejection can you expect as a freelancer?

Well, for starters, you can find yourself endlessly bidding on your preferred freelancing platform without a single positive response from a client and this situation could go on for weeks! Imagine bidding for hours day in day out, and not a single client has responded to your bids. The horror!!

This can be so frustrating especially if you are cash-strapped that month.

There are obviously ways you can improve your bidding game, but it takes time to understand and apply them effectively. Instant results, for me, has always been a pipe dream.

Now, let us just imagine that one of those bids has gone through (thankfully), and you have landed a client. You are now over the moon and your anxiety levels have returned to normal.

However, every time you submit the task, it comes back with a correction. It could be because the client keeps changing their demands or because you didn’t understand the instructions in the first place.

Whichever the case, constant correction of one task, to me feels like constant rejection. Trust me, you will feel like pulling your hair out every time this happens. Your patience wears thin, and you begin to panic. You are stressed out, unhappy, furious at yourself, furious at the client, and you feel like you want to give up.

But giving up is not an option, is it now? Giving up would mean losing the contract, and risking a bad rating, which adds to the strain of trying to land another client. Giving up would mean that you lose the earnings you would have earned if you had successfully completed the project. Giving up means your bills might not be paid this month, and if you have any dependants, it gets a million times worse.

However, if you continue with this project, you are losing precious time that you could have used in more economically beneficial ways.

Now, you are stuck- the true meaning of being caught between a rock and a hard place.

There is also the possibility of the client canceling the project because you are not delivering the task according to their expectations. That’s another low blow.

A few more experiences like these and you are likely to become a prime candidate for high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, alcoholism, and a slew of other health problems.

We definitely do not want that, and that is why it is essential that you learn how to deal with rejection in this line of work so that you are able to enjoy a long and successful freelancing career.

So here we go:

My tips on How to deal with rejection as a freelancer

1. Don’t take it personally– You need to learn how to separate yourself and your emotions from the work. These are separate entities and should be dealt with as such. Client rejection is not a reflection of your value as a human being. It is easier to overcome the hurt and frustration associated with this kind of rejection if you do not peg your emotions on the bidding or contract outcome.

2. Take as much time as you need to process your emotions after facing rejection, and then move on. Don’t carry any of the pain or the frustration forward. Venting can also be good as long as you are doing so through the right avenues (alcohol consumption, smoking, pill popping are not the recommended avenues).

Talk to a friend, listen to music, or journal/blog. Do what you need to do in order to blow off some steam. This way you get to move on quickly and constructively.

3. If the client has refused the bid or rejected the work and perhaps ended the contract, seek to understand where you went wrong. Feedback can help you improve your future applications so that you definitely get the gig the next time around.

That is why it is important to always remain respectful in all of your dealings with the client, even when the contract is going contrary to your expectations. If you remain cordial, it is easier to ask for feedback on where you can improve.

4. If bidding is proving unsuccessful, or if a client cancels your contract, get back in the game by refreshing your network. Inform them of the kind of work that you are interested in doing. Ask for recommendations, and you will be surprised by how many people are willing to help you. Linkedin is the perfect platform for this; just ensure that you are using the platform correctly, and that your profile is attractive to potential clients.

5. Keep looking– don’t give up the search, continue bidding for work on your preferred freelancing platforms, and try to detach yourself from the ensuing disappointments. And even when you finally land a client, be sure to understand the instructions clearly before commencing on the task in order to avoid further rejection in form of conflict with the client.

I hope this helps and if you have any questions on this matter or any other issue as relates to freelancing, do not hesitate to contact me through Linkedin, Instagram, or Facebook.

PS: If you are looking for data entry gigs, and need help on how to pitch clients, this short video can help.

If you are looking for tips on choosing the best payment options for your freelancing career, you can read here.

Plus, if you need help getting your Upwork account approved, have a read here.

Bye for now!

Happy freelancing…

IS A GLOBAL RECESSION IN THE OFFING?

This post is not meant to alarm you, although to be honest I am a bit alarmed myself.

It seems that a global recession is in the making. This is according to Tiz Gambacorta, an investor, serial entrepreneur, and a reputable digital marketer. I subscribe to his weekly newsletters, and last week’s newsletter was discussing a looming global financial recession.

Tiz is not the only one who thinks like this. Many economists, financial market analysts, as well as big-time investors have been saying the same thing for the last couple of years, but their predictions have not come to pass ‘convincingly’.

Unfortunately, that does not mean that it is not coming. And the way Tiz put it on his website actually had me freaking out.

Here in Kenya, the perception is that the economy is always bad, so most people would not pay heed to alerts over a global recession. Well, maybe until it is about too late, and there is practically nothing we can do (except politicize the matter).

Whether these predictions become actual state of affairs is a matter of time. What I do know is that it is going to hit our country hard, mainly because of the perilous position we have placed our economy in.

For those who do not know, we are in the throes of a Chinese debt trap and IMF has backed us into a corner in regards to increasing the tax on petroleum and other basic goods. The cost of living is absurdly high at the moment, and our country’s economic activity is sure to take a hit as a result.

Let us not forget that just last week, we lost access to the IMF Standby Credit Facility, exposing us to a myriad of risks occasioned by external financial shocks. Our economy could collapse because we do not have protection from global economic shocks.

Yes, we are in trouble, and we are about to be in even graver danger if what Tiz and his fellow analysts are predicting about a looming global financial recession comes true.

There is reason to fear. The signs are there, and they are pretty convincing.

Let us start with an obvious one – the contraction of activity in major markets across the world.

Most markets have seen a reduction in activity for the better part of the year. We are talking about the Asian markets, the European markets, the Latin American markets, as well as the African emerging markets.

Most alarming are the major Chinese markets performing extremely poor this year. Granted, the slipping has a lot to do with US-China trade wars that have continued to take centre stage throughout 2018. However, the poor performance of the Chinese markets could point to a major decline in global economic activity away from its catastrophic side-shows with America.

China’s year to date market indices have continued to drop into double digits. She is currently the world’s largest producer, and its markets’ contraction means that most countries have slowed down their importing activity.

The US could also tip towards recession if it continues to escalate this trade war with China. Most of her imports come from China, and the additional tariffs on Chinese imports could crumble American businesses (it is a strong hypothetical).

The year to date market indices of the European markets is not fairing as well either. Germany is Europe’s main manufacturing powerhouse, and its markets continue to post poor results. This demonstrates that there is a reduction in activity in Europe as well.

The screenshot below shows the major markets’ indices across Europe, Asia, and America. If you look at most of the YTDs across the markets, you will see that they are red in colour, indicating a decline in performance. The Chinese markets are especially doing bad because their YTD performances have slipped by double digits.

According to Tiz, and other like-minded market analysts, the problem began in the Latin American countries, and owing to the contagion effect, the contraction of economic activity has continued to spread throughout the world.

We should also be very concerned at the rate at which global currencies are weakening, some even into double digits. This is a snapshot of some of the worst performing global currencies at the moment based on their year to date percentage change against the US dollar. Majority of the globe’s currencies are sliding in value, and not just the emerging and poor markets captured in the snapshot.

Perhaps one of the biggest tell-tale signs of a looming global recession is an inverting global yield curve. According to several financial publications such as this one, the average global yield curve is inverting, and history dictates that when the yield curve inverts, a recession is in the making.

When a country’s yield curve inverts it means that investors expect higher short term returns on bonds rather than the norm, which is higher returns on long term investments in the bonds.

Usually, long term bonds attract higher interest rates than the short term ones. However, the opposite occurs when investors perceive that short term investments are riskier than long term investments.

The flight to dollar is another clear indication that we are facing turbulent economic times. This characteristic has been a consistent early warning sign of a recession.

Investors, businesses, and other governments see the US dollar and her debt as a safe haven when the global economy is going south. Hence, there is a higher demand for US currency and debt as entities around the world try to brace themselves for an economic downturn mainly by stocking up on dollar reserves.

This flight to dollar is probably the reason the US dollar is still going strong, and its individual yield curve has not inverted yet.

So there you have it. An inverting global yield curve, weakening of currencies’ performances, declining performances in major markets, as well as the flight to dollar are some of the major signals that a global recession is in the offing.

Kenyans, brace yourselves! It is going to be a bumpy economic ride.

PICKING THE RIGHT CLIENTS

Freelancing is tough and I have not yet met anyone who can tell me any differently. It’s tough getting freelancing jobs. It’s hard work doing the research and actually creating content worth reading (my main job) or doing repetitive, dull data entry jobs.

But, for me, the hardest part isn’t finding the jobs; it’s finding the right client. A client that regards me as a professional; one that respects my time and my input. One that I enjoy working with time and time again, and I actually look forward to our next project together.

Why is it so hard finding such clients? Probably because many think they own you when they hire you as a freelancer. Majority also tend to think of you as disposable without realising how much of an asset you are to their business.

This week has been a trying one and the biggest lesson I have learned is how to pick the right clients.

I have had to fire two major clients this week because they were not treating me right. It reached a point where I felt as if I was in abusive relationships.

Please don’t get me wrong. The pay was okay and there was no verbal use. We have being working together for months and everything was rosy in the beginning.

However, I started noticing that they were not respecting my time or efforts. The goalposts kept changing and my Productivity was declining each day as a result.

I constantly told myself that I should withstand the mental abuse because I need the money.

Well, not anymore. After a small meeting with myself, my better judgement kicked in and I realized I have too much respect for myself, my talents, and my time to be in a work situation that makes me unhappy. Hence, the decision to fire these clients.

And I think that’s one of the beauties of freelancing; doing something you are good at for people who understand your value, and calling it quits when they start acting otherwise.

Well, enjoy your weekend. I’ll be working to make up for the income gap occasioned by the firing of two major clients. But I’ll be doing so with a smile and less stress.

Have fun freelancing!

USHERING IN THE 2018/19 PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON

By Lennox Kimtai

The 2018/19 Premier League season is here. How time flies! Just the other day we were enjoying the World Cup in Russia. Talking of the World Cup, I must say it was one of the best, if not THE best world cup tournament I have ever watched.

The drama started early in the group stages, where the 2014 winners Germany were eliminated. Coming into the tournament, Germany was one of the favorites to lift the trophy. They had just won the Confederations Cup with a squad that was mainly made up of under-23s. There was no doubt about their quality. The only explanation for their early exit is that they underrated their opponents.

Looking at the overall performance of teams, I must say I was impressed by the smaller teams such as Switzerland, Sweden, Russia and Serbia which had hitherto been expected to pose little threat. It is a clear indication that any well-organized team can outshine a traditional football heavyweight.

The Croatia Vs France final was an amazing one. After a 3-0 drabbing of Lionel Messi’s Argentina, we knew that the Croats were up to something great. Personally, I was rooting for Croatia in the final but they just couldn’t replicate their form against other teams in the final. Although they dominated the midfield and controlled the tempo of the game, they were too shy in front of goal.

Anyway, congrats to Les Bleus!

Now back to the Premier League. Clubs have been busy reinforcing their squads since the season ended in May. The summer transfer window has been a busy one, with almost every club making a major signing. Let’s have a look at some of the transfers.

Chelsea

Former Chelsea coach Antonia Conte was replaced by Maurizio Sarri. Antonio Conte apparently failed to meet the expectations of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who has a habit of changing managers almost every season. His lowest point was selling Diego Costa, perhaps the best striker in the premier league when he was at Chelsea.

Sarri has brought in a couple of players. The first is Kepa Arrizabalaga (goal keeper), Mateo Kovacic (defender), Jorginho (midfielder) and Robert Green (Goal keeper). Looks like decent signings. Having lost Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid, Kepa is a great replacement.

Manchester United

Manchester United didn’t really do much in the transfer Window. Only three players have signed for the Manchester club: Diogo Dalot (defender), Fred (midfielder), and Lee Grant (goalkeeper). Mourinho was unable to land most of his targets so it could be a difficult season for the Red Devils. I can picture Mourinho employing his infamous defense tactics when playing against tougher opponents.

Arsenal

The Gunners go into the new season without their former manager Arséne Wenger who has been with the North London outfit for 22 years. It looks like we are going to see a new arsenal under Unai Emery. The former PSG head brought in a number of players: Stephan Lichtsteiner (defender), Bernd Leno (keeper), Lucas Torreira (midfielder), Sokratis Papastathopolous (defender), and Matteo Guendouzi (midfielder).

It will be exciting to see what type of squad Unai Emery will develop, having had tremendous success with PSG and Sevilla. Arsenal looks ready to make a return to Champions League football.

Liverpool

If you look at the current Liverpool, you can’t help but admire Klopp’s genius. He has brought in Naby Keita (midfielder), Allison (keeper), Xherdan Xhaqiri (midfielder) and Fabinho (defender/midfielder).

Having reached the Champions League final last season, it looks like Klopp is hungry for more. With the dangerous trio of Firmino, Mane, and Salah, it looks like Liverpool will contend for every trophy this season.

Manchester City

The Premier League Champions made a few additions to their excellent squad: Philippe Sandler (defender), Riyad Mahrez (midfielder), Daniel Arzani (midfielder). With so many options for nearly every position, Pep Guardiola will easily terrorize opponents with his B team. It looks like the former Barcelona manager might retain the Premier League trophy.

Everton

Everton might look like the underdogs in this list but going by their activities in the transfer window, we can conclude that they are serious about winning the premier league. On deadline day, the Merseyside club completed a deal for Yeri Mina (permanent deal) and Andre Gomes (loan) from Barcelona. The club also signed Brazilian midfielder Bernard. With great players like Tosun and Sigurdsson already in the team, the new additions will enable Everton to fight for a top-four spot.

Tottenham has made history as the only club not to have made a signing in the summer transfer window. This means that Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino will open the club’s new stadium with the same squad that finished third in the 2017/18 season. Despite the fact that they have a strong squad, the absence of a new signing may come to haunt them.

As the new season begins, I hope the league remains competitive to the end. I wouldn’t want Man City to retain the title.

WRITER BIO: Lennox Kimtai is a content writer who is passionate about football. Apart from football, he writes on a wide range of topics such as self-improvement and productivity. Check out his blog here and here.

 

LESSONS LEARNT FROM MY UPWORK-PAYPAL ORDEAL

I have had a nightmarish episode with Upwork and PayPal recently (see below), and it was a mind-altering experience. Somehow, during a routine transfer of my cash from my Upwork account to my PayPal account on Tuesday morning, the funds got lost!!!!

Can you believe that?

The funds got lost in thin digital air, and no one seemed to know how to fix the problem. No one!

And it is even more exasperating that all communication from Upwork had ceased completely for nearly 15 hours. And before that I had to deal with PayPal customer care platforms, which turn out to be almost non-functional (it took nearly 14 hours for them to get back to me via their Twitter customer care platform, which by the way, is supposed to be the fastest way to reach out to PayPal).

Woi, woi, woi, woi!!

When this world decides to hammer you, it goes all in. There is literally, no energy spared in making your life miserable. The anxiety itself can cause you to develop ulcers and an eating disorder within minutes.

I even found myself looking back on how I had lived my life in the past week trying to determine what I did wrong to deserve the wrath of the universe.

I am a firm believer in cause and effect. You do something right, the universe finds a way to pay you back in kind. You do something wrong, it leads to other bad things happening to you.

However, I sense that cosmic injustice is involved in this scenario. There’s nothing wrong that I did……..as far as I can tell (maybe there is, I’m a naughty girl, y’all).

Fortunately, the entire mess was solved on Thursday morning, and it involved Upwork transferring back the cash into my account. They told me the problem was with PayPal, which PayPal obviously categorically denied numerous times, and blamed the entire problem on Upwork.

Anyway, I opted to use the Upwork-Mpesa direct route as I could not risk using PayPal again and ending up in a similarly horrid situation. The funds were in my M-pesa in less than 30 minutes, and I could immediately feel all of the pent-up tension slowly leave my tiny body. What a feeling!!

So, what lessons have I learned from this excruciating experience?

  • Before withdrawing from a freelancing site using PayPal or another digital payment platform, check the Internet to see if people have been complaining of delayed services in the last couple of days. For instance, you can search Google for ‘PayPal payment delays recently’.
  • In addition, visit the company’s social media pages to see what customers are currently talking about and if several of them are complaining about delays in payment transfer.
  • Go through some of the major Kenyan freelancing groups on Facebook, and try to assess if any recent posts concern delays in payments from one of the major platforms we use including PayPal, Equity, Skrill, Payoneer, etc.
  • Always have an alternative payment option on the freelancing website you are using. For instance, on Upwork, we have PayPal, and now M-pesa. There are also sites that offer direct to bank transfers, or Skrill, and Payoneer. Ensure there are enough alternatives on the freelancing site you choose to work on for worst-case scenarios. In addition, please ensure that you have set-up more than one payment option on these sites.
  • These payment transfer systems can fail at any moment, and it is usually at the worst possible time. Hence, please ensure that you always have cash somewhere that you can access directly as you wait for these systems to resume normal services.

As a freelancer, always be prepared for a potential crisis. It is the only way to ensure that you survive and thrive in this business.

THE BEDSWERVER’S SIDE TO THE STORY

‘Men are dogs! Men are dogs!’ 

I have heard, and read this statement countless times since I was a little girl. We were taught to expect that men were animals, and they only look at us as conquests. Once they capture your heart, or your body, and in many instances both, they are on to the next one, and the cycle never ends. The victim here is always the woman because when she loves, she loves with all her heart. She is so innocent and so pure. And men, men are just pigs!!

This is the notion we grew up with as young girls, and for me, it played an incredible role in how I viewed men. We were taught that all men cheat, and we were taught to not only expect it but accept it as the norm. We were taught that there is nothing you can do about it, and your only two options were to stay single (which was deemed impossible and just plain weird because you can’t live without a man, duh) or accept that cheating is part and parcel of being a man, and just learn to live with it.

We were also taught that women don’t cheat. Women can’t cheat; women shouldn’t cheat. Women are too emotionally attached to sex, and it is unimaginable that they could be unfaithful to their partners (sad to say but there is a little ho in each and every one of us; societal dogma just forces women to keep their ho-ness on a leash, most of the time).

In my mind, it felt kind of unfair. The society tells us that cheating is wrong, but in most instances, members of one sex are less severely punished for this act than the other. This makes it seem that it is more acceptable for some of us to step out on our significant others but deemed an atrocious, unforgivable act for the rest of us.

This double standards always confused and angered me because it felt like I was being told what to do. For me, it was fine that cheating was in a man’s DNA. What was not fine was being told to accept it and live with it. If men could cheat and everyone is fine with it, so could I.

And cheat I did. In many of my ‘situationships’ with men throughout my late teens and early 20s, I was hardly 100% committed. I did not even try. It did not even bother me an inch, because, ‘hey, he’s probably cheating anyway, and I’m just trying to save myself some heartbreak. No one is getting hurt here’.

Wait a minute! Don’t throw the stones yet.

Let me be honest, I don’t think I would have been so hell-bent on cheating if it had not been drummed into my head that women weren’t allowed to cheat but men were. Most of the time, I was just proving a point; a big FUCK YOU to the society for trying to dictate how I should live my life (it sounds so stupid now).

I know this to be absolutely true about myself…I really do not like being told what to do especially if the instructions apply only to me because of certain physical characteristics that I cannot change e.g. my big forehead. It’s not really a feminist thing, it’s a hard-headed thing. I am a stubborn little person, and you cannot tell me what to do. If you try to tell me what I can or cannot do, I’ll find a way to prove you wrong, and annoy you in the process (I know; it’s a terrible, terrible, character flaw).

But, as I have grown older, I have realized that there is so much more to cheating than just stepping out on someone. For instance, in my case, it wasn’t just to prove that I too, a woman, was emotionally and physically capable of stepping out. It started out as simple as that but every experience shed light on the actual person I was at the time.

I realized later on, cheating came easy for me mainly because I have this inexplicable fear of getting close to people. Like, it’s a serious fear to a point of it being toxic. That probably stems from severe abandonment issues, and cheating was one way of ensuring that I do not get too attached to one particular person who might end up leaving and breaking my heart (daddy issues, anyone?).

Aside from that, I have noticed that cheating was my go-to tactic whenever I wanted to exit a situationship. It was my method of escapism from situations that I am not particularly comfortable to be in. I am not highly effective at communicating my feelings, my needs, my unhappiness, or my discomfort with the other individual. Hence, instead of continuing to suffer in the silence, I choose to cheat as an expression of my dissatisfaction with the significant other and ensure that he finds out about it.

Sometimes, this strategy would backfire, as some would forgive me for my indiscretions. This meant that I was still stuck in this situation, and I had to find other means to get myself out of it e.g. cutting off all communication for several days at a time. I would go to all of these extreme measures rather than just let the other party know that I was not happy and that I wanted to move on (I have never denied that I am a big coward when it comes to telling people what I think and how I feel).

Cheating was also easy because I mostly assumed that the other individual (almost always male) was also cheating. That is exactly what we were taught to expect, and my cheating was a way to ensure that his cheating did not sting as much. That I did not end up crying and shocked, and miserable when his indiscretions would be laid bare. My actions ensured that I would not be the victim like soooo many other women in sooooooo many relationships.

It was fun in the beginning, but it stopped being fun a long time ago. It almost became engrained in my personality, and often times I would find myself chanting prayers begging the universe not to allow me to cheat. I’m in the house on my own endlessly chanting, ‘please do not let me cheat, please do not let me cheat, please do not let me cheat‘.

You get to see the monster and the coward you are when you’re stepping out on someone who actually trusts you. I have come to realize that in the end, you are hurting them, but not to the extent that you’re hurting yourself.

From this VERY limited experience, I have also come to see that cheating is not an overwhelmingly male characteristic, and often, cheating is not as simple as just men having an insatiable lust for the opposite sex, or their inability to keep it in their pants in the presence of individuals who are not their significant others, or the myth that men are allergic to/above commitment.

Nope. There is almost always an underlying personal (almost unique to their circumstances) element that pushes someone, male or female, to that point of stepping out.

People cheat.

We (men and women) cheat because we are unhappy; we cheat because we are sad. We cheat because we are scared of settling for less, but we really have not yet determined our worth.

People cheat because we are scared to be vulnerable.

People cheat because, growing up, some of us never really learned how to accept ourselves and the others around us for who we and they really are.

There is also a ‘biological‘ twist to the entire saga with many people actually genetically predisposed to promiscuity and infidelity. How do you fight against your own genetic makeup? HOW??

People cheat because of their own mental health issues. Some people cheat because they are narcissists.

People cheat because they feel a connection to others that they do not share with their significant ones. You only live once and you do not know if you will ever find such a connection again.

And then there are those instances where someone is just too attractive to let them pass you by without you giving your pudenda the opportunity to have a dalliance with theirs. Again, you only live once!!

The spectrum for reasons why people are unfaithful is so wide and it is not sex specific.

People cheat. Not just men. All of us. The media’s constant portrayal of men as players and emotionally inept smooth operators has had us believing that ALL men cheat ALL the time.

It’s a folklore that has shaped how the Kenyan men and women relate with one another. This folklore has been fanned by our mothers, grandmothers, elder sisters, and teachers who felt bitter that they had been cheated on and they were unable to return the favor, slowly slaving away in relationships they should have ended when they saw the signs. I can honestly deduce that majority of relationships in this great land of ours are RUBBISH!!

Men aren’t dogs who lack control over their gonads. Men are just people. We are all just people making stupid mistakes every day because we do not understand who we are, what our needs are, and how we can have these needs met without getting ourselves or others hurt.

Figure yourself out first before committing to someone you are not completely sure you can be faithful to. Because, in the end, cheating on someone who trusts you is wrong, regardless of the reasons behind your actions.

 

 

FOR THE AFRICANS, IT WAS A WASTE OF HEIGHT!!!!

Here is a fun fact for all of you football lovers. The shortest squad in the entire World cup this year was Saudi Arabia. The Saudis had an average team height of approximately 176.2 centimeters. Compare that to the tallest team in the WC, the Serbians, who had an average height of 185.6 centimeters.

All the African teams were snuggly fit within this range with a country like Senegal leading the African pack in terms of average team height.

The Senegalese World Cup squad had an average height of approximately 183.7 centimeters.

The Tunisians had an average height of 184 centimeters.

The Morocco squad had an average height of 182.4 centimeters.

The Nigerians’ average height was 181.2 centimeters.

The Egyptian’s average height was 180.1 centimeters.

With all of this respectable height, why were the Africans hell-bent on conceding goals from set-pieces?

I know, I know, being tall does not necessarily make one a good defender and defending set pieces is much more complex than just jumping and using your body parts to stop the ball from going into the net (or is it?).

However, height does come in handy when you are trying to ward off those pesky aerial balls from reaching their mark within your penalty area. Height gives your team aerial dominance, so to speak.

Having been the shortest squad, Saudi Arabia was at an obvious disadvantage when it came to defending aerial balls from corners and free kicks. For me, it did not come as a surprise when they conceded two goals from set-piece situations (we are only referring to corners and free kicks here). There was the Gazinsky’s goal in their first match against Russia, and then Suarez goal in their 1-0 loss to Uruguay.

However, the Africans fared much better in terms of height and they should have been able to use this to their advantage when it came to defending aerial balls from free kicks and corners. Each team had a good number of relatively tall players, an asset that would have surely helped some of them avoid elimination at the early stages of the competition. Things did not go exactly according to plan.

Take Egypt for instance. They lost their match against Uruguay in the dying minutes of the game because none of the Egyptians could outjump Gimenez. They were so close to earning a point from the match by the way with only a couple of minutes to stoppage time.

In that Morocco vs Iran match,  a defensive blunder against a free-kick during injury time resulted in the Iranians securing all three points. Morocco was also so close to bagging a point in that game against a spiritless Iranian side. I’m sure Bouhaddouz is still having nightmares about that own goal. (Okay, this is more of a defensive miscalculation rather than a height thing, but it still goes to show that the African teams were defending these set-pieces very poorly). Five days later, they lost to Portugal, despite playing very well, because, in the fourth minute of the game, they let in a Ronaldo header from a corner kick.

Nigeria lost to Croatia also because of failing to defend set-pieces correctly. Both goals emanated from set-piece situations, with the first set-piece action resulting in an own goal. Next, the Nigerians were unable to deal with a Croatian corner definitively, resulting in some man-handling, and ultimately a penalty awarded against them.

The same set-piece nightmare visited Tunisia in their match against England. Both English goals scored in that match originated from corner kicks. This was a bad start to Tunisia’s World Cup campaign, and it only got worse from there.

The most heart-wrenching moment for African football came when Yerry Mina rose highest to meet a corner kick and head it into the back of the Senegal net. Granted, Mina is 195 cm tall, more than 10 centimeters taller than the average Senegalese player in that squad, but I feel like the Senegalese could have shown a bit more initiative by marking him comprehensively.

How many times will the African dream be quashed due to carelessly giving away set-piece opportunities? Nimechoka!!!

That Mina goal drew the curtain on Africa’s participation in this edition of the World Cup. I think this has been the continent’s worst performance in the global tournament in recent years. And I think it is quite clear where the greatest weakness in African football teams lies.

Truth be told, almost every team in this WC has conceded a goal from set-piece action, and there have been more goals from these dead ball situations in this edition of the World Cup than in any previous editions. So maybe, it’s not so much an African-specific phenomenon, but that should not be an excuse for our poor performance.

Hopefully, by 2022, all of the African teams that qualify for the WC would have mastered the art of defending set pieces by maximizing on their height advantage and scoring more goals from both open plays and set-pieces. I hope we all learn from the mistakes we made in this edition, otherwise, none of us might win this cup anytime soon.

Anyway….

May Croatia win the World Cup!!

EMBRACING WHAT IS OURS

We are inching closer to the semi-final stages of the 2018 World Cup, and the competition is getting juicier. This is definitely one for the memory books considering how many great teams have fallen along the way (wink wink Portugal; wink wink Argentina; sad wink wink Germany).

Count yourself lucky if your favorite team has at least made it into the quarters of the World Cup. Mine didn’t; they did not even make it past the group stages. For a minute, okay, let’s be honest, for some time now, I have been suffering from an internal paralysis. Don’t be alarmed! My organs are not failing. But, I feel a deep sense of loss, a deep sense of mourning, and an even deeper sense of stunned motionlessness. ‘Where did they go wrong?’ is a question that keeps ringing in my head. It actually feels like a small part of my heart is broken. These changes in the world order are too monumental, you cannot ignore them.

That is how much emotion I had invested in the German national team going all the way to the finals of this tournament. Their football, their passion, their lust for glory has beguiled me for years, and it was like a kick in the stomach when they could not meet my expectations this time around. I probably should have seen the signs when they lost to Brazil in that international friendly match three months ago. I ignored those warnings!!

I craved and yearned to see them play at their best. My body and mind needed that fix I get whenever they play. I was looking forward to that excitement, to the numerous goals, to the un-ending action. But it all came to a sudden stop, and now my drug of choice isn’t flowing anymore.

For some time after they were knocked out, by South Korea no less (you can check out my short commentary on how devastating this loss was here), the World Cup for me felt empty. At least until I caught the Belgian bug.

I’m better now, thanks for asking. I am beginning to enjoy the WC  a little bit more, so that’s a ray of sunshine.

I am still very disappointed though, but my disappointment is not only directed towards Die Nationalmannschaft. They sucked, and that is on them, but I also feel a bit disappointed in myself.

Why?

I just came to the sad realization that I am putting too much effort into deifying another country’s football team whereas I can barely remember eight names from the Harambee Stars’ starting line up. That is so sad!

Sure, the love of football should transcend all borders, but how comes I do not feel the same commitment, and loyalty to our national team?

Why don’t I get thoroughly depressed when they lose? Why do I dismiss them so easily, and only take the time to watch just a few of their matches annually?

Why is it that I do not feel connected to Harambee Stars as I do another country’s national football team?

Fifa currently ranks our national football team at position 112, which is a bit embarrassing I have to say. I also think we have the worst football management in the history of football management. There are so many reasons to not pay attention to Kenyan football, to Kenyan sports for that matter.

But, I feel like a traitor. Whether they suck or not, there are tens of men and women all over this country who are playing football at a professional or semi-professional capacity for many months every year. We see the sacrifice our brothers and sisters are putting into playing in this toxic, depressing environment that is Kenyan football, and they do not stop. That’s their love for the game. There’s a resilience about being a Kenyan football player; about being a Kenyan sportsperson that you just cannot find anywhere else.

We, scratch that, I need to honor this sacrifice (you have to do it as an individual before we can achieve the desired collective action).

Our standards, techniques, coaching, or management may not be anywhere close to professional standards, but the sacrifice these players are making has to count for something.

And, I am all about embracing everything that is Kenyan, including that which is inherently wrong with us, football included.

Maybe if we paid more attention to it, like serious attention to it, and own this process of understanding the intricacies (problems and all) of Kenyan football, we can start revitalizing it; correcting the mistakes one by one.

Maybe that’s how I (and hopefully you) will learn to feel more connected to it.

It’s ours; love it or hate it, it’s always going to be ours, and we might as well find the gems hidden in the cow dung that is our sports fraternity.

We have a national football team. It is not the best but it is ours. We have to give it a little more love.

Enjoy the rest of the WC!

Making Sense of My World, One Post At A Time

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