Last night I felt like a roughly painted bodies in one of those African murals that hangs above the mantel. I was playing soccer with Pri, Charity, Theo (our house boy who is like a big brother to me) and some of the kids from the neighborhood. We began around five when this guy who we have befriended, Kundaeli, came calling our names over the property walls.
“Yeah?” Princely peeked through the peephole. “Oh, Kunda – karibu kaka.”
Kunda asked that we come out instead, so we went with Charity and made our way across the road to a plot of grass that we have come to claim as our football field on the other side. We began by playing a version of monkey in the middle. Theo came running over from tending to the goats and we expanded the game. As more and more people joined “njo – una taka kucheza?” We expanded into a full on game. Kunda is the best player so he was on a team with a bunch of youngsters and Theo, Charity, Princely and I made up Pastor’s Team.
I wore sneakers. Charity wore rain boots. Princely wore no-lace converse. Kunda wore flip-flops (slippers as they’re called here). Theo was barefoot. The goal posts were two pairs of large rocks we had found. The boundary to the left was where the ground got thorny and the boundary to the right was where the cows grazed. Kilimanjaro was in clear view right behind the goal we were shooting on. I watched as the snow turned from tinted blue in the late afternoon, to pink and purple as the sun set in the evening, to a mere outline against the blackened sky. We all ran and sweated and coached and cheered until we could no longer see the ball at our own feet.
“Kesho.” We agreed. We’ll pick up tomorrow. I was sweating like crazy but felt cool and fresh. On the walk back home, we talked strategy for the next game, agreeing that we’d be sure to get Donati on our team tomorrow and play Theo as a forward.
When so many of my experiences here are so different from the picture we assume is Africa, it is refreshing to sometimes enjoy the land in the most base way possible – with a ball and a handful of friends.