The Mashemeji Derby… aka Gor Mahia vs AFC Leopards: Kenyas most popular football match of the year.
The mashemeji derby, the fixture in kenyan football that puts a stand still to all proceedings in the city, as fans of both incredibly popular teams gather to watch the two old foes (Gor Mahia vs AFC Leopards), lock horns once more. Many a-time I had only heard of the greatness of this particular game, the fanatical fans who go crazy, the amazing footballing spectacle as players fight and fans continuously sing for 90 minutes cheering their respective team on. After having enough of hearing, I set out to finally attend one of these games and truly experience the pinnacle of kenyan football support.
August 27th 2017 rolled by and it was matchday. With Gor Mahia sitting pretty at the top of the league and AFC Leopards in a bit of a rough patch, i honestly wasn’t even there for the football match but to experience the passion and love the fan had for each of their team. And you could see it in the streets from couples on opposing sides walking together to little children even to the business men and women who set up stalls around the stadium selling club merchandise before the match. Since I was there to experience the fan culture i quickly got my slef some merchandise and soon enough I was blending in with the other fans as though i was a die-hard supporter
Before the match began, as the stadium slowly filled up with supporters sittinng in their respective ends, the spectacle kicked off. Fans from both sides took up their sing and dance formations and begun circling the stadium in a bid to psyche themselves up for an enthrilling encounter.
They sang and danced attempting to intimidate each other as well as maintain peace.
Finally, the game begun and it was all that I expected. High tempo, quick passing and end-to-end football. the basic necessities for any derby wolrdwide. The game eventually ended in a 1–1 draw with the two teams sharing the points. This actually played perfectly in to my hands as there was no chance of potential chaos as has happened in past derbies.
As someone who intends to attend as many African football derbies and biggest rivalries, the mashemeji derby was an excellent start and what I’d assume to only be a tip of the iceberg, in terms of great atmosphere as well as raw passion and love by fans. Genuinely can’t wait to attend the next derby, perhaps the soweto derby of south africa or Al- Merreikh vs Al- Hilal in sudan… who knows?