The Day I Did Not Meet Kenya's Prime Minister—Page 2
Story and photos by Luke Maguire Armstrong

I hovered awkwardly over him for a few seconds, then turned away and searched for more men with guns. Twenty yards away, I spotted two officers attired in starched blue button ups. Maybe the police would be more receptive than the military.

I walked toward them, but halfway there a man in a red jersey called to me from the bleachers, "Mzungu!"

Kenya travel

"Hey, Kenyan!"

He waved me over. I waved. He waved me over again. I pointed in the direction I was going and mouthed an apology. He waved me over. Reluctant, I climbed over fans to get to him.

I hurried through the usual Mzungu pleasantries: Why I was here. For how long? Where was I from? What state? Did I like Kenya? How about football? I lied, "Yes I love football. Huge fan."

The police officers were slowly distancing themselves from me and I tracked them with sideways glances during conversational pauses.

The man pointed to my camera and asked me to take a picture of him and his pals. No problem. Part of being the stranger in the strange land is perpetual amicability, doing things for people simply because they waved you down and asked.

After the pictures the man asked for my notebook so he could write his email address so that I could send him the photos. I handed it to him. The police officers were now two blue dots.

After he wrote for a bite-sized eternity, I leaned over my notebook. He had filled my notebook with two email addresses and was writing down a second phone number. "Okay, cool, cool," I said, hurrying him along, "I'll email the photos to you."

As I was setting up my mouth for a goodbye, he had one final request: that I pose in a photo with them. "Sure, sure," I handed one of his friends my camera. But he waved it off. He produced a camera of his own from his pocket, making his asking me to take and send him a photo of himself as necessary as asking someone to apply sunscreen to your back while lost in a cave.

Finally, I gave the group a goodbye shake and scanned the crowd. The police were as visible as points on the scoreboard. 0-0.

"Why Do You Want To Meet The Prime Minister?"

After some walking, I saw two more military police and accosted them with my question.

"Why do you want to meet the prime minister?" This sort of question answers itself, but the suspicious eye contact that passed between them meant their question was digging down to the level of my intentions. Hopefully, they had not seen me when I was dressed like Sadaam Hussein.

But this pair of guns was more helpful than their semi-automatic amigo from before. They told me the prime minister was seated in the VIP section. They pointed to the chain linked wall containing a fenced in block of choice seats. I'd need to leave the stadium and re-enter at the VIP gate and talk to guards there. Tally-ho.

"Mzungu," the leader of a company of guns at the gate prodded as I walked out, "you're going to miss Kenya's goal."

"When is that scheduled to happen?" I asked in return.

"Any minute now," the same gun said.

"Well I'm coming back soon. So tell Kenya to hold off on scoring for a few minutes. I'm going to say hello to the Prime Minister and I'll be right back."

The company laughed and I walked around the stadium, waving off people wanting to sell me team swag and sodas until I was at the VIP gate, which was way more hardcore than the other entrances, both in quantity of guards and the seriousness of their expressions.

I went up to the most badass looking guard, assuming he was in charge and laid my case before him: writer, from the states, would like to meet the prime minister, could someone radio up to him and ask if he'd be willing to meet me?

"You would need to go inside and ask one of his people, we have nothing to do with them." My general admission ticket was not going to get me inside. I would need to buy a VIP one. I was willing to do that, but was it worth it? Was there really ever a chance at me succeeding?"

"If I buy it do you think he'll meet with me?"

The head honcho guard gave me the Beverly Hills seriously? look. "If I was in your country and president Barack Obama was at a football game do you think he would meet with me?"

He had made a sterling point. I considered mentioning that Barack Obama would not be caught dead at a football game. A basketball game, yes. But instead I thanked him and headed back inside the stadium where the Kenya team would run back and forth across the field until time ran out and the scoreboard still read 0-0.

Soccer. Why world?

Luke Maguire Armstrong is the author of iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About and How We Are Human. After finishing degrees in philosophy and English in Chile, Luke backpacked from Chile to Guatemala, where he spent four years as director of development organization Nuestros Ahijados. These efforts were featured on the 2010 ABC News Global Health Special: Be the Change, Save a Life. Follow him @lukespartacus.

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