The World Cup From Kenya

Yesterday 9AM: We have finished our morning education conference with all the interns and residents. "Any announcements?" A quiet voice from the back: "Five o'clock at my place. Opening ceremonies." He has broken the ice, and now a bolder comment from another: "Maybe all the services can try to finish rounding just a bit earlier than usual today..." We all know what he's talking about.

1PM: An unprecedented event. My Paediatric team decides to take a short lunch in favor of rounding in the NICU early... so as to get done earlier. (Believe me, in a culture that evolved during scarcity of food, this does not happen often.)

5PM: I'm checking in at the ICU on a patient before heading home. There's a guy nurse sitting behind the desk. I ask, "You got the unlucky shift to be here while everyone else is flying to South Africa?" (using a euphemism I've been hearing often.) He smiles. "I'm just so happy to have this happen in Africa."

5:30PM: I head over to one of the Kenyan bachelor pad's in the hospital's neighborhood. We watch as South Africa gets the honor of scoring the first goal of the World Cup. We groan when Mexico ties it up near the end, and we agonize as South Africa hits a great shot off the post in the last two minutes of the game, thus ending it in a draw.

In case you somehow missed it (and in the US, you might have), South Africa is hosting the World Cup, and this is the first time Africa has hosted the competition. And they've never had the Olympics, or really any big international event. Kenya didn't even qualify, but three sub-saharan Africa teams did, South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria (Whoops! Actually five, forgot Cameroon and Ivory Coast). South Africa is several countries away from here, and lives in a different economic bracket from the rest of their region. However, there is a surprising kinship that people here have with this experience, and it is an incredible source of transnational pride and excitement. And it is a definite perk of being here to be able to share this experience with them.


Kara Beth said...

And Cameroon! Another Sub-Saharan African team to make it to the World Cup... I know there is a pretty deep rivalry between Cameroon and Kenya so you might not hear them mentioned in Kenyan press. But we (and spending 2 years there allows me to use that pronoun) have a pretty great team. Probably second only to Ivory Coast, the other Sub-Saharan African nation in the tournament.

Jamie Paauw said...

There's some sort of soccer tournament going on now? Is that the sport where they run around for an hour and a half and end up in a tie every time? Reminds me of elementary school when everybody wins.