I had just dropped off from a minibus last Wednesday morning at Limbe Market when I heard someone shout from a distance: “Agare, tabwelani ndikugulileni kanyenya apa! [Garry come over here, let me buy you some snacks]”.
I realised it was Be Forward Wanderers flamboyant fan Yona Malunga. As usual he appeared in high spirits as he munched ‘full chickens’ (asodo birds). In the course of our chat, he bragged about his team’s revival, saying: “Mwayiwona bwanji Noma? Yapanga prove kwambiri.” I am sure it must have been a slip of the tongue and he meant to say ‘improve’.
There is never a dull moment when you are with this charismatic fan and he went on to compare his Nomads with Barcelona and Manchester City, saying: “Tikupitaku mkulu wanga tipempha ku Fifa kuti tizisewera ndi Man City kapena Barcelona chifukwa ma size athu ndi amenewo. Zimene timafuna ife ndizimezi, sikuti timasokoneza iyayi, koma timafuna team iziwina osati izikhala ku regulation [ he meant to say relegation].”
Then, as we were about to part ways, I asked him why he has been conspicuously absent from his team’s matches, his explanation was that he is busy trying to boost his takeaway business and turn it into a fully-fledged restaurant.
“Ndifuna pizza, kaya chips, kaya bufeti [buffet] muzizadyera pompaja, kaya ndi akazi anu kaya kachibwenzi.” But he gave me an assurance that he will soon be back in the terraces to give his team the moral support in the quest to win the Super League championship. Crucially, Yona said he is happy that even their rivals Big Bullets are doing well, saying when the two giants are on song, it makes the game more exciting, I couldn’t agree with him more.
At the time of writing this piece on Saturday, the two teams were at par at the summit of the table with the same number of points and games played. They were among the only three teams yet to taste defeat. So, maybe Yona could be right after all. This could indeed be the season that the two giants will wake up from a deep slumber and turn back the hands of time when their rivalry flourished.
It is characters such as Yona who add flavour to the beautiful game— shaking his belly, conducting the orchestra from the terraces, the rhythm of the drumbeat and cheers and jeers from the stands and I just can’t wait to see the sight of him again at the terraces. Glory be to God. Uloliwe…uloliwe wayidudula hah!, neng’asiza [The train is pushing].