Why most Chelsea fans are ‘Nduthi’ guys
Chelsea painfully lost to Liverpool in the final of the prestigious Carabao Cup on February 27. A Loss that has rubbed off pretty painfully amongst most loyal fans more so the die-hard ones here in Kenya.
Okello, who is a loyal Chelsea fan, hasn't stopped sobbing since the dreadful penalty taken by the acclaimed penalty 'saviour' Kepa Arrizabalaga. The die-hard Chelsea fan also unsurprisingly gets his daily hustle done as a motorbike rider.
Like many other Chelsea fans, it quickly came to my understanding that indeed most riders, popularly known as 'nduthi guys' have a soft spot for the Blues. The banter during late evening shifts plus catching up on previous highlights on their phones never leave Chelsea out of the conversation.
Speaking to Okello who is a regular rider in the Eastlands region, one can actually tell his love for the English club with blue stickers doused all over his boxer motorbike. His compatriots around him also seemed to be in full praise of the team even after the painful loss.
Asking why many Chelsea fans around Nairobi are mostly 'nduthi' riders, Okello without hesitation said, "Juu sisi ni watu wa nguvu" meaning that they or rather the riders are a special breed hence following a special team.
Okello went on to elaborate how the fan craze was 'founded' when former president Mwai Kibaki zero-rated taxes on motorbikes/nduthis. Chelsea was seemingly a powerhouse then and hence the business of motorbikes and riders themselves had to one way or another join a winning team.
Okello's remarks had me in deep thoughts that lingered on how the explanation might just be enough for my huge question.
Yet again, there just might be a social-cultural angle towards it. Chelsea's relevance amongst Kenyans surprisingly began in the famous 2005/2006 season with legendary Jose Mourinho being at the helm of managerial position.
In Kenya and Africa to some extent, Ivorian great Didier Drogba led the new wave of fans just like Thierry Henry did with Arsenal back in 2001/2002.
With Arsenal fans, there are certain identifiers that make fans love a team. Coincidentally, English football was becoming gradually accessible to many through Dstv and GoTv as were 'nduthis' as a mode of transport. The nduthi guys would ferry people to bars for the sizzling games then take them back home.
Okello's remarks were now becoming clearer and making more sense. In 2009, the then Minister of Transport Amos Kimunya zero-rated all motorbikes below 250cc; a move aimed at encouraging more youth to take up self-employment in the sector, and on, came an influx of new fans with motorbikes.
Soon a new fan base was born. Hail 'Nduthi FC'.