A FEW days ago I was sitting in Zakayo’s Pub, my local watering hole in Manzese, trying to beg mzee Zakayo to extend my beer credit and cure my thirst.
I tried to remind him that I was one of his oldest customers who has always been faithful, despite the fact that other pubs have been cropping up in Manzese like mushroom, but I have always been loyal to him.
I reminded him how some years back I bailed him from a police cell after he was arrested for extending regular drinking hours.
Sometimes trying to convince a nun to take a selfie in a brothel full of half-naked girls is easier than trying to convince that old man to water your throat on credit.
I even reminded him that I was the one who acted as the ‘mshenga’ when his daughter was betrothed, despite the fact that the girl was notorious when it comes to being generous to the male species.
The old man did not even bother to look at me as he continued scribbling in his ‘Black Book’, which is known to include names of hardened credit swallowers, including yours truly.
I was in the process of surrendering my driving licence to the old man so that I can at least swallow a few cold brown bottles when Jatello, that fellow from the lake side walked in, wearing a smile that would have made a jackpot winner go green in envy.
“Omera, why do you look as if poverty has visited your pockets once again, tell the old man to bring us cold drinks and celebrate Tanzania’s victory,” he said as he pulled a chair.
The old man shot him a scathing look before demanding for money for the drinks, which Jatello handed him with all the pomp of a Luo fellow.
I told him to elaborate and explain why we should celebrate Tanzania’s victory, because as far as I knew the national team was not playing and the Uganda war was won many years ago.
He told me that Tanzania had placed its bid to host the Africa Cup of Nations 2027 together with Uganda and Kenya and the bid sailed through.
He said that the news means that in 4 years’ time, we should expect to bump shoulders with great players like Sadio Mane and Mo Salah on the streets of Manzese.
“Omera, something like this needs proper planning, because imagine taking someone like Mo Salah to Aisha Mabiriani for a meal of tasty biryani, or taking Sadio Mane to Edo’s for a plate of chips mayai,” he said enthusiastically.
And that is how we started to strategise on how we were going to get a share of the dollars from great African players when they start streaming in.
I reminded him that the competition will be co-hosted by two other countries, and he said in that case we will need to spread our investment.
That is why I was not surprised when later that night when I crawled in bed several hours later, the first dream that I had involved AFCON 2027.
In my dream, I saw myself at the airport holding a placard with the name Mo Salah written on it, as I waited for the Egyptian player to come out after clearing with customs.
I saw Oscar the Hawker on the other side of the waiting area and he was looking at me suspiciously, before he moved closer to me.
“Baba Boyi, is that the Mo Salah who plays for Liverpool or it is another one from Sumbawanga!” he asked loudly and all the other people turned to stare at me and peered closely at my placard.
I was about to respond to him when I heard an angry voice asking me whether I was the driver.
I looked up and saw Mo Salah standing next to me with an angry look, pulling two heavy suitcases behind him.
Most of the people tried to get closer to him and take selfies and I saw Oscar the Hawker eying his money bag around his waist the way a hungry hyena looks at an injured goat.
I quickly took his bag and motioned him to follow me to the parking lot, where my collection of metal, which is a sorry excuse of a car was waiting, gleaming under the sun because I had taken it to a car wash after so many years.
I managed to open the boot after several efforts, but the passenger door refused to open even after I kicked it violently several times.
Mo Salah was already fuming when I told him that he had to squeeze through the driver’s side to access the passenger seat, and his beard bristled in the sun as he cursed in Arabic.
As if it was determined to be in its worst behaviour that day, the collection of metal coughed several times like an asthmatic patient who was about to kick the bucket, sputtered like a broken generator and finally started in a cloud of heavy smoke.
All this time my visitor was looking at me the way a hangman looks at a convict and by the time we reached his hotel, he was ready to commit cold blooded murder.
I understood how he felt, because apart from coming to a sudden stop in the middle of the road several times, I was pulled over by a traffic police who looked very happy when he was taking his notebook from his pocket, he looked like someone whose Christmas had come earlier.
He came to my side and looked at me with a very wide, sinister grin on his face and I can swear he was salivating when he was making mental calculation of the money he was going to reap from me.
He looked at the passenger side and noticed Mo Salah sitting there with an angry look on his face. They stared at each for several seconds before the officer leaned closer.
“Mzee, that chap on the other side looks exactly like Mo Salah, are you sure it is not him,” he whispered harshly in my ear.
I told him of course he was the one, and that I was taking him to his hotel after picking him at the airport. He looked at me suspiciously before pulling out his walkie talkie.
“Afande afande, I have a case of kidnapping, bring in reinforcement over, the victim is Mo Salah, over, the kidnapper is an old man with a serious kitambi over,” he said through the crackling radio.