I recently spent some time in Germany and coincidentally, it was during the World Cup in South Africa.
When Germany played Ghana I had the opportunity to watch the game among an estimated 300,000 fans (compared to Nyayo Stadium\’s 30,000) who gathered at the Brandenburg Tor to watch the game on giant screens. Even though this was not inside a stadium, it was akin to being in one.
I was obviously supporting the Ghanaian team and was rather apprehensive being in the midst of such a large crowd of German supporters.
Given my experience here (in Kenya), I expected to get a backlash from the home fans but what I got was far from it.
When I joined the long queues of football fans making their way to the Brandenburg Gate, there was a feeling of order and security.
It was easy to spot men and women of the law everywhere. The heavy security presence was a real assurance that we were all safe no matter which team we were supporting.
A fleet of police vehicles was parked both sides of the 1.5km stretch. These included rescue cars, ambulances and mini-buses from Germany\’s security department.
There was also a team of nurses and first-aid givers ready with all the necessary equipment and vehicles.
While I admired the heavy, friendly security presence, I realised fans had to walk or use public transport to enter the street. Those using their cars had to park them far away and walk for about 20 minutes. There was a lot of space near the Brandenburg Gate for the police to drive their vehicles around and ensure order.
At the entrance, there were many police officers screening each and every fan.
Everyone going to watch football at public fields knows glass bottles are not allowed in. I could see people hurrying up to finish their beers and initially I could not understand why until I and my fellow Africans were stopped and asked to trash our bottles in a huge bin located at the entrance.
Other things considered to be weapons or dangerous were also not allowed and people had to leave them behind. This is the order that came from the security officers even before they screened us.
Vuvuzelas were also not allowed, and when one of us tried to look for a place to hide it so that he could go in, he was firmly told he would either go away with his vuvuzela or throw it away to enter the street.
Inside there are bars, restaurants and all other sorts of shops and services. People drank beer in plastic glasses and bottles.
I enjoyed the maturity of the fans, even those who were drunk were orderly! No one pushed anyone. Everyone supported their team in peace.
The order came in handy because football is for everyone. Families go there with babies on prams, the paralysed on wheelchairs and the old supporting themselves with walking aids to watch their favourite teams play.
From the look of things, everything was well planned right from the government, to the football organisers, venue organisers including the service providers.
As I reflect on Saturday\’s event at Nyayo Stadium that left seven people dead, I feel that all should shoulder responsibility.
The government is at fault for failing to ensure proper security and emergency response during the match. The organizers of the game are equally to blame for evidently poor organization. The fans too must take their fair share of blame for being disorderly, leading to a stampede.
Kenya has to promote a culture of order and peace at all times. Fans have to know it is not their right to violate order whether it is raining or not. They also have to give each other space no matter who or which team they support.
Because of our poor organisational skills, carelessness, ignorance and selfishness, any desire to go and watch a football game here is totally gone.