Despite both countries not doing well at the 2019 African Cup of Nations currently underway in Egypt, neighbours Tanzania and Kenya saw a rejuvenated familiarity which seemed to be under threat.
As the soccer players were getting ready to rumble on the football pitch, outside the sporting arena a spectacle of its own was taking shape. This came in the form of comedy skits that pitted Tanzanian comedians against their Kenyan counterparts.
At the center of it all were two of the most famous comedians in East Africa – Kenya’s Eric Omondi against Idris Sultan from Tanzania.
As the count down to the match kick off time drew closer, fans were kept abreast with happenings of Afcon in a rather different fashion – through comedy.
Even those who’d never before watched a football match (mostly women) had their attention switched to what was termed as a ‘do-or-die’ tie between the two nations. All was on the table as players geared for the match.
Using Instagram as the maiden arena, Kenya’s Omondi threw the first punch by posting a video on his social media account where he is seen showing Kenya’s superiority in terms of its higher currency while Tanzania had little to show on that front.
This prompted a quick response from Tanzania’s funnyman Idris.
In retaliation, the former Big Brother Africa winner had the help of fellow comedian JayMondy and radio personality Meena Ally. In his skit, a rather frustrated Kenyan football player (portrayed by Meena) is seen venting in a post-match interview as a Tanzanian player (portrayed by Mondy) is being boastful at the backdrop.
At this point it was all square and the jury was still out on who emerged victorious in the first round. Omondi, visibly taken aback by the swift response from fellow comedian decided to step it up a notch.
This time he decided to make matters more interesting by using Diamond’s girlfriend Tanasha Donna in his skit, a move that drew a lot of attention from online onlookers and Idris was left with an uphill battle. The battle now wasn’t just against team Tanzania, Diamond Platnumz’ expansive online fans now had a stake in the bout.
To add salt to the injury, Omondo, capitalizing on the just released Diamond song ‘Kanyaga’ made a quick parody where players dressed in Tanzanian jerseys are outmatched and outmaneuvered on a make-shift pitch while Kenyan players chant in jubilation – perhaps this was his prediction of the match outcome.
It was back to the drawing board for team Tanzania as team Kenya was clearly in the lead. In his comeback, Idris went all the way in by making a music video reminiscent of Kenyan boyband Sauti Sol.
The video was a parody to Sauti Sol’s Kuliko Jana. Getting assist from some well-known online celebs, the video drew a lot of laughter and seemed to hit Kenya where it hurt most – an aim at their favourite band.
Again, matters looked all square and it was now up to the men on the field to battle it out on the ground. Taifa Stars had an auspicious start to the match, with just minutes into play they had already inflicted a wound on their rivals on the pitch. However, that was later levelled as Harambe Stars pulled one back.
But moments later Tanzania went ahead again after the talisman Mbwana Smatta, using his skills from Europe put Tanzania ahead yet again, only for Kenya to come and equalize almost instantaneously. It was a game worthy of all the hype online.
Stakes were high as both teams were facing elimination upon defeat – clearly something had to give.
The end result saw Kenya emerge victorious with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Tanzania. Even in dejection Taifa Stars left the pitch with their heads held high. They had put up quite a fight, but they were no match for Kenya’s fielded players.
Perhaps a draw would’ve made matters even more interesting in the final games for each country.
But alas, Tanzania was out of the tournament and Kenya was still hanging by the thread.
Unfortunately the Harambe Stars’ journey was all but over following a 3-0 drabbing at the hands of Sadio Mane and his Senegalese team.
The final nail on Kenya’s coffin was embedded on the last day of the group stage matches after Benin and Guinea Bissau played to a goal-less draw, which meant East African side couldn’t qualify as the best loser.
However, losses on the field for both countries didn’t damp what Idris and Omondi had managed to achieve off the pitch – inciting interest from fans across the region is something that should be commended. At the end of the day we were all united in the game of football – match results notwithstanding.