Growing up in Parklands the familiar things to me were the people who lived in my compound and City Park because it was my short cut to school and it had the best secret paths, a maze, abandoned buildings, and cemeteries to explore. Despite the monkeys. I haven’t been back to City Park properly since 1998.
Anyway, the cricket grounds at the sports club. The sports club was mostly not open to non-members, as most clubs. But lucky for me, I had an older cousin who was a gym instructor there and sometimes he would sneak us in because my relatives especially from my mother’s side like to be seen at and doing their best. At the gate I would say I was going to see him. They would let me in. I used to go say hi to my cousin, look at the gym machines, the lockers and the showers. Every time, without fail, I had to look at those things. After that I would go to the swimming pool area and then later stand at the edge of the cricket grounds and start imagining things. The only African people who could comfortably claim that space were the cricket legends some or one of whom lived in some small staff quarters right between the club and a hospital. So I stood at the edge of the grounds and tried to picture them on there. I didn’t even know how, why and what the game was about or why it was so important that it took up all that space. But I knew the young names—Obuya, Tikolo, Odumbe et al.—and I bumped into them once in a while on Mtama Road so I could at the very least, in my mind, see them walking on that green place probably as members…or non-members… It was the 90s and I was not even a proper teenager yet but I knew things and people. I was curious about the exclusivity of this place so I kept going back hoping to find something out, and the staff let me in. I was always there mid-morning. Hardly any members were there at that time. The best time.
The full story appears on the drr issue of Place. Order your copy here.