kibera celtic

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kibera celtic

Post  niall on Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:51 am

Fucking fantastic stuff this

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A football team, born out of the ashes of turmoil and violence, now stands as a beacon of hope for peace.

In late 2007 and early 2008, almost 1,500 lost their lives in what is referred to as ‘the post-election violence’ in Kenya. Politicians representing their own tribes paid gangs of young men to attack, maim and murder mostly innocent members of opposing tribes. The majority were hacked to death using machetes and pangas.

Many of those killings were in the slums of Nairobi and most of those in Kibera, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest slum, where 1.2 million people live in crowded, disease infested shacks in an area of less than two-square kilometres. Two gang leaders, feared by all, led the violence in Kibera. They were known as The General and Deputy General, real names: John Oyoo and Bernard Ngira. They led a gang of over two-hundred youths who roamed the sewage-ridden alleys of Kibera, high on drugs supplied by the politicians, looking for potential victims.

Both men are Luo and the targets of their wrath were mainly members of the ruling Kikuyu tribe. As the violence escalated, Kikuyu businesses were destroyed including the largest market in all Kenya which was controlled by the Kikuyu, the Toi Market.

It was at this point that John and Bernard’s lives were to change forever.

They had led the attack on the Toi Market, driving small business owners out of Kibera. Suddenly, there was a shortage of even the most basic commodities and, in particular, food. As local charities began emergency distribution, the gang surrounded the trucks carrying flour and demanded the cargo be handed to them. One aid worker, Andrew Onyanga, stood in their way. As Bernard raised his machete to strike, local women of all tribes surrounded Andrew insisting that they would die before letting the food into the hands of the gang. They knew that their families would almost certainly perish from starvation should they not act.

The machete was lowered.

This incident was to begin a process of healing which would transform Kibera itself. For Andrew had recognised a sense of desperation in young men who felt they had nothing to lose. In fact, they had nothing. And yet, faced by mothers who had been ready to die for their children, they had pulled back.

According to John: “We understood for the first time that everyone was the same; that they, like us, were just fighting to survive poverty and that when anyone died, the colour of their blood was the same as us.”

Just a few days later, as the Toi Market still smouldered, Andrew sought out those two young men to set them a challenge. If they would help rebuild the market and provide security from looters, he would ensure that they and other members of the Luo community would be given the opportunity to set up their own businesses there. Within three months, the market was not only restored, it had expanded to include not just Luo but many more tribes. And John and Bernard had created a thriving business building metal cases for storing books and documents in schools across Nairobi.

Film-maker Jamie Doran had been in Kenya producing a documentary about slum-dwellers when he came across them at their base on the perimeter of the market. The three had one thing in common – football. Kenyans are fanatical followers of the English Premiere League due to extensive coverage on television. But John, an Arsenal supporter, and Bernard who roots for Liverpool were riveted to the spot as Doran regaled them with tales of his adventures following Glasgow Celtic around the world. But it was when he explained why Celtic had had begun in the first place that recognition of a common cause spread across their faces.

That the team had been set up to help the poor of Glasgow’s East End struck a cord, and there began an almost conspiratorial collaboration between the three men which was to lead to the most extraordinary outcome. The aim: to build a football club along the same charitable lines as Celtic, but with an additional, crucial purpose. This must be a club which united young men from the rival tribes of Kibera.

Kenyan teams are split along tribal differences, the major clubs representing their own ethnic heritage. The dream, an impossible one most people said, was to create the country’s first football force for change – something to catch the imagination of youths brought up in an atmosphere of hate and mistrust.

They were in a race against time, knowing that with new elections planned for 2012, the violence would almost certainly return. They had to build something great that the poor of all tribes could rally to.

A team had dropped out of the Kenyan 2nd Division (Nairobi) and John and Bernard decided to apply to replace it. It was a long shot, as teams are normally required firstly to play through the lower leagues and gain promotion over a period of years, but the sudden chaos caused by the defunct team provided a unique opportunity and Kibera Celtic became the newest member of Division II.

Early in 2009, the team ran on to a bone-dry, strutted sandy pitch in front of the proverbial one-man-and-a-dog. Mostly barefoot and wearing Celtic tops with sponsors names dating back up to 20 years, they surprised everyone with their incredible skills, self-taught in the slums using rolled-up cloth as a ball and tree branches for goalposts.

By the end of 2009, the slum of Kibera had awakened. Now playing in brand new football strips and boots donated by Jim Mullins, a friend of Doran’s, they had taken the league by storm. Despite having to play two matches per week (to make up for fixtures missed by the defunct team) they came fourth to win promotion, watched now by crowds in their thousands.

In November that same year, Kibera Celtic played their first game in the Kenyan 1st Division. Today (June 2010), against unimaginable odds and far richer teams, they stand top of that league by six clear points. Promotion to the ultimate goal, the Premiere Division, beckons.

Outside the top league, fans get in to grounds for free. So John, Bernard and Jamie (with help from many friends) have financed the entire exercise themselves. Their key target is to purchase a second-hand bus which would not only provide transport for the team to travel ever-greater distances required through promotion, but would also provide regular income for the club when used for carrying fare-paying passengers during the week.

Whatever happens, for two young men who grew up in extreme poverty and violence, the real promotion they seek is that of peace. When Doran visited recently, he bluntly asked the entire squad of players to raise their hands dependent on which tribe they belonged to. Out of thirty young men, twelve separate tribes were represented.

These days, Kibera Celtic are a regular feature in the Kenyan sports pages and even television reports. As election year draws closer, the SlumBhoys want the true message behind their motto to reach the widest possible audience: ‘MANY TRIBES, ONE TEAM’

http://kiberaceltic.ning.com/
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  clagan on Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:02 am

they're absolutely fantastic and its a superb story. i'm hopefully going to Africa to do some volunteer work next year and i'm planning on bringing as many old celtic tops as possible with me. its great to see the club reveered for its charitable and social beginings
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  niall on Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:05 am

clagan wrote:they're absolutely fantastic and its a superb story. i'm hopefully going to Africa to do some volunteer work next year and i'm planning on bringing as many old celtic tops as possible with me. its great to see the club reveered for its charitable and social beginings

good stuff. I was in SA in 2004 working in a shelter for street kids. Fantastic experience
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  clagan on Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:10 am

one of my friends back home did the same Niall, said it was really tough though. he was working with aid's orphans and said it was heartbreaking.
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  niall on Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:14 am

clagan wrote:one of my friends back home did the same Niall, said it was really tough though. he was working with aid's orphans and said it was heartbreaking.

part of my work was rebuilding a school for kids with AIDS in one of the townships in Durban. Heartbreaking alright, but the warmth of the kids was so uplifting as well.
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  clagan on Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:18 am

what organisation was it with Niall?
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  niall on Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:19 am

clagan wrote:what organisation was it with Niall?

i went theough the oblateyouthservice and the place over there was called streetwise
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  niall on Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:22 am

http://www.street-wise.co.za/

on the volunteers section there is statement from myself.
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  niall on Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:26 am

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Re: kibera celtic

Post  clagan on Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:30 am

nice one, the group i was going to go with a few years back were looking almost a grand for me to go, i thought it was a bit much to pay to volunteer. how much did yours cost?
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  niall on Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:32 am

clagan wrote:nice one, the group i was going to go with a few years back were looking almost a grand for me to go, i thought it was a bit much to pay to volunteer. how much did yours cost?

bout 700/800 quid. Its achievable if you do fundraising events
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  clagan on Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:41 am

i could pay it i'm just tight. if i was going i think i'd rather go a bit more long term, 6 months or so.
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  niall on Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:43 am

clagan wrote:i could pay it i'm just tight. if i was going i think i'd rather go a bit more long term, 6 months or so.

theres numerous groups thatll let you go for that length
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  clagan on Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:19 am

i'll check closer to the time but 6 months in Africa, 6 in south america would be amazing. decided to finally go see the world before i settle.
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  niall on Fri Jun 18, 2010 1:30 am

clagan wrote:i'll check closer to the time but 6 months in Africa, 6 in south america would be amazing. decided to finally go see the world before i settle.

sounds like a good idea. South America is soimewhere id love to see, doubt id persuade the missus though
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  clagan on Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:08 am

show her a picture of Machu Pichu or Angels falls and say "we could be there". my Mrs is only 21 so she's at the right age to go travelling, once she finishes her teaching probation year we can go.
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  niall on Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:32 am

clagan wrote:show her a picture of Machu Pichu or Angels falls and say "we could be there". my Mrs is only 21 so she's at the right age to go travelling, once she finishes her teaching probation year we can go.

lucky you, mines a deputy head so taking a year isnt an option
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  clagan on Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:59 am

are you sleeping with the boss Niall?
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Re: kibera celtic

Post  niall on Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:01 am

clagan wrote:are you sleeping with the boss Niall?

not my deputy. Shes in a primary im in a secondary
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