‘Kama mans wako huwa habet, (If your boyfriend/husband does not gamble)you are the man in the relationship’ – Kenyan Proverb.
Just before the 2014 World Cup, there was not much gambling taking place in Kenya. In fact, the notable gambling activity back then, at least from where I come from, was Inooro FM’s Kanya Kanya. Then SportPesa happened! And as you would expect, the moment they seemed to be making money out of it, every able investor thought it was a good idea too and opened a gambling platform. Now we have over 50 Gambling sites in Kenya, all sounding like cousins to each other. Betway, Pawabets, Betika, Betpawa, Betin, Sportybet, 1XBet, Odibets, Bet365, Betyetu, Elitebet, Kwikbet, Betboss, Supabet 247, Mozzartbet, Eazi-Bet, M-Bet, MCheza. The list goes on.
As per my own independent investigations, almost every Kenyan man aged between 18 and 35 has an account in at least 3 of the above platforms. In fact, the number of Text Messages they receive from these sites is probably more than the messages from their girlfriends. They even call you by your name.
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Another more popular Kenyan Proverb is ‘Aki ni Team Moja tu iliniangusha’ (Goodness! Only One Team Let me down!)
The Science behind this still beats me till date. What are the chances of Millions of Gamblers losing out on Millions of Shillings every now and then just because of one game? Further analysis will reveal that that one game only required say One More Goal. I know several Kenyans who are living from hand to mouth and one extra goal would have changed that, weeks, months or years ago. It is one painful feeling. I know it since I have been there.
Yet do these people still load their accounts with their last dollar and give themselves another chance? Yes.
I will tell you why.
Let’s define the word gambling. According to Wikipedia, Gambling is the wagering of money or something of value (referred to as “the stakes”) on an event with an uncertain outcome, with the primary intent of winning money or material goods.
The key word is Uncertain Outcome. You never know. You just never know. As per Napoleon Bonaparte’s famous quote, a leader is a dealer in hope. What SportPesa and company do is trade hope with money. And who can blame them? The young men of our generation have lost hope in succeeding in life the trajectory way of going to school, working hard, getting good grades, graduating and landing a well – paying job. They look around themselves and see successful people who do not have half as much knowledge as they do and only happened to be descendants of the right lineage. They see their agemates (Or sometimes their juniors) who have scaled up the ladder of success by stepping on other people’s backs or being lifted up by the mention of their surname.
Therefore, to them, education seems to be a gamble by itself. A gamble that takes years to know whether you have won or not. A blood, sweat and tears kind of gamble that is boring and unattractive. A gamble whose investment is a hundred thousand times more than the 100 bob you require to place a Mega Jackpot. So their sub – conscious goes to work and convinces them to invest all their HELB money on Manchester United vs Liverpool.
Manchester United is a beast at home. They have an unbeaten home record stretching 24 weeks now. Liverpool have a terrible record at Old Trafford. The last time the Reds won here, Steven Gerrard was still in the squad. And before then, they last took victory home in 2009. Twice in a decade! In addition, Liverpool’s master goal scorer Mohamed Salah is injured while their African hero Sadio Mane is serving his second game out of a three – game red card ban. Paul Pogba, on the other hand, is on a roll. He has scored 3 times and provided 6 assists in his past 5 games. He will also be captaining the Red Devils today.
So all predictions point towards a United Victory. Young boy child places all his rent money on United in a hope to triple it, pay his rent the have some left to survive the rest of the month.
The game starts. United score. Everything is going on well. Then Murphy’s Law happens. Everything that may go wrong will go wrong. United’s award winning goal stopper, David De Gea, gets carded for clipping Firmino inside the box. It’s also a penalty. Firmino drives it home. Lukaku gets sacrificed for Sergio Romero to go between the posts. Lukaku was providing some defensive support to Luke Shaw on that left flank. Now Luke Shaw is by himself. Liverpool go on rampage. In ten minutes, Firmino adds a second. In another 5 minutes, Lucas Moura bags a third.
The uncertain outcome is now certain. Man United are losing at home to Liverpool for the first time in 5 years and for the 3rd time in 10 years. Who would have known David De Gea would get carded? Maybe, just maybe, if the tables had not turned, the young boy child would be three times richer. Now he is penniless, hungry and has not paid his rent. What does he do? He borrows from Branch. Branch have blacklisted him so he moves over to Tala. Tala can only trust him with Ksh 500 so he moves over to KCB MPESA.
These ones seem to trust him with Ksh 1,300. Now he has Ksh 1,800.
What if I place half of this on Chelsea then redeem my rent money? He thinks to himself.
Good idea, huh?
I don’t know the outcome of the game at Stamford Bridge but what I know is that the cycle will continue. Jumping from debt to debt. Winning some few hundreds and occasional thousands amid a cumulative loss of tens of thousands. Suffering from anxiety before each game and depression after each loss. Being so care – free that you spend all your winnings (whenever you are lucky) on booze and drugs in a bid to recover from the stress you have been put through by your bookers the past week or two.
Until you come to your senses and understand three simple concepts of life.
1. Easy come. Easy go.
2. You do not value what you did not sweat for.
3. Nobody ever became rich from winning the lottery.
Good luck, gamblers.