After the festival I was off on my own heading south. The next stop was Blantyre which has been my favorite city so far in Africa. Its clean and calm streets are relieving after spending time inhaling burning plastic and feeling trapped in an overpopulated smokey haze that tends to have been my African city experience. It was a big soccer game at the stadium, local teams red, People’s Team vs Blue, Noma. No glass allowed so Raymond, a friend I met who grew up in Blantyre, and I stocked up on alcohol and transferred it to plastic. The energy in the line leading up to the stadium intensified the heat of the intense sun. 1000 kwacha to enter, less than $2 USD, but still far to much for many to give up here.
Friendly faces greeted and laughed with the mzungu (me). Curious what side the white person was on, a man decked out with a red suit something out of a circus tried to convince me to go for Red. With the exception of a small group of white people being shuffled off to the VIP section led by a Malawian man, it appeared I was an extremely rare breed out of the thousands there. Inside the stadium there was never a lack of fascinating sights, men dressed as women in their teams garb (very interesting given the extreme homophobia that exists here), a couple where the man had a hilarious mask making awkward jestures to the crowd as he passed. Myself along with my fellow Blues on my side of the crowd was dying with laughter. The teams were evenly matched and played extremely aggressively. Halftime was histarical as 3 acrobats jumped through hoops contorting their bodies in seemingly impossible ways.
Near the end of the game Raymond announces we must go as things are going to get violent. Red was going to win 1-0 and the sides of the crowd separated by color leaving a large gap in the stands. Outside the stadium i was intrigued to see what would happen and so we stayed observing from a hill outside. The crowd grew more chaotic as people poured from the stadium. Raymond then insisted we leave as the intensity grew…within a minute the mob begins to flee running abruptly and kicking up a dust storm. Before I knew what happened my face and eyes were burning like never before as I fled the area with Raymond down a dusty trail. People shared water to wash the tear gas from their faces as we made our way to safety. I laughed off the tears with other fans who found me amusing.