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Kenya's fan (SM)

Stephen Mudiari/Twenty Ten

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Isaac Juma is not an ordinary soccer fan. Otherwise known as AFC (after his local tean AFC Leopards), or Ingwe (the leopard), Juma has come to be associated with football over the years in Kenya.

The expressive 42-year-old father of ten features on television and radio stations whenever there is a match. Every so often, he travels the 160km to Nairobi to watch football. He loves to entertain the crowds at the stadium with his dancing and singing, and his body is a work of art, painted from head to toe in the colours and slogans of his team.

To meet Ingwe in the run up to a game means understanding his silence as he prepares mentally for the task ahead. For the 160 km that we travelled to the game, he rarely spoke. He was a different person from the man I met a few days previously for a photo shoot.

“I don’t know what is wrong with me and football,” he said. “It’s something in me that I don’t understand at all. I once asked the doctors if they can drain my blood and replace it. It’s like witchcraft, I am crazy. I just love football.”

Nigeria beat Kenya 3-2 in the World Cup qualifier match in Nairobi, qualifying them to take part in the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.

A crestfallen Juma left the stadium after the match. His face was pale and the paint on his cheeks was beginning to crack.

“Kenya was just beginning to play. But the referee was against us,” he said.

Juma lives with his two wives and ten children in his rural home in Mumias. During the week he stays in a rented single room with a relative in Nakuru town. His dream is to travel to South Africa in 2010 to cheer participating African teams in the World Cup taking place on the continent for the first time in history.

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