Real Ninjas don’t die, they rest…
It is the 9th of June 2017, a group of 12 very excited rugby fans are meeting up at Nairobi CBD for the maiden rugby na tusker tour.
The trip which had been in the works for a few weeks now, was to Kampala, to watch the Kenya Simbas take on the Uganda Cranes in the first leg of the 2017 Elgon Cup, it was finally D-Day! There is however only one problem, a few hours to the trip, one of us calls in claiming that something had come up and they couldn’t travel (There is always that one guy).
This was less than five hours to the trip, myself and one Sam Nzau who had worked our socks off to make this happen are in panic mode, the budget was for 13 people, tickets, insurance, the full works. “Ah sawa tutaenda tu hivi haina shida…” Just before we had resigned ourselves to this fact, here come a smiling Aleckie, with Syoks hot on his heels.
“Aaah majamaa kuna msee tuko sure hawezi tuangusha, tumuite?” Of course there were a few Kamba words here and there. We consider the logistics and came to the conclusion that, hakuna haja tuchome hii kiti. So the call was made, “Ati mko? Aaaah, of course nikona Yellow fever, mnatoka saa ngapi? Sawa nakam!”
Sam and I still thought that is was a joke and decided to wait for this mystery man, before we made any changes. A few hours later as we started gathering at the bus station, here comes this smiling young man in spectacles, a light blue shirt, khaki pants, spotting this long goatee with a brown sling bag hanging on his shoulder. He joins us, says a jovial hello to Syoks and Aleckie then shared an equally jovial greeting with the rest of us, almost as if we had met before, then proceeds to immediately fit in.. “Ati mmesema tunakamata nini?” He asks.
Little did I know that this jovial young man would become a close friend, a guy I could count on, a real ninja! He was none other than Master Armstrong Githui, better known as Armu.
It goes without saying that Armu owned that tour and came back having made more friends than he had left with. That was Armu, he could fit in anywhere you placed him, even in a very choosy rugby crowd. In Kampala for example, we were among the first fans to arrive at the venue, we had bought regular tickets but easily made it to the VVIP section (It is Uganda, it couldn’t be that hard).
To secure our place in this new found designation, Armu suggested that we buy the cheapest drink on the menu and went on to summon the waiter, we followed his lead. We ordered a couple of bottles, a few moments later a security guard asked to see our tickets seeing as we did not look like VVIPs, guess who he met first? And that is how we were officially elevated to VVIP.
That was the first of very many memorable rugby trips and gigs with Armu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu, Golf, Mwendas to places we never imagined we could bump into each other.
Over and above the dunda, Armu was one of the realest people you would ever meet, he never pretended to be something he was not. Apart from rugby, we immediately connected based on our similar love for sport (there was literally no sport that Armu didn’t have an interest in), good music (tukianzia from Nyash) and a good conversation (read banter!).
It was however how effortless he made all this look that drew people to him, what you saw with Armu, is what you got! He never minced his words and always spoke his mind, he was objective. His friends would attest to the fact that they have found themselves at loggerheads with him, cause he never hid his opinion to suit yours, but at the end of the day you would agree to disagree. Ole wako that his opinion turns out right, hakuna vile angewacha utulie…
Armu was one very sharp man, he would know almost everything about everything and in the rare occasion that he did not, he would make a point of learning about it and you would be sure that he would come back to you with his facts right.
Unlike his online ‘tough guy’ character, Armu was a very compassionate young man, who seemed to carefully pick who he let in. In the thick of the 2019 Magical Kenya Open, which we again worked together on, Armu called me up on Saturday evening, when the pressure was almost at a crescendo.
“Aaaah Master uko?,” he asked, “Manze niko media center kumeshikana” I replied, “Hiyo ni wapi?” He enquired, “Huku chini hole 10 mbele ya club house, si tuchapiane nikimaliza?” I answered in a hurry to dismiss him, knowing he had no idea where hole 10 was. “Sawa, nakam!” He said.
To my surprise a few moments later, here comes the ever smiling Armu, “Maaaster niaje? Nilikua nataka kuja tu kucheki ka uko poa, najua mmetoka mbio, ulikua una sound ume beat aiseh, tuko village, ukimaliza nichapie.” Then he left, I was speechless…
Armstrong Githui was a real Ninja, he was genuine, you could always count on him, he knew how to make things better and if all else failed, there was always that laugh, once he was done, he left.
Like Brian Mutinda put it, “All Armu did was show up, eat his sherehe, banter Arsenal fans and go home. Very unproblematic chap that one!”
Master, just like you showed up exactly three years ago to our shock pale Modern Coast, you have left us in even more shock, I guess your work is done…you sir are a real Ninja! Najua usha anza kupanga kazi huko juu, the back bench pale tour will not be the same again!
See you soon Armu, see you soon!