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1


Africa Games 2000, Nairobi, Kenya


The crowd behind were starting to push. Solomon turned to look, wedged beneath his father’s armpit, but all he could see was a tangle of arm and torso, flushed and angry faces craning to get a glimpse of the fight. They had arrived late. The doors were shut and locked. On the other side of the doors all were turned to the fight. The first heave caught Solomon's father unawares and he lost his footing and was forced to brace himself with one hand against the glass. Solomon edged beneath the stretched arm and slid into the protecting space of a jutting edge of brick. The songs of the crowd had turned to shouts of anger. Across from Solomon was a policeman not much older than himself. He too had been trapped outside when the doors slammed shut. The policeman was struggling to keep the dignity of an upright position, trying to lever himself above the young men straining to see past him, crushed against him. His cap had been nudged back on his head, releasing baubles of sweat that slid down the tribal scars cut vertically in his face. In one hand he held his baton, prodding it into the crowd. But those forced against him could do little to relieve the crush. Hundreds had been trapped in the narrow corridor. Hundreds who had come to see the Games, many of them waving tickets. But Solomon could see through the glass that the arena was full. In the centre the dancing boxers were nearly obscured by the leaning crowd that urged the local fighter on.

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