Nairobi County is the epicenter of sports activities in Kenya. The capital is home to virtually 60 percent of sports teams and activities in the country and is home to Kenya’s best sporting facilities.
The Amani National Congress (ANC) Nairobi branch chairman Brian Mulama who has been appointed the new Nairobi County Executive Committee member (CEC) in charge of talent, skills development, and care (where sports falls) therefore has his work cut out from the very onset. He has a daunting task to ensure that sports thrive in the city which will in turn translate to an improvement across the nation.
I must confess that I was very elated to learn that Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja had nominated Mulama as the Nairobi CEC in charge of Talent and Skills Development. This arises from three major reasons. I have known Brian Mulama for years. We come from the same constituency in Makadara where he unsuccessfully ran for office as a member of the county assembly for Harambee ward in 2017.
Mulama is hard working personality and very personate about what he does. Additionally, he is very knowledgeable and a near perfectionist.
But the role Mulama has been trusted to handle by the Governor is not an easy task. That he must, upon vetting and approval, immediately fold his sleeves and start the daunting work ahead of him.
I was privileged to be among the team that advised former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko to build at least four Standard stadiums in Nairobi. Together with the former Sports CEC Muthoni Ouko and Nairobi Football Kenya Federation officials, we inspected the various playing fields in Nairobi and identified four fields in Nairobi where a proposal to build a standard stadium was presented. The works were to be done at Dandora Stadium, Riruta, Woodley grounds, and Kihumbuini. Jacaranda grounds had revelations that it had ownership rows and therefore the idea was shelved.
With all the knowledge I have gathered, I must tell Mulama that he has an opportunity to build a legacy as the man who turned around the fortunes of sports in the country, that, for a man I personally know is focused and passionate about his roles, I will always be ready to offer my professional advice to him and his officers for the good of sports development.
Sports and talent is a multi-billion industry that has the potential to employ thousands of youths in the city yet, the county continues to grapple with the lack of standard playing fields in the capital. The City-County government today has no single stadium that can be used to host sporting activities.
Sports enthusiasts and players and even struggling parents still prefer their children to school in private schools and academies to afford them an opportunity to explore their talents even after the introduction of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC). This is regardless of the drama and difficulties they go through when eventually trying to transfer their children from a private school to a public school perhaps due to secondary school selection criteria in Kenya which seems to favour pupils from public institutions.
Nairobi has no single indoor arena owned by the County government which can be used for indoor games like volleyball, handball, and basketball, the most popular games after Football and Rugby. It would be prudent to construct courts where these sports will be exercised, furthermore, for years on end, after all the efforts of trying to have a standard county stadium in Nairobi and several standard playing fields, Nairobi still has nothing to show.
The Dandora stadium construction stalled following claims of irregularity and even what was already done has been vandalized.
Sonko just like his predecessor former Governor Dr. Evans Kidero promised a complete renovation of the City Stadium, which is now known as Joe Kadenge Stadium but nothing has since come of it.
Mulama must now see through that the county’s only stadium, the neglected City Stadium is built to international standards and the four other Stadiums which had been lined up for construction are brought to acceptable standards.
Makadara Member of Parliament George Aladwa had also made a promise when he was mayor of Nairobi that there were plans to reconstruct the City stadium which coincidentally was in the Mayor’s ward. This initiative failed to see the light of day and even when the former mayor rose to area MP in the constituency that hosts City Stadium, nothing happened.
Additionally, the foundation of sports is laid in childhood at the school level but Nairobi has very few highly recognized county-owned schools. Mulama has to make a difference and this will only be actualized if he brings education and sports stakeholders together to see that sports become vibrant in schools and the school grounds are upgraded to also be used by local community teams.
Mulama who hails from Makadara constituency has been presented with an opportunity to work for the people of Nairobi and because charity begins at home, I advise the CEC to rehabilitate City Stadium now.
With the current Makadara MP already showing intention to vie for the Governorship in Vihiga county, Mulama has a chance in Makadara if he uses his docket well to serve Nairobians to help achieve the Governor’s rallying call to make Nairobi a city of Dignity and hope where every hustle matters and in his clarion call of making Nairobi work. Over to you bwana Waziri.
Kenn Okaka is the former Head of communications at Football Kenya Federation (FKF)