City’s social halls cry for renovation

By Charles Thuku
Wednesday, August 26th, 2020
Photos taken on July 20, 2020 showing the state of Joseph Kang’ethe Social Hall in Nairobi. Photo/PD/RODGERS NDEGWA
In summary

Although sporting activities could return soon, the disruption caused by Covid-19 has exposed the decrepit state of many of Nairobi’s social halls that host indoor games.

Halls that used to fill to the brim are now closed after the government outlawed crowds at sports activities and public gatherings to arrest the spread of coronavirus, but the state of the facilities should jolt  everyone concerned into action.

Popularly known as Ololo gymnasium by estate youth, Kaloleni Social Hall is an example of the facilities within Kaloleni estate where boxing legends trained, including Olympian David “The Giant” Anyim, Harold Obunga, Fredrick Onyango Tabu and Samson “Savon” Angogo.

The hall was built to provide a space for the community members to enjoy a variety of activities in one location.

Tucked a few metres from City Stadium, the hall used to host high profile boxing events such as Kenya Open, National Novices and Intermediate Championships.

When the People Sport team visited the facility, it found no soul save for a bunch of youths who were uprooting bushes at the adjacent Memorial Library.

A youth we spoke to said nothing has been going on at the main hall which has forced boxers who would wish to keep fit to use the nearby handball pitch for work outs.

Photos taken on July 20, 2020 showing the state of Joseph Kang’ethe Social Hall in Nairobi. PD/RODGERS NDEGWA

“As you can see, the main hall is under lock and key and is picking dust. What the boxers normally do is to jog around the handball pitch and then leave in the evening before dark sets in,” said the youth while peeping through a broken window pane at the hall.

Outside the hall, the facility depicts a sorry state of infrastructure with rubble and building blocks lying near washrooms with a worker expressing fears that it could be just a matter of time before they are stolen.

An amateur boxer who only identified himself Curtis urged Nairobi County to consider rehabilitating the centre even as the government reconsiders allowing sports to return.

“The boxers who used to train at the hall are turning rusty and to me, it would be in order if the county reopens doors and enacts conditions of sanitizing and social distancing. I think it would also be helpful if the entire is rehabilitated and modernised,” said Curtis.

At Pumwani Social Hall, which is better known as Pal Pal, the story is the same.

County security personnel who we met on the tour of the hall said they are not allowed to give the media consent to take pictures.

The only activity here appears to be the payment of a fee by the public to use the toilet as well as the parking bay.

Pal Pal had been a training venue for some of Kenya’s greatest pugilists among them African Boxing Union middleweight champion Rayton Okwiri.

 It was also the venue in which legends Joseph ‘Mau Mau” Njoka, David Kiilu, Joseph Akhasamba and Joseph Miyumo trained upcoming boxers.

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