The untold sports legacy of Eastlands
For a significant period of time, the athletes of Ofafa Jericho and Maringo Estates in Nairobi have been reminiscing about the past in this neighborhood located in the larger Eastlands region of the city.
For those who grew up in “Ofaro” or “Marish,” as the estate is fondly known by young people familiar with the street slang ‘Sheng,’ they may remember when Maringo Posta, often referred to as “Poi” (short for Posta), used to be one of the most secure estates in Nairobi.
If my memory serves me right, during the late ‘70s up to the late ‘80s, one could not enter or exit the estate without proper identification.
“Who are you going to see? Please register your details here using your national identity card,” some mean-looking guards at the sentry in the main gate would back.
Such protocols have long been discarded, and the locality now allows free movement in and out.
Poi, colloquially known as such, was primarily inhabited by the emerging middle class and recent graduates who had just entered the workforce.
In a nutshell, Poi is considered part of Ofafa Maringo Estate, although there has been an ongoing debate about whether it falls within Makadara or Kamukunji Constituency since it is separated by Ruiruaka Crescent Road.
The precise location of Posta, whether in Makadara or Kamukunji, is less significant than the fact that the estate and its neighboring regions are the breeding ground for some of Kenya’s most remarkable athletes.
This is where the current AFC Leopards Chairman, Daniel Shikanda, and his siblings, the late former KCB FC midfielder Hezekiah Shikanda (A.K.A Hezech), Hezron Shikanda, and Solomon Shikanda, resided.
While attending Dr. Krapf Primary School nearby, these four individuals effectively balanced their education and sports pursuits.
This perhaps explains why Dan later attended Mangu’ High School for his secondary education before joining the University of Nairobi, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree.
During his early career, Dan, one of the few players to have played for both AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia, was a regular for the estate’s football team, Bedjos.
At Bedjos, Dan (known as Jaya) played under player-coach Barrack “Ogoji” Ouma and Churchill Ouma. The team went on to produce top players like former Harambee Stars captain Musa “Otero” Otieno, his younger brother Eric “Tojo” Omondi, George “Jojo” Waweru, Manasseh “Chichi” Imbo, Martin Ogore, Edward Munandi (his elder sibling), Bernard “Benty” Amwayi, Patrick Kathiari, and Samuel “Quantarro” Ouma.
Imbo, who had previously played for Tusker, Kenya Pipeline, and Sony Sugar, later earned recognition by winning the Golden Boot in the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Premier League in the early 2000s while at Sony.
However, perhaps unknown to many, Posta Maringo is also home to Gor Mahia legends James “Kadir” Ogolla and Swaleh Oswayo (formerly known as Martin Ochieng’ Oswayo before converting to Islam), who now lead quiet lives in the neighborhood after retiring from professional football.
In the past, Kadir’s peers in Gor Mahia, coached by the late Ugandan great David Otii, included Paul “Oduwo” Cobra and George “Best” Yoga, who also hailed from the same neighborhood. Former Luo Union FC star Eric Omonge (may he rest in peace) from the neighboring Jericho Estate would often join them, either to play the game or impart knowledge to the younger generation.
To put things into perspective, football in Maringo Estate and Jericho was like a religion, as both estates produced players who were considered among the best in the world’s most popular sport.
Beyond football, Maringo Posta Hall within the estate has produced internationally renowned boxers, including Otii Tyson, Rajab “Jammez” Kimori, and Maina “Maich Soldier” Mwangi.
The neighborhood’s focal point would be incomplete without mentioning the multi-talented Hellen Chemtai, an alumna of Dr. Krapf Primary School, Ngara Girls, and Pangani Girls High School. Chemtai, now a senior clerk at Kenya Railways, needs no introduction, having excelled in athletics for the Kenya Railways team over a decade ago.
She was also a key member of the InterCapitale “Whites” hockey team, which clinched multiple titles in the national women’s hockey league several years ago.