Isaac Juma

Isaac Juma dances to the tunes of Kenya Police Band during Mashujaa Day celebrations at Afraha Stadium, Nakuru, on October 20, 2015. 

| File | Nation Media Group

Adieu Juma, heaven has a new sports cheerleader in Isaac Juma

What you need to know:

  • Kenyans woke up to the news at the wee hours of Thursday morning and an avalanche of condolences from people of all walks of life has descended upon social and mainstream media.
  • To say that Juma loved football – and many other sports too – would be a cruel understatement
  • His support for Harambee Stars also came with rewards and travelled countries with the national team, cheering them whole-heartedly

Isaac Juma, the unofficial Kenyan mascot is no more. His eventful life was brutally cut short by a machete-wielding assailant at his rural home in Bukaya village, Mumias, in Kakamega County on Wednesday night.

Kenyans woke up to the news at the wee hours of Thursday morning and an avalanche of condolences from people of all walks of life has descended upon social and mainstream media. 
It’s a palpable sadness and confusion as to why anyone would want to harm that jovial and cheerful soul. What is experienced now is both frustration and an impotent rage that shall not find a palliative soon.

To say that Juma loved football – and many other sports too – would be a cruel understatement. To him it was life itself. “Hii iko kwa damu (this is in the blood),” he often said. He just couldn’t help it. He confessed that he once left a sick child with his wife in the house to go and cheer the national team Harambee Stars.

Painted in the colour of the national flag, Juma showed his patriotism in the best way he knew how. He supported all national teams in any sport and seeing him at basketball and volleyball matches and all sporting venues was a pleasure. “Sijui nitembee kwa miguu nikirudi Mumias?” he once posed.

Harambee Stars had lost yet another match and Juma wanted to punish himself even more by walking some 400km back home. He was really hurting inside. That was the man.

Lessons of life are never taught directly in school; they just come mostly with some irrepressible characters. It is as if nature must make a man narrow in order for him to be more effective. Just like a well-whetted knife, Juma was sharp and resilient. He stuck to his character and made his obsession earn him a rank in society.

You could not ignore him and those that saw him decades ago doing the same stuff and adding even more colour to his body came to see his stature grow to realms they never thought possible. His support for Harambee Stars also came with rewards and travelled countries with the national team, cheering them whole-heartedly.

It’s a lesson that he has left to our youth; no task can be accomplished without rigidity of spirit. Quitting is not an option. In November last year, he earned the Kenya Premier League Chairman’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to developing the local football league. The award comes with a Sh100, 000 cash prize.

AFC Leopards patron Musalia Mudavadi described Juma as an inspiration to the nation. “I am saddened by his death. He was an ever-present face on the terraces working up fans and his energy was a motivation to the boys on the pitch. May his family and friends find peace.”

“A true legend and an inspiration to so many in the game. His passion as a 12th man was unmatched,” added Siaya Senator James Orengo.

Deputy President William Ruto tweeted: “He was a friendly, ever jovial and passionate soccer supporter. Our thoughts are with the family and soccer fraternity during this painful time.” 

Juma has done his part and his killers do not know just what they have done to local football. They must be brought to book as fast as possible and we wish they just surrender themselves to the authorities.

We know not what prompted them to do the heinous deed and what they hoped to gain from it but we do know that they have done the nation a great disservice. Sometime back, he was quoted saying that his life was in danger. Nobody took him seriously. Now we all know what he meant and it’s too late to prevent what has already happened.

Those murderers must feel the heat until they smart from it. They must be made to know just what they have done the enormity of their crime must haunt them behind bars. They have killed a hero and any new football match shall seem incomplete with this man missing on the touchlines!
We need not say more. Let justice be done.

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