Good riddance to a bully federation that utterly failed the integrity test

Amina Mohamed

From left, Football Kenya Federation inspection committee chairman Michael Kimoko, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and Sports Principal Secretary Joe Okudo during a press conference at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on November 11, 2021.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Some of us routinely critique those in power because it is our job to do so, and because it is the right thing to do.

Thursday’s decision by Ambassador Amina Mohamed to establish a caretaker committee to oversee Kenyan football touched me deeply.

Even when my back is bent from old age, I doubt I will ever forget the countless instances when I suffered on an individual level during Mwendwa’s tenure because of my job as a journalist. Readers called me “brave,” but few knew the cost of that bravery.

I think it started in 2016, the year Team Change came into power on the backdrop of widespread optimism. I was among those who genuinely believed Mwendwa was a great choice for FKF president.

Shortly after he assumed office, I got information about a questionable incident involving a coach in the women’s national team, so I reached out to him for clarification. At that time, I didn’t know that Mwendwa hated being asked questions.

I felt the matter was urgent, because it was. So I submitted a balanced story, which was carried in this newspaper.

The next day, I received a call from a man with a gruff voice, whom I later came to know was the federation’s technical director.

He wanted to know why I was writing “rubbish” in the newspaper and when I told him to register his concerns with my bosses, he told me that he knew where I lived, and that I should be careful about what I write.

I tried to dismiss the threat, but in my quiet moments later that evening, I felt real fear.

Long story short, I packed a bag and spent that night at my parents’ house. I never again felt safe in that house and a few weeks later, I moved out. This was the beginning of my strained relationship with the regime. It wasn’t the last time I was threatened by Mwendwa’s men.

To the dismay of Mwendwa and those around him, I don’t relent in following stories. So, I continued pursuing the story. Only for my sources within the women’s national team, including the then coach, to tell me that they had been instructed not to take my calls or speak to me!

Just like that, I was branded an inciter, and I am sad to report that to date, many female national team players fear associating with me for fear of victimisation.

As Samuel Gacharira and I were investigating the story of the misuse of the Sh244 million taxpayers’ money in 2019 that Mwendwa is now being investigated for, the threats came thick and fast.

I was told, by none other than the FKF CEO, that I should expect to be sued if I published my findings. Of course I published the dossier, and true to his word, the demand letter arrived at my desk the following day.

I won’t even talk about the countless times Mwendwa has sent individuals to my bosses to try and engineer my sacking, because those attempts got nowhere.

Thursday’s move is a telling demonstration that popularity must never be used to test the limits of shamelessness and impunity.

It will be interesting to see how the next FKF president picks up from this. I hope Mwendwa’s mighty fall will be a lesson to others that often, criticism is not synonymous with malice.

Some of us routinely critique those in power because it is our job to do so, and because it is the right thing to do.

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