Thousands thronged Gisambai Secondary School in Vihiga County yesterday to bid farewell to Joe Kadenge.
Led by African Union Special Envoy Raila Odinga, Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa and Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli, the leaders paid glowing tribute to a selfless man who gave his all for the country.
The leaders called on the government to honour heroes, who are living in squalor.
“I have been saddened by Joe’s death but now I am happy that he has got his last respects. My friend would have loved everything that has happened during his funeral,” Raila, who also presented President Uhuru Kenyatta’s condolences, said.
The ODM leader steered off politics. He noted that Kadenge never dwelled on his problems whenever they met.
Mudavadi said time was ripe for the country to create a Hall of Fame for heroes so that all of them can be recognised.
“Joe was such a strong character when he held on the ball that we marvelled at his skills, we who had the opportunity to watch him. I wish we could be having players who play so selflessly like him,” Atwoli said.
Vihiga Senator George Khaniri regretted that despite Kadenge being a household name in Kenyan football, he lived a difficult life, and time has come for the government to create a sustainable means of helping national heroes.
“The president cannot meet all the national heroes in their homes and offer help. That is why it is prudent to create a sustainable way of life for them for good through relevant laws,” Mr Khaniri said.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria said Parliament will come up with laws to support locals players so that they can restore glory in football.
John Nyawang recounted how Kadenge welcomed him to Harambee Stars. “It was pure bliss playing alongside him. He never hated anyone. And that is why he was so swift and happy even while terrorising other defenders,” he said.
Cecafa secretary general Nicholas Musonye, in a speech read by Jacob Ghost Mulee said Kadenge made the regional tournament a sight to behold, and recognisable.
Veteran broadcaster Jack Oyoo Sylvester kept the crowd abreast with soccer stories, occasionally turning the funeral into a football commentary.
The family eulogised Kadenge as a loving husband, who despite being polygamous treated his two wives equally.
His widow, Maria Kang’ethe noted that Kadenge taught her how to love unconditionally.
“He was a man who was full of life, a man who was bigger in his own right than most of us, he was loved by many and loved them right back. I thank God, that I had the opportunity to share life with him,” she said.
Kadenge was laid to rest at his home at 5pm.
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