I first saw, rather than met Benjamin Ayimba, in the January of two-oh-one.
I was living off-campus in Tena, and he was then in Umo, and standing there at that ‘Jam Rescue’ stage waiting for a mat, 24 years old, looking cocky like a buffalo about to charge.
And Ayimba, as that young Pulser, had every reason to be super proud of himself!
For he was just about to go, at the end of that month, to Argentina to represent KENYA at the national seven asides’ rugby tournament, yaani, the World Cup of rugby.
Over the next four years, as the Smitts cleared campus, became a ‘running mate’ for Rainbow (running around NARC rallies), left for Russia for an 18-month dip course in lit at Herzen Uni, returned to zika my ole man, before becoming a paps for Pulse, Ayimba’s life was also unfolding.
He joined ‘Nondies’ in 2002, before going to Brito in 2003 to join the Cornish Pirates, n then going to Hong Kong for the 2005 World Cup rooj finals’ tourney there, in a full circle.
So yew can say I ran into the guy just before he became a national celeb, those 20 years ago!
Fast forward to this Tuesday that has just passed. My pal, Artikle 19 Regional Director Mugambi Kiai tells me that Ayimba’s funeral service is in South B’s ‘Our Lady Queen of Peace,’ which is like literally opposite my digolos. So, I go.
‘Our Lady’ is also the childhood kanisa that my ole lady made us trek to from Nbi West, thru-out praimo n high skool, every Sunday (which may explain why we’re seriously lapsed Roman Cathos, who only go to church for funerals n weddos, tho managed to get me boy Leo baptised).
Ayimba’s funeral service was sad, with his sons n I spotted a wife there, Caroline Waswa, with a lot of wasi-wasi.
Rooj legend Oscar Osir burst into tears, n the great Kenyan rugby icon Humphrey Kayange spoke of how Ayimba was a strict disciplinarian who pushed him to bulk up n do better, telling him: ‘young man, hey, you have great potential in rugby, and if you keep on working hard, boy, you can go places ...’
It just goes to show how professional colleagues, as I saw during the December funeral of BFF Martin Oduor, are sometimes even better than ‘pals,’ esp for so-called celebz, n that if you mentor younger peeps, they are the ones who will remember you best after you’ve booted the bucket.
Yet Ben, like many rooj stars, n also many local celebz, wasn’t beyond falling prey to ‘celeb’ temptations
The first of this being FAME.
We have seen many celebz come n go, rise n fall, n the best thing, as mzee Moi usedta say, is to stay humble (there’z also some crap crank song on the same). Fame is fleeting, like fog in a mist. Besides, being humble makes a celebrity more likeable.
The second thing is drinks n mayengs na weka slay queens kwa hio WhatsApp Group – though I know for rooj celebz, kinywaji sio shida vile, coz of Exercise. But mayengs are, sana sana those groupie mamacitas who flock to the matches, then want ‘home’ or ‘away’ matches after the game of rugby is done.
In August of 2019, two rooj guys who thought they were in a ‘menage a trois’ were convicted of gang rape. ’Out on bail, as they chill for Appeal, one of them is accused of trying to hire a killer to finish off the chiquitta so ndio hakuna witness to the case!
Lastly, it is important for celebz to think of investments that will outrun them, esp in sports field, ata ka ni ka wines-n-spirits hapo kwa neighbourhood called ‘Nondescript Liquors’ (kwanza those ones have done very well during this tyme of Covid-19). If the cheddar is great, get you a lil real estate, while the good times n the endorsements last.
Smitta Bonus: Euro Cup opens tonite with Italy vs Turkey, n kesho Russia vs Belgium. I’m with the Italianos coz was there in 2019, n the Russkis coz last there for the 2018 World Cup. The last 18 months have stalled travel for almost everyone. Rusinga is now the new Russia for travellers; and Iten the new ‘Italy’ as a destination.