The country officially recognised its heroes on Mashujaa Day but one of the most iconic voices on radio, Leonard Mambo Mbotela, was given a special token when Sports CS Ababu Namwamba visited his home on Tuesday, October 24, 2023.
The CS lauded Mbotela as a national hero whose works have shaped the broadcasting sphere, reliving the old days when local football matches were big on radio and commentators would paint a picture of the atmosphere through their vivid descriptions.
Synonymous with the phrase ‘Je, huu ni ungwana’, Mbotela is one of the most respected names in local media and despite age catching up with him, he still has the charisma that made multitudes tune in to his radio shows.
In recognition of Mbotela's immense contributions to the media industry, CS Ababu Namwamba presented him with a generous donation of Sh1 million, with a portion of the funds earmarked for his medical treatment.
“Legends are forever. What a special blessing to visit with and drink from the fountain of wisdom of this incredible national hero of all time, the ever-green, irrepressible colossus Leonard Mambo Mbotela, he of the peerless "Je, huu ni ungwana" fame.
“We have walked down memory lane to the dizzying times when football radio broadcasts were magical, when Kenyans thronged stadia to cheer their favorite teams, turning every match into a stirring carnival atmosphere. Am even more determined to take Kenyan football and the rest of our sports to heights never witnessed before. Twende stadi naniii,” wrote Ababu.
In a previous interview with The Standard, Mbotela said he discovered his talent during his teenage years.
“Since I was in Kitui High School, I tended to disturb other students through my reading news from newspapers. They would be annoyed and would tell me to shut up. However, some told me I could make a very good broadcaster,” said Mbotela
He further stated that in the comfort of his own home, he would grab a bottle, pretend it was a microphone, and enthusiastically engage in activities such as news reading or lively football commentary.
“One day my brothers heard me commentating in my room. They ran to my late mother crying saying; Mum, mum, Leonard amekuwa wazimu; anajiongelesha - Leonard has run mad, he is talking to himself."
Perturbed by the news of his son running mad, Mbotela’s mother ran, knocked on his room, and opened the door. “What is the problem?” She asked him while panicking. He responded; “Mum I love this broadcasting job so much.”
He said he would like to be remembered for his contribution to the growth of the media space in Kenya as he continues to mentor those following in his footsteps.