Kibra: Mashemeji Derby reloaded as Mariga seeks to dribble past his coach

 

Supporters of the ODM Candidate for Kibra's Constituency celebrate along Kibra's streets after their candidate's victory, in Nairobi, on October 8, 2019. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

 

It seems like a script straight from heaven. Not even the angels can stop this insatiable hunger for political power–perhaps only God.

Football analysts equate it to the rivalry pitting Gor Mahia against AFC Leopards, known as Mashemeji Derby, which is not about football supremacy, but rather communal pride and identity.

And the battle for Kibra Constituency Member of Parliament seat stands out as the political arena to further extend a long-held sporting rivalry during the August 9 polls.

The fight features a teacher and his student. Peter Orero, who taught and coached former Inter Milan defensive midfielder McDonald Mariga at Kamukunji High School, are both eyeing the seat.

Mariga flies Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Party (UDA) flag, while Orero is vying on former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket.

Mariga, the first Kenya to have played in the UEFA Champions League, and the first East African to win the coveted European trophy while playing for Italian Serie A champions, Inter Milan, now aims to score against his mentor.

The two football mavens first clashed about two years ago in a hotly contested by-election following the death of Ken Okoth on July 26, 2019.

Mariga, then running on a Jubilee ticket, came second behind ODM candidate Bernard Imran Okoth. Mariga, also known as ‘Big-Mac’, got 11,230 votes against Okoth’s 24,636 votes.

But Orero had bowed out earlier, losing to Okoth in the primaries. He says he's now back, ready to face-off with his former student one more time.

“My people of Kibra, I want to knock at your doors. I want to ask for your votes once again. Not because I want the job. No, I want us to grow together. Let’s elevate one another,” he says.

Orero is a football devotee and administrator who helped shaped many careers, including that of Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga, Mariga’s brother Victor Wanyama, who plays for FC Montreal in Canada, as well as former Harambee Stars captain Dennis Oliech. He has also been chairman of the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association.

Mariga also has an impressive resume. He was the first Kenyan to play in La Liga and Serie A. 

There is also the bigger political picture that the race for Kibra is a contest between Dr Ruto and Mr Odinga.

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