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When rampaging Green Commandos made Speaker Lusaka lose high school sweetheart

By Elvince Joshua | June 13th 2021

 You would think all IT people only  talk about away from office is…those things they do with firewalls and the other thingamajigs they tinker with the whole day.

And you would think accountants, whose shoes are always polished to a sparkling shine, shirts white and pressed and tie perfectly knotted only discuss the stock exchange and the impact of the Israel-Palestine spat on global finance and petroleum prices when they meet baada ya kazi.

But the truth, which wives suspect but will never confirm because the matter is subject to the Official Secrets Act, is that the boys mostly talk about women, sex, sports and politics. Plots for sale? Boo! Retirement plans? Hah! Football? Yaas!   

And how they love derbies — from the battle of in-laws from Western Kenya, a match, pitting arch-rivals AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia, to the El-Classico clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona or the Kariakoo duel between Simba and Yanga just across the border in Tanzania.

These are mere matches; they are emotional bloodbaths.
 These emotions are born out of charged school rivalries where rage almost bordering on hate, fierce passion and the will to dominate the “enemy” is seared in their hearts for a lifetime. So deep runs that passion that even when the lads leave school, graduate, get married and become parents of high school going children, the fire for their old school teams still burns like an eternal flame in their hearts. You will often catch the “enemies” – now grown men in their 50s — exchanging barbs and warm banter on social media when their old schools meet in battle. 

Here are some of the old school rivalries that have defied time: 

 ??Nyanza’s Kisumu Day vs Kisumu Boys

It is an unwritten rule in Kisumu that fans of Kisumu Boys and Kisumu Day never share a podium. Any encounter between the two sides, especially when that game is held in the Lakeside city, usually ends in premium tears for either side. This is one of the biggest local rivalries from Nyanza and perhaps in the country. Lads from the two schools don’t just see eye to eye.
 James Onyango, who was admitted at Kisumu Boys in 1981 but finished at Kisumu Day two years later, after he was expelled from the walls neighbouring Kisumu Girls’, says during their time, the rivalry was fueled more by the need to impress girls from across the fence.
 “It was all about girls because academically, we considered ourselves giants who could only tango with the likes of Maseno and Maranda. We considered Kisumu Day as academic dwarfs, but they would beat us in sports like a drum and that hurt!  “Being a day school, KD (Kisumu Day) has built a following from the locals over time because they have produced so many alumni who live within Kisumu and its environs. So these are the guys who have carried this rivalry to date,” says Onyango, who admits that he retains a bias for Kisumu Day whenever the two schools lock horns in any match.
 Onjiko Boys might be snoring, but before they went to bed with mediocrity, the sleeping giant never saw eye to eye with Nyabondo Boys. The bone of contention was and has always been the battle for Koru Girls.
 But no team treated opponents worse than Agoro Sare in Homa Bay County.
 By virtue of having some of the best football pitches and a loyal following within Oyugis town, it was a rare occurrence for the match to be played to a conclusion whenever Agoro Sare conceded a goal at home. The biggest casualty of this hooliganism and fervent following was Owiro Akoko, Kakrawo, Kisii High, Cardinal Otunga and Homa Bay High.

Western’s Green Commandos vs The Scorpions
The former Western Province is the undisputed ‘cradle of football’ in Kenya. The region is home to football giants Kakamega High, Musingu Boys, Ingotse High School, Musingu, and St. Peters Mumias. Virtually every school from Western is a potential champion.  
   Kakamega High, better known as the ‘Green Commandos’ produced the likes of Dennis Oliech, and his brother Andrew Oyombe. That was when the late Brazil trained tactician Chris Makhoha, him of “carpet football” was team coach. He made the ball kiss the grass with his beautiful and sexy brand of football at ‘Perch’.
 Their games were charged – both on the pitch and in the stands – and the quality of the game so high that it filled stadiums to the rafters. In any case, some of the lads on both teams joined the now moribund Motcom FC. 
 “We could not eat or even sleep in the same hotel,” says former AFC Leopards defender Peter Lichungu, who schooled at Kakamega High in the late 70s.
 Lichungu remembers a heavy defeat Kakamega High School handed Friends school Kamusinga on their homeground, a defeat that saw Ken Lusaka, the current Senate Speaker get booted by his high school ‘sweetheart’ 
 “We still laugh about it. Ken (Lusaka) usually teases me that we made him lose a girlfriend after we handed them a heavy defeat,” he says. Lichungu, who had the uncanny gift of dribbling the ball with both feet with his eyes facing the sky, remains one of the most colourful players to wear the Commandos, Ingwe and Harambee Stars’ shirts.
“We never lost a match during the entire period I played for Green Commandos starting from 1979. We always went all the way to the nationals where we would meet teams like Itierio (Kisii) and Khamis High School from Mombasa.
 “Our matches would be preceded by bullfighting led by the likes of Bonny Khalwale who was cheeky but very bright. The rivalry was so intense that sometimes, it took the tribal angle especially when we met schools like Kibabii,” Lichungu recalls with nostalgia.
 Although the emergence of good footballing schools like St Peters Mumias, Makhokho, and Ingotse has since diffused this tension, a clash between the former archrivals still draws heavy crowds and the fierce and spirited support of their respective old boys. 

 ??Rift Valley’s battles were fought over hair
For a long time, Singore Girls have ruled the athletics scene in Elgeyo-Marakwet County, not knowing they have been living with ‘enemies’ from within and without.
 From sister school Kessup to Maria Soti Girls Education Centre, the ‘scalped’ heads of the beauties from Singore were not allowed to keep long hair did not appeal much to the neighbouring St. Patricks High School Iten, whose boys who were more inclined to Maria Soti girls for their long hair. The battle for hair and Iten Boys was fought fiercely on the athletics track. 
 Singore didn’t take it lightly. “We used to have a rivalry with Kessup A.I.C Secondary School because we were neighbours. But there was a deep ‘hatred’ for Maria Soti. They always claimed the beauty pageant title simply because they used to keep their hair so they thought that they were prettier than us,” says Millicent Chelimo, a teacher who sat her KCSE at Singore in the late 90s.
Scramble for the Capital
Ugly scenes of endless street fights were the post-match intrigues that Nairobi residents would occasionally be treated to whenever Jamhuri High, Dagoreti High, or Pumwani High clashed in the battle for control of Eastlands football.
 A meeting between any of these two sides divides Eastlands community right in the middle. For a long time, these schools have dominated football in Nairobi before Peter Orero brought Kamukunji and later Upper Hill to the stage.

Rugby-Nairobi School vs Lenana
In days gone by, the world literally stopped when Lenana School took on archrivals Nairobi School on the rugby pitch. Unlike ‘bush’ schools whose sports wars were fought physically off the pitch, theirs was friendly rivalry that has existed between the two academic and sports giants for ages.
 “We lost to them a few times, but this is something we don’t want to admit. Lenana used to beat us when I was a junior but we never lost when I became captain,” rugby legend Edward Rombo, who captained Nairobi School in 1986, told The Nairobian.
 Over three decades after he had left Patch, Rombo still believes that anyone who passed through Lenana shouldn’t be ‘trusted’.
 “It is historical. This is something that was engraved in us that Lenana guys are bad people,” Rombo says chuckling. “The rivalry between the two schools was more like new versus old. Lenana was founded out of Nairobi School, but with that came new infrastructure and they believed that they had the latest stuff, like new school buses and buildings while Nairobi School always boasted of being the oldest school. This was basically the genesis of this rivalry between ‘Patch Machine and Mean Maroon’.
 But Max Muniafu, an alumnus of Lenana School, still believes that Nairobi School is just an extension of ‘Dagoreti Boys’.
 “They (Nairobi School) used to refer to Lenana guys as ‘Kangemi Boys’. The rivalry was so intense and it has been there in everything that the two schools are involved in.
 Apart from rugby, this enmity between the pre-colonial schools has been fueled by academic performance.
 “Every time the KCSE results are out I always check which position Lenana is and if they happen to be below us, I really get satisfaction irrespective of our overall performance,” added Rombo roaring with laughter. 
 The matter is even made worse by the fact that the two institutions share a common sister school, Kenya High, that they worked so hard to impress.
 “The rivalry was very-very intense. It has a checkered history because these were two European schools in the colonial era, so it has a historical connotation,” Fred Ollows, a former rugger international and manager who taught at Nairobi School said.
 Maseno School and St Mary’s Yala have also tried to muscle their ways in the attempted control of the rugby landscape in Nyanza. This clash between the two academic giants from Nyanza occasionally ends in violence.


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