Family calls for security as renowned football fan Juma laid to rest

A soccer fan after paying last respects to Juma. [Benard Lusige, Standard]

Renowned soccer fan Isaac Juma was laid to rest yesterday at his home in Ebuyenjere village, Mumias West, Kakamega County.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Woman Representative Elsie Muhanda were among the leaders who attended the burial. Oparanya told the mourners the county government has initiated talks with Juma’s family over their safety concerns, details of which will be divulged at a later date.

“I met Juma when I was an official of AFC Leopards club. It is sad that he had to die this way because of land. On Monday next week, I will pay school fees for the three children in secondary school for the remainder of their years in secondary school,” Oparanya said.

Several other pledges were made by the leaders present.

Juma leaves an indelible mark as an ardent football fan who graced Harambee Stars, AFC Leopards, and lately, Kakamega Homeboyz matches. He turned up to cheer in a unique way; his torso painted in the national flag colours with the decorated gourd in his hand.

He would then dance himself lame to the tune of isukuti throughout the entire 90 minutes of play. Such was his zeal that he acquired national fame and a place in the hearts of many football fans.

News of his murder on January 26 shocked the nation. According to his wife and children, Juma was killed over a land ownership tussle. One of the suspects in Juma’s murder is in police custody pending investigations.

The mahogany casket bearing Juma’s remains yesterday lay at the centre of the grounds where the service was held. Football fans from across the country turned up fully kitted to give Juma a hero’s sendoff.

AFC Leopards fans, donned their team’s blue-striped attire while Gor Mahia announced their presence in their trademark green and white attire, complete with wooden guns. Boda boda riders did their lap of honour. “We, the members of Gor Mahia Air Force One, demand that killers of Juma be punished. Juma was a very humble man who did not deserve to die in such a manner,” team member Oduor Ambrose said.

“It hurts to see so many police officers here today yet when Juma reported threats to his life, the police did nothing,” another Gor member, Francis Ogola, said.

In an emotional speech, Juma’s son Powell told mourners his family is still at risk of being eliminated like their father.

He asked the county government for protection. “I saw my father being killed,” said Powell, a Form One student. “The killers are still at large. The government should simply take this land, put a school or hospital here and give us alternative land far from here.”

Powell continued: “The governor has said he will pay school fees for us, but I don’t see the point of that. Why pay school fees for us when we have no secure place to call home?”

Speaker after speaker claimed Juma’s family was not safe and urged the government to provide them with security or buy them alternative land.

Juma’s widows repeatedly claimed their lives are in danger, following unending demands that they should leave. 

Oparanya questioned why the police had not apprehended the killers who are well known.

“This land does not have a title deed yet, but we have started the process of acquiring it before we consider what to do with the land,” the governor said.

Under the Wanga custom, Juma was supposed to have been buried at night because he was murdered. “This ceremony has not been conducted according to our customs,” elder Emman Olachi said.

According to Wanga elders interviewed, tradition demands that after burial, families implicated in a murder be excommunicated and their houses torched immediately.