The sporting fraternity continues to pay tribute to one of Kenya’s fastest and most skillful rugby players, Allan “Malala Sibwor” Makaka, who died in the early hours of yesterday.
The 37-year-old former Kenya Sevens star died early Saturday following a grisly road accident in Nairobi along Mombasa Road on the Southern Bypass interchange near Airtel Kenya headquarters in Nairobi.
Kenya Rugby Union (KRU), his former Kenya Sevens coach Edward Rombo and Kenya Sevens team-mates, Innocent “Namcos” Simiyu and Dennis “Ironman” Mwanja are among those who eulogised Makaka on Saturday.
His workmates at Royal Media Services Limited, where he was sales team leader, having worked at the media company for the last eight years, also mourned the former Kenya Harlequin player who also turned out for the now defunct Ulinzi Rugby Football Club.
A statement from KRU condoled with the family following the passing on of Makaka. “Makaka was a warm individual off the pitch, and his death is indeed a huge loss to his family, friends, colleagues and the rugby fraternity at large,” said the statement. “May God grant his family, friends and colleagues strength during this trying time.”
TOP THREE FASTEST PLAYERS
Rombo, a former Kenyan international, who handled Kenya Sevens team at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games in Australia, described Makaka and former Kenya sevens skipper Sydney Ashioya as his greatest wingers.
“Makaka and Ashioya were the fastest players in the team at the time. In fact Makaka was renowned in the World Sevens Series from 2003 to 2005 as one of the top three fastest players the series,” said Rombo, adding that Kenya’s opponents, among them Fijian players, feared Makaka for his speed.
“Makaka was also a hard worker, and as I said, the fittest by far and a solid defender. He was also a popular team character always the mover and shaker of all off-pitch activities,” said Rombo.
“Makaka was larger-than-life, lively and happy character.”
Former Kenya Sevens coach Simiyu and Mwanja, the latter who is deputy coach of Kenya Cup champions Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), said playing alongside Makaka was a great honour and joy for them.
“He was the fastest on the pitch, and his great rivalry with Oscar Osir brought out the best in them and the team,” said Simiyu, adding that Makaka gave his all his to the team. “He carried the team spirit and it made him one of the most beautiful souls around.”
Simiyu said Makaka’s death is a big loss, considering that local rugby scene still needed his vision, and he had a young family to take care of and his employer Royal Media Services valued his work.
Mwanja, who was Makaka’s teammate at Musingu High School, Ulinzi and at Kenya’s Under-21 team, said he will forever cherish Makaka’s loyalty to him.
“We shared the same cubicle at Musingu. “He was a hardworking and outspoken player who channeled his energies to everything he did,” said Mwanja, who remembers the 2016 Commonwealth Games with nostalgia.
Makaka started in the team ahead of Osir for the first time at the games.
On that occasion, Makaka latched on the kick-off to land Kenya’s first try against Namibia in a match they won 31-5 but Makaka tore his ligaments and missed out on the whole tournament in which Kenya beat Tonga 26-12 to claim the Bowl.
“I left Musingu in 1999 while Makaka cleared in 2000 before I lured him to Ulinzi where I had joined in 2001,” said Mwanja, who also played alongside Makaka in the 2004 Safari Sevens-winning Kenyan side.
Mwanja said he left Ulinzi in 2003 to join former Kenya Cup and Enterprise Cup champions Quins, adding that Makaka hanged his boots following another knee injury in 2008.
Tito Oduk, who played alongside Makaka at Rhino Franchise in the Bambari Rugby Super Series tournament between 2006 and 2008, said Makaka was “a deadly finisher and winger per excellence.”
“Makaka was a man with gas to burn for days and bucket-loads of enthusiasm,” Oduk, who is now the director of rugby at Mwamba Rugby Club, said.
“Rugby was simple. One only needed to break the line then give the ball to “Malala Sibwor” and start asking for the kicking tee.”
Royal Media Services, where Makaka enjoyed an eight-year professional career in sales, confirmed the grim news yesterday morning.
RMS’ Human Resources Director Rose Wanjohi said Makaka joined the company on February 1, 2012, as a Business Executive and later rose to become the Business Manager in charge of HOT 96 FM, a position in which he served with great dedication, passion and commitment.