NAIROBI, Kenya May 25 – Senators temporarily halted House business on Tuesday to pay tribute to fallen former Kenya Rugby International Player and Coach Benjamin Ayimba who succumbed to Cerebral Malaria on Friday.
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, who initiated the session, said Ayimba’s achievements will remain engraved in the country’s history.
“Apart from the late Ayimba’s notable traits that brought honor to this country, through the rugby sport, the committee recognizes and lauds his tremendous achievements spanning two decades,” the Nairobi Senator said.
He said that Benja, as he was popularly known, was ‘an icon, extraordinaire’ whose transition on May 21 has left many who knew and admired his sporting talent at a loss.
“To those of us who interacted with him, he was a beacon of hope in sports mentorship. We will indeed have a reservoir of memories and an example that will leave until the end of time. When the history of Kenyan rugby is written, the man Benjamin Ayimba will find a chapter and a place. Quite literally he is gone but his mark on rugby will endure the test of time, Mr Speaker therefore, having played his best, Benja is at rest,” Sakaja said.
Garissa Senator Abdulkadir Haji and his Homa Bay counterpart Moses Kajwang said Ayimba will be remembered for his contribution to the growth of rugby as a sport in the country.
“As the Senate we need to push the government more towards improving the policies towards sports so that we can appreciate our sports men and women more and even reward them better.”
“Sports has a major symbolic value and shapes national self perception. Sports can unite countries. Kenya’s sportsmen and women, much like other national athletes, have become the national flag bearers,” Haji stated.
The Senator said Ayimba will definitely be remembered and will go down in history as the man who won the 2016 Singapore 7s after thrashing Fiji 30-7 to bring the coveted cup home.
“This happened only a year after being reinstated as the coach which is no mean feat and he was truly a Kenyan hero,” the Garissa Senator said.
Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang regretted that the nation’s value system does not recognise people like Ayimba who have brought global glory to the country.
“I wish that the family can be taken care of. Because as always is the case, we go to the funeral and make lofty speeches. Many times we only talk about the deceased 10 percent of the time and politics 90 percent. I hope this is going to be different in that we’re going to make promises and we’re going to make commitments that we are going to live up to,” Kajwang noted.
Nominated Senators Rose Nyamunga and Naomi Siyonga noted that Ayimba’s journey was characterized by persistence and resilience to succeed against all odds.
“The contributions that he had made nationally and internationally should not just go like that. The death of Ayimba is just a reminder that we need to really look for mechanisms to ensure that our sportspersons do not die in abject poverty,” Senator Gertrude Musuruve added
Ayimba’s family has asked for well-wishers to help foot a Sh1.7 million pending hospital bill as preparations lay him to rest continue.