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A man of many hats ‘Baba Chiru’: Obit

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BEN-MUCHEMINAIROBI, Kenya, December 22- The sporting fraternity in East Africa is still reeling in shock and disbelief as condolences for rally driver Ben Muchemi alias ‘Baba Chiru’ continue to pour in.

Muchemi died at MP Shah Hospital on Saturday afternoon following a prolonged battle with cancer.

Despite the pain he went through since being diagnosed with stomach cancer, Muchemi could still muster the courage to push racing its limits and still made time for healthy discussions on motor sport governance and promotion of talent.

But the cruel hand of fate reached out with its infallible talons barley a week after he had returned from New Delhi in India where he regularly visited for specialized treatment.

Until his demise, Muchemi served as one of the 11 directors on the Board of Kenya Motor Sports Federation and could still squeeze in time to execute his duties as chairman of Rallye Sports Club.

Earlier in the year, the Jubilee government appointed Muchemi as chairman of the Sports Stadia Management Board and sadly enough, he was unable to preside over the recent lucrative deal which saw Moi International Sports Centre being renamed Safaricom Stadium when Kenya’s leading mobile service provider acquired the naming rights for the ultra-modern facility.

As a businessman, Muchemi was level headed, innovative and above all very successful, considering his status as the chairman of Safaricom dealers in Kenya.

As if to prove his hands were full, the 2009 Kenya Motor Sports personality of the year played a leading role in organization of motor sports events after serving as Event Director for the 61st KCB Safari Rally 2013.
Those who knew him in motor sports and business circles could certainly attest to his philanthropic connection.

He owned 28 rally cars and could on occasion allow less privileged drivers use them free of charge.

Julius Ngigi, the Chairman of Motor Sport Safety Commission of KMSF said, “Fair thee well my friend, you are an inspiration to many in the motor sport fraternity and beyond, your legacy will live on, your story has just began!”

The reigning Two Wheel Drive Turbo Autocross Champion Amit Pandya offered: “I’m extremely saddened to hear the loss of a great man, who inspired each and every one of us in the motor sport industry. You are always going to be with us in sprit. You fought a hard battle and may your soul rest in peace.”

Muchemi was diagnosed with stomach cancer on February 26, 2008 and came out publicly to reveal that he is a cancer patient and has since defied all odds by racing in the Kenya National Rally championship, the National Autocross and the demanding Rally Raid in his new Dakar Rally Buggy.

He was until his demise a Safaricom dealer who started selling mobile phone handsets in 1992.

Muchemi was one man who has experienced and seen mobile technology morph through different guises and recalls how a handset would go for about Sh1.2 million, a SIM card costing close to Sh400,000, a battery Sh100,000, an antennae Sh75,000 and we even had anti-radiation vests that would retail for Sh25,000.

He is however, credited today not for his entrepreneurial antics but for his participation in motor sports and a heart of gold.

MUCHEMI’S RALLY JOURNEY

2004:
Introduced into rally by the late John Ngunjiri
-2006:
Winner of Tanveer Alam Memorial Trophy for the most improved Kenyan rally driver
-2007:…
-Took over the running of the KRT Media Rally following the death of his mentor, the late John Ngunjiri
-2008:
-Diagnosed with stomach cancer on February 26, 2008
-2009:
– Kenya Motor Sports Personality of the Year
-2010:
-Did a full season of KNRC
2011:
-Sponsored MEDIA RALLY winners- Pauline Mwanzia Shegu (KBC) and Johnston Langat (KTN) -during the 2011 edition of KCB Safari Rally
-2012:
-Led the 2012 Kenya National Autocross Championship series after the first two rounds
– Bestowed with MBS (MORAN OF THE BURNING SPEAR) honors by former President Mwai Kibaki
-2013:
– Event Director of 61st KCB Safari Rally 2013
-Elected Chairman Rallye Sports Club
-Participated in four Rallies this year
-Finished in the first two rallies staged in Kajiado and Nyeri
-Finished 15th overall in 2013 KNRC Division 3 Standings
-Retired in Nakuru and Voi rallies navigated by Evans Mwenda
– Appointed Chairman of Sports Stadia Management Board (SSMB) for a duration of three years effective January 2013.

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