NAIROBI, Kenya, June 8 – Nearly all fans on Gor Mahia terraces know Joseph Sudi ‘Ja Yimbo’ by nickname, but less is known about his antecedents. Sudi likes it that way!
Sudi gives credit to Kogalo for the exposure that has given him new face, this is good music to his ears.
He loves Gor because it’s a big team in the region “and have beautiful livery and play good football.”
“Our away color is white, meaning peace,” the 41-year-old quips.
Sudi is always tuned on as far as Gor fixtures are concerned but is steadfast in defending the club against negativity of crowd trouble. And he loves Manchester United to death, yet “green army” livery is what takes precedence, by and large.
“Gor Mahia FC has its own Bible and AFC Leopards has theirs. Our first verse says that when you want to support Gor you must have a thick skin because you can go to a match and lose. My church is Gor Mahia. Prior to kick-off when Jaro Soldier has sung the K’Ogalo anthem, fans maintain silence and I pray. I am the K’Ogalo bishop, you know. So, it’s always a complete weekend when both Gor and Man United chalk up maximum points,” Sudi revealed to Capital Sport.
-Nowadays No hooliganism-
Gor has on sundry occasions been associated with hooliganism and stone throwing. But this is one infamous trend ‘Ja Yimbo’ has vehemently denounced and worked to mitigate.
“Gone are the days when crowd trouble was the norm for Gor fans in the stadia. As fans we are obligated to protect stadia property because it’s our facility. Nowadays things have changed, and the way the world evolves many things are changing too,” the K’Ogalo adamant fan disclosed.
He added; “Club history is sentimental. But that doesn’t mean that we should continue doing things the way we used to 25 years ago. For a long time, women would not even bother greeting Gor fans or pass in-front of the team in a time of the derby which is awkward.”
“Today, Gor fans don’t want to be associated with those who throw stones or thieves who capitalize on situations to steal from others in stadium during matches. There is honestly no need throwing stones. You will throw stones and hit your family member or friends who might be there in the stadium or destroy property that will in turn be a burden to the Club.”
With renovation at Nyayo National Stadium complete with plastic chairs all over the terraces and the glass surroundings at the VIP section, Sports Ministry issued a stern warning to rowdy fans who will be culpable.
Sports Permanent Secretary Joe Okudo while inspecting the Nyayo Stadium announced that those found destroying the property will be jailed.
“Nyayo Stadium looks amazing after renovations and with glasses all over, I plead with our fans to steer clear from violence and protect property. I support the Government’s recent statement to take stern action against anyone caught up in the hooliganism menace. It’s the responsibility of the home team to sensitise its fans to protect property during match-days.”
“To be successful in the business of football, we all need to keep our eyes on the ball and say no to hooliganism. We truly savor our relationship with Ingwe and Mashemeji Derby, a clear indication of the direction we are taking in shunning hooliganism.
Sudi, who started supporting Gor way back in 1996, is a career painter and committed family man. After attending Kanyibok Primary School, the lanky football lover, later enrolled to Kamukunji Secondary in Nairobi but dropped out due to lack of school fees.
“I am a painter, during weekdays, I get some small jobs for painting which provides my daily bread.For now, the work has slowed down due to COVID-19 pandemic. It has affected my other way of getting ‘something small’ which I used to get during game days,” Sudi, who has four children, two boys and two girls stated.
-Started loving Gor-
“I used to keep tabs with matters football from the days football commentaries glorified the likes of Peter Dawo, John “Zangi” Okello and Abass Khamis Magogo, so ingrained was my love for the team. When Gor and AFC played we used to follow proceedings on radio back in the village in Yimbo, Usenge.”
“Stories of nostalgic Kadenge na Mpira radio commentaries made me love football more. So, when I came to Nairobi I said I must hook up with Gor and see how this wonderful club plays. I resided in Makongeni where it’s proximity to City Stadium was an advantage, so when Gor played we would walk to City Stadium.”
“I relate with Gor because I used to follow the team away back when I was young, Gor fans is more like a family. We check on each other because we nearly know our members and when a problem crops up, we help each other as a team to solve it, and that is what brought us together. We are like brothers and sisters,” the soft spoken Sudi narrated.
Like countless other fans across the African continent, Ja Yimbo is a strong believer in football superstitions and God fearing.
If Gor has no fixture on the weekend, he feels there is something amiss and this is when he goes to watch guys playing football in the nearby estate at Jakaranda. But on a match day for Gor he doesn’t sleep.
-How his day is like when Gor plays-
“So, we say ‘Juogi’ in Dholuo, meaning Spirits. When Gor plays, three days prior to the game you are supposed to sleep alone, and not be anywhere near your wife so that bad luck don’t follow you leading the Club to lose the match.
“Derby needs a lot more concentration, so my family including my wife are in the know. Before I leave the house, I pray, take a bath, take tea then wear my kanzu, take a Bible then I leave by 9am to be at the Tom Mboya statue in the CBD.
“We Gor fans like going to the Tom Mboya statue to seek his intervention. Tom Mboya used to love football and loved Gor Mahia. ‘If you look at the statue keenly you realise that Tom Mboya is pointing City Stadium’, the home of Gor. So, as the ‘Bishop’, I pray in-front of my followers that we come back with maximum points.
“The late Tom Mboya used to frequently attend Gor matches back in the day at City Stadiun which we call it Tok K’Omwanda loosely translated as home of Gor. This Bible is the constitution of Gor Mahia, if you want to join Gor there are things you need to know.
“If you want to join Gor you have to wear helmet for safety. If you don’t have helmet you wear a ‘Makuti’ hat known as ‘Othith’ in Dholuo that’s our identity. That guy called Gor Mahia used to wear it so we are following his foot steps.
“Before I became a Gor ‘Bishop’, on match-days I used to carry a big ‘Ugali’ and fish most of the time, and more so when we play our rivals AFC Leopards. In Luo land we love ‘kuon’ (ugali) and fish that is a precious dish from the lake region so when we take on our ‘Shemejis’ (AFC) as a symbol, we give them fish and they give us chicken which is the main dish in Luhya land.”
The staunch Gor fan reckons that football is a sport that promotes peace, love and unity, so it should not culminate to a physical fight… “nowadays when we lose to AFC, we sit together and eat together because we are one.”
The Gor verses AFC derby is Sudi’s highest moment of a season.
“Playing against Sony is also interesting because it’s a mini derby we see them as Gor ‘B’. My best moment is when we were playing Sony away in Awendo and the match was somewhat tough, but what amazed me is that before the match it started to rain cats and dogs, apparently there was no rain on the terraces. It was a very hard game but Gor won 1-0.
“That day there were chaos, Sony fans confronted me threatening to beat me up when I started the usual prayer before the match, but we were victors and our legend Zedekiah Otieno ‘Zico’ was Sony coach.”
“When there was a stampede in 2010, five fans lost their lives at Nyayo National Stadium during the Gor v AFC derby. I saw it with my eyes, and it was a painful experience. I will never forget that day.”
-Future plans for Gor-
‘Ja Yimbo’ believes Gor has no opponents in Kenya, calling on the management to ensure the team now stamp its authority in the continent.
“We are now used to it and there is no sweetness in it. It’s lonely up there and we now need to improve on our continental football, the problem is that the fixtures are not fair, we always start away which is a disadvantage to us. I went to a match in Rwanda when Gor were facing Rayon Sport and was inspired by the government’s gesture to supports their team.”
“When Gor goes away, the Government of Kenya needs to extend the requisite support to fans away. This will give the team the much-needed morale. If we could get good management at Gor we will surely go far. We really need our own stadium, residence for players, this way players will give us good result.”
“We have suffered a lot since the pandemic came in March. We call it Akori nya Chaina in Dholuo, meaning a girl from China. We have suffered as fans and players. You heard that Gor players were paid Ksh. 3000, to me that’s a big joke.
“My message to fans is to have unity during this time of the pandemic. When it’s over we should support our teams and I pray to cooperate companies to supports local teams so that we lift the standards of football. For now, it’s a desperate situation with the ban in social gathering. There’s no money in the game and payers are suffering. Clubs are suffering in the KPL due to lack of sponsorship,” he said in finality.