Kenya: Teammate Recalls Golden Moments With Kadenge

Photo: Capital FM
Kenyan football legend Joe Kadenge.

We came, we saw, we conquered." Those were the words of football legend Ambrose Nyapada, 86, when he eulogised his peer Joe Kadenge, 84, who passed on Sunday.

Mr Nyapada -- who together with Mr Kadenge led the national team to win the Gossage Cup (now Cecafa) in 1958, 1959 and 1960 -- used the words of Julius Caesar to describe their sterling performance.

Mr Nyapada and Mr Kadenge were wingers in the victorious squad that represented Kenya in the Gossage finals.

"I played as a left winger, position 11, while Kadenge was the right winger, position 7. Through our splendid co-ordination, we brought the trophies home for three consecutive years, all games being played against Uganda," Mr Nyapada recalled.

Superb dribbler

Describing Mr Kadenge as a brilliant player, a fast runner, a superb dribbler and a clinical finisher, Mr Nyapada said Mr Kadenge's performance in the field greatly contributed to the success of the team.

"I am sad to learn of Kadenge's death, coming at a time I was planning to meet him so we could reminisce our past. On behalf of his teammates, I convey my sincere condolences to his family. Till we meet again," Mr Nyapada said.

A native of Agwara village in Bondo, Siaya County, Mr Nyapada said he received the news of Mr Kadenge's death with great sadness.

He recalled their days together in the national team, noting how their splendid organisation bore fruit.

"We denied Uganda their fifth consecutive title in 1958. Before that, they had ruled the football scene, winning trophies in 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957," he said.

"In 1957, we did not take part in the tournament with the late Kadenge. We were lucky in 1958 to appear in the national squad list under Oronge, the captain."

Other players who were in the squad include Elijah Lidonde, Ali Kajo, Paul Owiti, Oronge (the captain), Ajode, Isaack Lugose, Steve Ochieng' (second goalkeeper), Tom Wanjala and David Kayadi.

"In 1958, during the Gossage tournament in Nairobi, we beat Uganda 2-1. I remember Kadenge played a pivotal role as he scored both goals," he said.

In 1959, during the same tournament staged in Tanzania, they floored Uganda by a similar margin. The following year, they drew 1-1 with the Cranes in Kampala.

"Then, penalties had not been introduced so as a result of the draw, we were allowed to have the trophy for six months after which it was taken to Uganda for another six months," said Mr Nyapada.


In 1961, Nyapada and Kadenge were not part of the national team.

"For me, my then boss, a white man, asked me to choose between football and work. Since I was employed at the payroll section of the (defunct) Kisumu Municipal Council, I had to end my career," said Mr Nyapada.

"He (Kadenge) was a true player. This was demonstrated by the vigour with which he hunted for the ball; he never wasted any chances he came across.

"As wingers, we were pivotal in the team. We either scored or contributed immensely to the goals," he added.

Mr Kadenge, considered Kenya's greatest footballer of all time, died at the Meridian Hospital in Nairobi at 84.

Two years ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta gave Mr Kadenge Sh2 million and also directed the football legend to be enrolled in the National Hospital Insurance Fund scheme.

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