Kenya: Ken Oliech Talks About His Brother's Death, Football and His Political Ambitions

21 September 2020

Former Kenyan footballer Ken Oliech says his younger, brother, Kevin knew he was losing his battle with cancer despite being accorded the best possible treatment at a German hospital.

In news that recently shocked the local football fraternity, Kevin, also a former Kenyan Premier League footballer, succumbed to the killer disease at a Berlin hospital on August 17 aged 33, with his elder sibling at his bedside.

The forward, who represented Mathare United, Tusker and City Stars in his prime, was laid to rest at his rural home in Kisumu County weeks later in a ceremony graced by several political dignitaries, including Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and Embakassi East MP Babu Owino.

SO MUCH PAIN

Ken, who is based in Germany where he studies sports management, recently told the Nation in an exclusive interview his brother was in so much pain, in an ordeal he wouldn't wish for his worst enemy.

"In December, Kevo (Kevin) briefly travelled to Nairobi, met his childhood friends and intimidated to them that his health was failing and 'anything could happen'. It was like he was telling them goodbye," recalls Ken, also a former footballer.

Ken and the late Kevin are the brothers of former Harambee Stars captain Dennis Oliech, considered one of the best Kenyan strikers of all time.

"I was at my brother's bedside for six months and at times he told me the pain was unbearable," Ken said while fighting to hold back tears, at a popular restaurant owned by the family in Nairobi's Kilimani area.

DOUBLE TRAGEDY

Kevin's demise turned into a double tragedy for the family which also lost their mum, Mary Auma Oliech, to cancer, in 2018.

Incidentally, Kevin was diagnosed with cancer at Nairobi hospital the same year his mother passed on.

"He had lost so much weight and my sister was concerned. We sent him to hospital in Nairobi and his HIV results were negative. We tested for cancer as a last option. The results left us in shock. That is when I took the decision to invite him to Germany for treatment," says Ken, a Sports Management student at a Berlin college.

"He underwent chemotherapy and appeared to have improved, but suddenly his condition deteriorated. Weeks before he passed on, the doctors told us he won't make it. My brother was okay with that decision. He told me 'let me rest brother. I will be fine'."

Meanwhile, Ken, who also featured as a defender for Mathare United, confirmed that he is seeking to join politics. He is rumoured to be eyeing a parliamentary seat in the capital come 2022.

DEVELOP FOOTBALL

"It is time for the youth to take over the leadership of this country. I have been lucky to stay abroad for some time. Out there, systems work. Children go to school alone because the roads are safe, healthcare is at its best and the corrupt have no chance of survival. That is what we need to do here."

Commenting of the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) county and national elections which have dragged on for a year, Ken challenged the elected officials to live to their word and develop football.

"We are not where we want to be. Just like in our days, footballers still go for months without pay, yet the same administrators who failed to develop football 20 years ago still want another chance. Our team (Harambee Stars) struggled at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt because the players do not have exposure. We need to qualify more often to stand a chance of performing better. A lot needs to be done to change Kenyan football for the better."

Harambee Stars struggled at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, failing to overcome the first hurdle following losses to Senegal and Algeria and a single win over neighbours Tanzania.

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