IMMORTALIZING SAMMY ONYANGO “JOGOO”
Every day every year, mothers give birth to young ones. Some are born boys while others are born girls. By the time a baby is born, no parent can tell what kind of a person it will make once grown up, but as good parents, we always hope for the best.
On 3rd March, 1961, at a certain village in Migori District, Nyanza Province, a boy child was born. He grew up just like other boys, went to school barefooted, played football using a “ball”made from polythene papers and put more efforts in his education. During all this time, no one knew what kind of a person the boy could make, or better still what contribution he could offer to the development of his motherland, Migori District or Kenya as a country when he grew up.
Born to his parents as Samuel Onyango,just Sammy Onyango,the Man was later to be nicknamed “Jogoo”and make a name for himself in football especially when he joined Gor Mahia,still as a student in Thika.The young Onyango used to board the now defunct Jogoo Kimakia bus service from Thika to come and turn up for Gor in league matches.He automatically earned the nick-name “Jogoo”that later came to be dreaded in the entire continent of Africa.
During his tenure at Gor Mahia, Jogoo played mostly as a left Winger and helped the club win several League and other cups championships. He earned his first call-up to the National Team in 1983, when he was called up by then Harambee Stars Coach, Marshall Mulwa as Stars prepared to defend the Cecafa Senior Challege Cup which they had won the previous year in Kampala, Uganda. Playing for the Harambee Stars at that time was no easy task, one needed to be at his best to earn a place in the starting line-up, what with players like Ambrose”Goldenboy”Ayoyi, Nahashon Mahila and Elly Adero calling the shots on the flanks? However,Onyango was determined to work his way up the ladder, eventually earning a regular position in the team.
The corner-kicks specialist at both Gor and Harambee Stars also scored some of the most memorable goals for the teams. On 4th February, 1984, Gor played Leopards in the final of the Cecafa club cup at the Nyayo national Stadium. Leopards scored the match opener in the 4th minute via Mike Amwayi, but, before Leopards Fans had finished celebrating the goal, Jogoo collected a loose ball down the left flank, dribbled past Leopards rear-guard of Josephat Murila, John”Papa”Arieno” and Patrick Shirasi “Omar Bongo” before releasing a fine “grass cutter” which Mahmoud Abbas misjudged as already going out for a goal-kick. However, the ball hit the goal post and easily rolled in for Gor’s equalizer. The scores then stood at 1-1 in the 7th minute of the match.
In 1989, while turning up for the national team against the flames of Malawi at the Nyayo national stadium, the latter scored an early goal in the fifth minute through Gilbert Chirwa’s free-kick and led 1-0 at half time. On resumption, the Corner balls specialist scored the equaliser when he kicked the ball from the corner spot direct to the yawning goalmouth without it being touched by another player,that was Sammy Onyango “Jogoo, the man who could today be turning 50, had he still been alive.
However, following the KP&TC directive in 1989 that barred all it’s employees from turning out for community-based clubs, Onyango left Gor and joined Kisumu post Office, commonly referred to as “Kisumu Posta” where he continued shining in the left flank. It is at this club that he eventually hung his playing boots to become the coach shortly before turn of century. Nevertheless, the cruel hand of death robbed Kenya of this great man in 2002 through a tragic road accident as he drove from the Kisumu ASK show-grounds.
Onyango’s contribution to football in this country speaks for itself and one can candidly say that he achieved his mission, especially after helping Gor win the Mandera cup in 1987, but his vision for quality football in the country is yet to be achieved.
Soccer Fans, ex and current players hope that one of them, in the name of Sammy Tiyoi Sholei will win the forth-coming football elections and turn the game round into a successful sports discipline in the country………over to you, Sholei and company!