Isaac Juma’s death chips away the Mashemeji Derby thrill
Kenyans, football fanatics in particular were stunned by the gruesome murder of one of the finest spectators in the country, Isaac Juma. Mashemeji Derby enthusiasts, however, bore the brunt of Juma’s death. A horrifying account of his murder over an alleged land dispute in Mumias moved many, as countless tributes flowed in.
This is the latest blow to the Kenyan Mashemeji Derby sensation, a fixture between Gor Mahia football club and AFC Leopards. Nicknamed Kogalo and Ingwe respectively, these are the most dominant clubs in Kenyan football with rich history between them. Their encounters are sights to behold, given their massive attendances in stadiums.
Both clubs have been at close quarters with financial constraints due to the scarce funding in Kenyan football. The two clubs were recently in conflict with the now deposed Football Kenya Federation (FKF). Having been fined 10 million shillings cumulatively, things became bleak for the football giants.
They had jointly decided to skip a fixture last year in protest for not receiving funds owed to them by the Federation. FKF had not disbursed grants to the clubs which threatened their operations. In an interesting turn of events, FKF indicated that they were going for the same grants to deduct the 10 million-shilling fine owed to them by the two clubs.
The clubs were further slapped with a 3-point deduction each for skipping their fixture. These pronouncements sparked protests especially among Gor fans, who staged demonstrations in Nairobi.
Away from the financial woes, the vibrancy and aura of their popular Mashemeji fixtures are now in serious jeopardy. By his exceptional talent and charisma, Isaac Juma rallied Ingwe fans during the derbies, and Kenyan fans during national team (Harambee Stars) fixtures.
There is general consensus that the Mashujaa Derby is never going to be the same again. Isaac Juma is irreplaceable on the stands and on tracks around the football pitch. His iconic regalia and skylarking were second to none. He is set to be laid to rest on February 13th.