Former Kenya Sevens coach, the late Benjamin Ayimba, made his last appearance on the pitch with rugby enthusiasts paying their last respect at the RFUEA grounds Wednesday.
Both former and active rugby players, rugby officials and friends relieved the beautiful memories from their encounter with the late Ayimba.
Tears flowed freely amidst laughter and reflection at a solemn session dubbed Benjamin Ayimba Day Celebration.
Former Vice president Kalonzo Musyoka, Kenya Rugby Union chairman, Oduor Gangla, his predecessors Mwangi Muthee and Richard Omwela and officials from clubs that Ayimba played for were among those who paid their glowing tribute to the legend.
Also to eulogise Ayimba was the Kenya Rugby League Federation chairman Richard Nyakwaka and Arigi Obiero on behalf of fans.
Others who spoke were George Mbaye (Mwamba), Victor Sudi (Kenya Harlequin), Simon Odongo (Homeboyz), Philip Muturi (Strathmore Leos), Auka Gacheo (Nondies), David Lukalo (Impala) and Bob Asioyo (Impala).
The celebrations were kicked off by prayers, praise and worship, and exhortation by Pastor Elias Simiyu and Reverends Purity Murungi and Jesse Maina.
Ayimba’s son Brian made the reading with Joseph reading the eulogy.
Ayimba, who died on May 21 while receiving treatment at Kenyatta National Hospital for cerebral malaria, will be laid to rest on Friday in Uranga, Siaya County.
Kalonzo described Ayimba as a great man who conquered the world when he led Kenya Sevens to 2016 Singapore Sevens victory, their first ever at the World Rugby Series.
“Benja and his team beat the world, an achievement that we shall forever treasure,” said Kalonzo saying his death is a big blow to the world of rugby.
Kalonzo said the right way to celebrate Ayimba’s legacy is by forming a foundation that will not only help his young family, but also develop the game.
“I also want to challenge the government to also put up a modern rugby stadium. Rugby deserves a better arena and more so, we need to have rugby players getting employed by the government,” said Kalonzo.
Gangla thanked Ayimba’s family for allowing him to chase his dream in rugby.
“He has been a blessing to all and God shined his face on Ayimba and that is why he brought honour and glory to this country” Gangla said. “That is why we walk tall because of his achievements.”
Muthee said Ayimba was an epitome of what rugby represented and beyond.
“He served rugby with distinction and the nation owes him a lot,” said Muthee in a recorded message to the congregation.
Omwela said Ayimba was like a soldier who would take a bullet for him.
“Yes, Ayimba was arrogant on some occasions, but for what he knew was right. He simply disliked mediocrity, “said Omwela, who knew Ayimba back in 1995 when he was Impala chairman.
Arigi recalled memories from the World Rugby Series tour where Ayimba would personally meet the travelling fans to thank them for their support.
“No other coach has ever done that. He brought joy and tears to this country,” said Arigi.