Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has mourned rugby legend Benjamin Ayimba saying he was a great patriot.
Expressing his condolences to the family, friends and the rugby fraternity, Raila noted that prior to taking up coaching, Ayimba had an illustrious career as a rugby 15s and 7s international.
“We have lost a great patriot in Benjamin Ayimba. As coach he led Kenya to their first World Sevens Series title when they beat Fiji at the Singapore Sevens in 2016,” Raila said.
Senate Majority Leader and West Pokot Senator Samuel Poghisio said Kenya has indeed lost a patriot and a great sportsman who made Kenya proud by winning Singapore series in 2016.
“My deepest condolences to the entire country for the loss of our great country man Benjamin Ayimba. May God keep the family strong and united through this tough time,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader and Siaya Senator James Orengo said Ayimba was an incredibly special part of rugby in Kenya and will forever be remembered for his outstanding pace and skill, his strength as a player and coach, and his kind and genuine nature both on and off the field.
Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu said Ayimba came through for the county in the first ever successful Kitui 7s in 2018.
“He become a dependable partner and an integral part of the tournament. As head coach, he led Kenya to its first ever World 7s Series title in 2016 in Singapore. Kenya trounced Fiji in the finals,” she said.
Kisii Governor James Ongwae described Ayimba as a legend who did much for the Kenyan Rugby family.
“Your exemplary life will be remembered forever,” Ongwae said on Twitter.
Kirinyaga MP John Munene said: “Rest in Power Benjamin Ayimba, you gave us Seasons and moments of Rugby made in Kenya. You are a true legend. My Condolences to the family, friends and the rugby fraternity.”
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr said Benjamin Ayimba will be remembered for his service to the nation as a player and coach of the 7s team.
Isiolo Governor Mohamed Kuti said: “The sports fraternity has lost a great player, coach and leader in the world of rugby. Rest in Peace Benjamin Ayimba. May Allah grant you Jannah.”
In April this year, Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja led a funds drive for Ayimba who had been hospitalised with cerebral malaria.
Taking to Twitter, the senator said President Kenyatta had already made his contribution to the medical fund for the former Kenya Sevens coach.
“Let’s keep at it #TurnUpforBenja. Thank you H.E Uhuru for the KES 1m. Kindly @RailaOdinga @WilliamsRuto @MusaliaMudavadi join in,” he said.
The rugby legend’s family had made an appeal for financial help to settle his medical bill that was at Sh2million at the time.
Ayimba masterminded Kenya’s historic victory in the Singapore Sevens final in 2016.
He was first appointed Shujaa head coach in 2006 and three years later he guided Kenya to its first ever World Series Cup Final in Adelaide, Australia losing 26-7 to South Africa.
He was sacked in 2011 after opposing the fielding of Kenya’s main players at the Safaricom Sevens in November that year.
He returned for a second stint in 2015 and a year later pulled off Kenya’s first tournament win in a world series event when Shujaa thrashed then defending world series champions Fiji 30-7.
Here is what other Kenyans remembered him.