He might have been weighed down by the sensational Olympic scandal that jettisoned him from the upper echelons of global sports management, but the indelible mark Charles Nderitu Mukora etched in the development of Kenyan sport will never be erased.
Mukora, 83, a former chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock), died on Thursday after a long illness, leaving behind four children – Patrick, Patricia, Beth and Susan. His wife, Salome Wanjiru Mukora, died on May 21 last year.
Just like coach Patrick Sang is to world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge, Mukora was the man largely behind the success of Olympic trailblazer Kipchoge Keino, quietly living in the shadows of the legend in the 1960s and 70s before springing into the sports management limelight himself in the late 70s.
Across the eight decades he lived, Mukora made an impact as coach, administrator and politician, rising to the highest level of global sports management hitherto unsurpassed by any Kenyan. Besides Kipchoge, Mukora also coached Naftali Temu and was in charge, as head coach, at the 1968 (Mexico) and 1972 (Munich) Olympic Games, concentrating his pre-Olympic, military-style training camps in Nyahururu and Nyeri.
As vice president of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), he was effectively third in command at the Commonwealth sports movement after the Queen of England and the CGF president. Mukora enjoyed the rare distinction of having been an athlete, coach and administrator at the highest global level, representing Kenya in both football and athletics at regional competitions.
He competed in the long jump and triple jump before later taking up the decathlon, urged into sport by his British teacher John Cowley, later becoming Kenya’s first local coach in both football and athletics.
“Mukora was my very good friend. We were together from 1954 to 1956, under coach Briton (Archie) Evans, and he was polite, always laughing and had no issues with anyone,” Kenya’s pioneer international runner, Nyantika Maiyoro, mourned Mukora on Friday.
“Those days, Paul Boit was our team manager with William Yeda acting as Evans’ secretary as Mukora competed in the jumps.”
Mukora’s rise to prominence in Kenyan sport significantly started in 1968 when he took over as national athletics coach from Briton John Velzian who had, in 1965, led the country to the first ever African Championships in Congo Brazzaville. “Archie Evans was the colonial sports officer then and I had many fights with him, and so I went out on my own organised the first championships for an independent Kenya,” Velzian told Nation Sport from London.
“Mukora is someone I helped along the way and I will remember him as a great colleague in track and field,” Velzian, 91, added.
Mukora understudied Velzian at the African Championships and also at Kenya’s first appearance at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964 where Kenya won its first ever Olympic medal, a bronze in the 800 metres through Wilson Kiprugut Chumo.
“He was with Velzian in Congo Brazzaville and also in Tokyo,” Keino recalled. “During that time, I broke two world records in the 3,000 and 5,000 metres and was also the first African to run a sub-four minute mile.
“His family informed me of his passing last night (Thursday) and it’s indeed a huge blow.”
After taking over from Velzian, Mukora led Kenya, as head coach, to the Mexico Olympic Games where Temu panned the first ever Olympic gold medal, winning the 10,000 metres race with Keino winning gold in the 1,500 metres.
After a year’s studies at Loughborough College in England, Mukora was appointed sports officer upon his return, but was snapped up by the Coca-Cola Company and employed as a marketing trainee although he still took charge of Kenya as head coach at the 1972 Munich Olympics. At these games, Kenya won gold in the 4×400 metres relay.
“He took good care of us on our trips abroad. We had nothing to worry about,” Charles Asati, a member of the gold medal-winning relay team said Friday. “My condolences to his family.”
At Coca-Cola, Mukora rose to the position of external affairs manager and during his tenure, he devoted a good amount to sports sponsorship. “He gave each federation Sh5,000 annually as sponsorship from Coke which was a huge amount those days. He led in bringing corporates into sports,” recalls former Nock assistant treasurer Stephen arap Soi who Mukora mentored.
“At the time boxing benefitted greatly from the Coca-Cola sponsorship and we won medals at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games,” adds Reuben Ndolo, a former chairman of the Kenya Professional Boxing Commission.
In 1976, Mukora was elected into the Council of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), the global body that was later renamed to present day International Association of Athletics Federations. This was after he took charge as chairman of the Kenya Amateur Athletics Association (1972-1974), and, later, as chairman of the Kenya National Sports Council.
In 1989, Mukora was elected Nock chairman, taking over from Samuel Mbogo and, a year later, he was appointed IOC member, the same year he retired from Coca-Cola. Mukora was a close ally of then Democratic Party leader, Mwai Kibaki, and was elected as Laikipia East Member of Parliament serving from 1992 to 1997.
“Along with Chris Obure and the late Joab Omino, Mukora encouraged sports personalities to dive into politics and push for sports development in Parliament,” Ndolo, a former Makadara MP, observes. But Mukora’s star in sports administration was dimmed in 1999 when he was accused of taking a $34,000 bribe to vote for Salt Lake City’s bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympics after IOC whistle blower Mark Hodler raised allegations of impropriety in the Olympic movement.
Nock President Paul Tergat on Friday described his late predecessor as the man responsible for the firm entrenchment of Kenya into the Olympic movement.
“Charles was one of the founding pillars of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) and his tenure saw Kenya firmly established in the global Olympic movement,” said Tergat, an Olympic silver medallist and former world marathon record holder, in his condolences statement.
Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei paid tribute to Mukora as “a dedicated sports leader.”
“This is one individual who served Kenya in different capacities internationally and in a very diligent manner,” Tuwei said in his message.
“Apart from serving his constituents as MP, he at the same time played several roles as a sports administrator locally and internationally,” Tuwei added.
In his message, Tergat, who took over from Mukora’s successor Keino as Nock’s head in September last year, said despite great challenges, Mukora “remains one of the stalwarts of the Olympic movement locally and internationally.”
“Charles made huge contributions towards the development and solidifying of the Olympic movement and Olympism in Kenya, and his contribution, particularly in expanding corporate participation in our sports, is well known,” Tergat added.
The challenges that Tergat referred led to Mukora’s dramatic exit from the IOC that effectively brought Mukora’s long, illustrious career in sports administration to an abrupt end, after which he withdrew from public life as he also battled illness.
In his defence, Mukora had maintained the money from Salt Lake City was to finance sports development, but resigned from the IOC along with five other African members, namely Jean-Claude Ganga (Congo), Zein El Abdin Ahmed Abdel-Gadir (Sudan), Lamine Keita (Mali), David Sibandze (Swaziland, now Eswatini) and Bashir Mohammed Attarabulsi (Libya).
That episode aside, Mukora will be remembered for crafting the Kenyan track and field teams that shone at the Mexico and Munich Olympics, focusing his training in central Kenya.
In Swiss journalist Jurg Wirz’s book Run to Win: The Training Secrets of the Kenyan Runners, Mukora explains his strict training regime and preference for Nyahururu.
“I selected Nyahururu as a training camp because the altitude was more or less the same as Mexico,” he says.
“The training in Nyahururu was quite tough, three sessions a day with a lot of endurance and hill-work. We used a hill called “agony hill.” The team was selected after the trials. They were the best in the country.
“Nevertheless, we had some people who almost collapsed when they got right to the top of “agony hill.” People like Kip Keino and Naftali Temu were running up the hill many times.
“I put Keino in three events – the 1,500m, the 5,000m and the 10,000m because I knew how good he was.”
Dead at 83, Mukora will remain an integral part of Kenya’s rich sports history.
“My condolences to the family and the entire athletics fraternity. RIP,” said Tecla Sang, a pioneer athlete whose late husband Julius Sang was coached by Mukora to a gold medal at the Munich Olympics in the 4×400 metres relay.
“Very sad indeed. Condolences to the family and may he rest in peace,” added another pioneer woman athlete, former hurdler Rose Tata Muya. Others who sent early messages of condolences were Athletics Kenya’s branch chairmen Barnabas Korir (Nairobi), Dimmy Kisalu (Coast), Peter Angwenyi (Nyanza South) and Joseph Ochieng (Nyanza North).
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
Get breaking news on your Mobile as-it-happens. SMS ‘NEWS’ to 20153
With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.