Rabadaa Cup – The Story
To properly tell you the Rabadaa story, I will have to go back to 2006, when I met the man who coined the phrase itself, Joshua Tariq Gathumbi, or as we knew him, Rojo.
This is early 2006, first term of the school calendar, we are getting ready to take on our opening assignment as the patch machine, the Impala Floodies. Our first match was against Upper Hill, we didn’t pay them much attention, I mean, Upper Hill, this was not the music festivals. We had our sights on these two Lenana and Mang’u especially the latter.
I mention the latter, because we had already played Lenana and haplessly spanked them at every meet in our journey to senior year. We had however not crossed paths with Mang’u a team many had tipped to challenge for every piece of silverware that season alongside Biko Adema’s St Marys and ourselves.
Tales of Wazimba’s solid squad that had blew past everyone in central province had already done the rounds. With the likes of Eric Kioko, Ian Chewaini, the Kang’ethe twins and that man Rojo, who was the star of the side playing at full back. Saints never played Floodies, so this was our shot at measuring up the Wazimba.
As fate would have it, we would meet Mang’u in the Floodies semi final, after we had just edged Upper Hill in the quarter finals (remind me to tell you Moseti’s story in that game) and they had punished some team, I think it was Dagoretti. So here we were, at the Impala Club facing the very side that we had dreaded, that feeling must have been mutual, as we had also been trail blazers in the capital.
In a closely fought out encounter, like a finely poised heavyweight bout, we led 6-0 for large parts of the game until they made it 6-5 with a try in the dying minutes. We held on for the win in a nerve wrecking final minutes. You bet you that Rojo was a handful through out that encounter.
Fast forward to the National fifteens games, held at Mang’u, they duly revenged that Floodies loss in the pool stages, if my memory serves me right, they put 20 or so points past us. We however had the last laugh, lifting the national title, after beating them 16-13 in the final.
It was however at the East Africa school games in Dar-es-salaam that I met Rojo, over more than a post match clap out or a dinning hall group chat. On a bus trip from where we slept, at Jitegemee high school, we sat next to each other, initially there wasn’t much talk going on. But Dar is a hot city and I had a bottle of water, he didn’t, it was a long journey, something had to give.
We kicked it right off, I can’t remember exactly what we went on about, but it was funny, think we were comparing plans on how to sneak out later that night and check out the night scene, we had all heard about a place called club Bilkanaz or something. He finished my bottle of water by the time we got to the grounds, smh (the ground in Dar is another story by itself, for another day) they went on to beat us to the EA title, narrowly.
I can’t remember the score, I bet very few in that travelling party can, it was Dar, there were many distractions, we were young, there are better things to remember. What I do remember though was how cool Rojo was, and how he and the rest of the Mang’u boys got scared of sneaking out that night. I always reminded him of my bottle of water which he had promised to replace, hence every time we met we started with, ‘Weh mguyz wa maji..’
We could go on and on..2006 was a great year, Kiks and Chewais will mention a Prescott semi final, I don’t recall, my memory blanks out after Dar, sorry.
That he was a great talent is no secret, Benjamin Ayimba once described him as, “The scrum-half Kenya has not had a long time.” This was back in 2008 when he made his 7s debut at the Tangier Sevens in Morocco with the Shujaa. (Then, the 2nd string side) Off the pitch he was among the coolest of people, easy going and had a determination to match any.
Immediately after high school he joined the Strathmore Leos and was part of that ’07 Eric Shirley Shield winning side. This was where the phrase, Rabadaa can be traced to.
Usually before a game, most rugby sides have a chant, to chase away any jitters and most importantly to unite the players in one purpose. For some it was steam steam panda, for others it was tuko roho juu, for that Leos side especially for Rojo, apart from 27, it was RABADAA! A phrase coined by the man himself.
They carried on with the tradition even after he left the Leos for Quins then Impala and after he passed on in March 2009, the Rabadaa legacy lives on.
The Leos fraternity alongside friends gather annually, in friendly touch tournament in memory of Rojo for the Rabadaa cup. This year’s will be the third edition and a very special one for more reasons than one. Firstly it marks the first tournament under the Rabadaa foundation, that was formed this year by members of that Leos side to keep the legacies of their brothers alive.
Secondly, this will be the first one after Geoffrey Githaiga passed on. Githaiga was Rojo’s captain back in Mang’u in 2005, they later joined up at the Leos, earning Kenya cup promotion before Rojo moved on to Quins then Impala.
Most importantly though, all the proceeds from the Rabadaa cup, will be donated to Kwetu children’s home located in Siwaka around the Madaraka Area.
Here is how we get involved and support this very noble cause, first the tournament will be held the cage in Madaraka (Strathmore University Sports Complex), on the 23rd of July from 10 am. To register a team of 10, you only need 2000 bob, to come watch and enjoy some great company, you only pay 100 bob at the gate.
I am sure the organisers won’t mind any donations you will have to offer towards Kwetu children’s home, so dig out anything you have towards this cause.
I guess I will be seeing you bright and early on the 23rd, let us enjoy a superb Saturday out, with great touch rugby, great company as we celebrate the Legacies of two greats and support this worthy cause.
Find all the information about the tournament and registration HERE.
And the foundation HERE.