The Man We Called Zaik Wa Kang Kang!
Sometime during the 2014 Kabeberi 7s, I was introduced to this budding young man, then playing for the Catholic Monks, little did I know that he would later become a good friend and a corner stone to my club.
Having already known his big brother Peter, who had quickly risen up the ranks at KCB, it was a joy to watch this young lad, barely 20 years old, tear it up on day 1. Playing a big part in taking the Catholic Monks to a first ever Cup quarter final. I wasn’t able to make it for day 2 but tales of his prowess reached me as the Monks played through the day.
Later in the series, I would witness the young lad pick up the top try scorer accolade from the second division of the Driftwood 7s, then later as he and his team mates lifted the division’s title at the season ending Christie 7s. This young man who we would later fondly refer to as ‘Zaik wa Kang Kang,’ a name coined from his trademark big hits, was none other than James Kilonzo.
By 2015, he had joined his big brother at KCB Rugby club, for what we now consider one of the most impressive stints at the club. Playing mainly at open wing, Jimmy became a main stay of the Cubs side that lost the ESS final to Impala and lifted the Mwamba Cup that year.
In the two and a half years he spent at the club, you could not find a more hard working, dedicated yet humble character at the club. Above being a great player on the pitch he was a great man off it, he carried this trademark infectious smile and a great sense of humour all wrapped under a cool, calm and collected demeanor.
Our interactions with the man always began like, “Ah, Zaik wa Kang Kang..” “Ah, Zaik wa odd shaped baalls..” (In a voice only he could make), then we’d laugh at how stupid we sounded.
We would then proceed to discuss the upcoming game and he would always say, “Poghie, hawa wasee hawaniwezi..” He would not fail to come to me after and say, “Nilikushow nini?” Then we’d go ahead to discuss the plans for the evening proceedings..
My most endearing memory of Jimmy will be right before the Kenya Cup final, as we were discussing how the den had transformed into something we had never seen, he turned to me saying, “Poghie, hii kikombe ni either tushinde ama tudedie hapa, hawa hawatuwezi..” He went on to give a man of the match show as KCB lifted the Kenya cup trophy.
Jimmy was the real utility back, having started as a winger, he made his full club debut at outside center a position he solidified through out the season, before being moved to inside center at the close of last season. We would joke that, “Huyu Jimmy hata prop atapush tu..”
He never shied away from a challenge, in fact he relished challenges, especially on the rugby pitch. He played his first game at inside center against Quins at the RFUEA facing a Kenyan international pairing,it goes without saying that he fitted in seamlessly, playing a pivotal role as the Lions grabbed a last minute win.
That he was talented beyond his years was clear for all to see, he quickly rose up the ranks and became a corner stone of the club at only 23, commanding respect in a dressing room that had guys almost 10 years older than him.
Heaven RFC just found itself a bad ass center, armed with a crunching tackle and an even more devastating ball carry. Above all they have found a true gentleman of the game…
We will truly miss you, ZAIK WA KANG KANG!