Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Ababu Namwamba, has been making headlines with his determined efforts to elevate Kenya’s sports and cultural landscape to new heights. From renovating local stadiums to bidding for international events, Namwamba’s vision for Kenya’s sports sector is both ambitious and inspiring.
In an exclusive interview with local media, Namwamba highlighted his commitment to upgrading Kenya’s sporting infrastructure, irrespective of the outcome of the bid to host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
“We are doing this because Kenya needs international level sporting facilities. We are a sporting nation and you cannot be a proud country with such a sporting degree without the infrastructure to back that,” he asserted.
The ongoing renovations of various stadia across the country have been a central focus of Namwamba’s tenure. The Afraha Stadium, located in Nakuru County, is currently undergoing a significant facelift. The stadium, which has been closed for over two years, is anticipated to meet international standards once completed. Sports Kenya, the stadia management agency, has advised the Nakuru County Government on essential upgrades to ensure the stadium is up to par.
“Our infrastructure is in a poor state, but we are confident we will get it to the proper standards,” stated Namwamba in a recent press conference.
High-quality turf and an advanced irrigation system are among the recommended improvements.
Namwamba’s aspirations extend beyond local renovations. Kenya’s joint bid with Uganda and Tanzania to host the 2027 AFCON demonstrates the country’s eagerness to showcase its capability on the continental stage. Namwamba’s confidence in the bid was evident as he addressed inspectors from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) during their recent visit to assess the country’s stadia and overall readiness. He expressed his determination to prioritise Kenya’s sports infrastructural development, regardless of the bid’s outcome.
“Kenyans are skeptical, and this skepticism is brought about by a history of disappointment. But let me reiterate that Kenya will be ready to host AFCON.” asserted Namwamba
However, hosting the AFCON is not the only international event on Kenya’s radar. The country has set its sights on hosting the 2024 Confederation of African Football (CAF) African Nations Championship (CHAN). Unlike the AFCON, CHAN exclusively features players from national league competitions.
Kenya, eager to be recognised as a viable host, has assured CAF that both Nyayo and Kasarani stadiums will be ready for the event. These two stadiums, along with two others to be selected, are poised to bring this prestigious tournament to East Africa.
Namwamba’s passion for sports also encompasses the youth. The National Youth Week and International Youth Day, which focus on youth energy, cohesion, and issues, align perfectly with his vision for the future.
At a forum held at the University of Nairobi (UON), Namwamba expressed his delight in encouraging the youth to realize their potential.
“This forum exposes the potential of youths as well as their contribution to national development and the realisation of their creativity and talent,” he said.
He emphasized the importance of green skills and climate action, identifying them as critical factors affecting young people’s livelihoods.
“Kenya has faced many disasters like floods, droughts, and other shortcomings; therefore, this has called upon the youth to participate in activities like the green space,” proposed the CS for Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts, Ababu Namwamba, “We will also have regional engagement in which the youth will be informed of the various government opportunities that are available to them, like the hustler fund, the Uwezo fund, and the National government affirmative action fund,” he added.
The government’s support for cultural activities is also part of Namwamba’s agenda. At the Bukusu Cultural Centre in Bungoma, he affirmed his commitment to preserving and celebrating Kenya’s cultural heritage.
“I have only come here to confirm that my Ministry will support all cultural activities in this region.” affirmed the CS, “Culture is everything; our heritage binds us to our roots; it instills discipline and morality. Let us pride ourselves in it, for the sake of our future generations,” he said.
Namwamba recognised the value of culture in shaping character and morality. He announced collaborations between the Kenya Cultural Centre and county governments to establish vibrant cultural centers dedicated to documenting and celebrating local traditions.
Namwamba’s impact is not confined to the administrative realm alone. The revival of the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) has been one of the noteworthy accomplishments during his tenure. After successfully hosting the fifth round of the KNRC in Eldoret, Namwamba pledged his dedication to upholding the standards of motorsport in Kenya. He acknowledged the importance of rallying as a sport and expressed his desire to see it flourish.
“We had a strong Kenyan flavour in the WRC and that’s what we want to promote even in the KNRC,” said Ababu Namwamba.
As Namwamba continues to push the boundaries of what is possible for Kenya’s sports and cultural scene, his legacy is likely to be one of transformation and progress. His commitment to international events, local infrastructure, and youth engagement has set the stage for a new era of achievement in the country. Whether hosting major tournaments or renovating community stadiums, Namwamba’s vision reflects a deep understanding of the power of sports and culture to shape a nation’s identity and future.