Pain plagues legend Kadenge’s birthday as he turns 82

AFC Leopards and Harambee Stars legend Joe Kadenge at the Metropolitan Hospital in Buruburu where ...
AFC Leopards and Harambee Stars legend Joe Kadenge at the Metropolitan Hospital in Buruburu where he was rushed after he collapsed while watching National Super League (NSL) match between Nzoia United FC and KCB at the Camp Toyoyo Grounds on October 12, 2016. Photo/Stafford Ondego/

Kenyan football legend Joe Kadenge ushered in his 82nd birthday on Thursday enduring a familiar pain that has threat kept him strapped to his bed at his Nairobi home in South B estate.

The former Abaluhya Football Club (today AFC Leopards)  star made the phrase Kadenge na mpira (Kadenge with the ball) a household refrain on radio during his heyday bemoaned his declining health as a chronic diabetes continued to plague his old age.

Kadenge recently spent a fortnight at his rural home in the County of Vihiga before returning to the national capital to continue his ‘free’ treatment at the Nairobi Hospital as ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Uhuru and First Lady Margaret had paid Kadenge a visit in early January on his request when his health took sharp turn to the worse.

When contacted by Citizen Digital, Kadenge could barely recall it was his own birthday as he complained of a swollen leg.

“At my age it’s hard to remember and right now I’m sick and in bed. The only thing I remember is that when I was sick the President ordered that I go to Nairobi hospital for free treatment and nothing else,” Kadenge moaned.

The ailing Kadenge had made the plea to Uhuru and his predecessors Mwai Kibaki and Daniel Arap Moi saying it was among the things in his bucket list before his eventual demise.

During his visit, the Head of Statehad dropped him Ksh2m to top up a fundraising effort towards his plight that started on cross-platform instant messaging application WhatsApp following his hospitalisation on Boxing Day three days after collapsing during a family outing.

“I cannot walk because my leg is very heavy and my body is weak. People will wake up one day and find that I’m no longer there,” a dejected Kadege complained.

Leopards Chairman Dan Mule said the club’s National Executive Committee (NEC) had made an initial contribution while pledging further support.

Idolised locally as an iconic figure in Kenyan football, Kadenge’s former teammates and fans poured to micro-blogging site Twitter to wish him a happy birthday.

“Happy Birthday to my friend, namesake and a role model Joe. You’re the reason I joined Leopards! I wanted to be JK #HbdJoeKadenge,” former teammate Masiga wrote.

”From us here, it’s #HBDJoeKadenge who turns 82 today” Kenyan Youth @YouthsKE tweeted.

Kadenge was behind Leopards’ rise to a domestic football powerhouse and despite hanging his boots many years ago, the love for the beautiful game remains tightly laced to his heart.

Before his health worsened, Kadenge could easily be found seated among other fans watching local matches.

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Story By Godfrey Ashiali
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