Mariga joins politics, says Kibra has ‘special place in my heart’


Midfielder McDonald Mariga (L) celebrates his goal with ex-teammate Dennis Oliech during their 2012 Africa Nations ...
Midfielder McDonald Mariga (L) celebrates his goal with ex-teammate Dennis Oliech during their 2012 Africa Nations Cup qualifying match against Angola’s black antelopes at the Nyayo National stadium. (PHOTO/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha)

In Summary

  • It's now official. Kenya's football star MacDonald Mariga has finally come out of the woods to declare his interest in politics.
  • 'Big Mac' as he is fondly known in football circles on Monday presented himself at the Jubilee party headquarters alongside other candidates vying for the party's ticket for the Kibra Parliamentary seat, where they were  vetted.

It’s now official. Kenya’s football star MacDonald Mariga has finally come out of the woods to declare his interest in politics.

‘Big Mac’ as he is fondly known in football circles on Monday presented himself at the Jubilee party headquarters in Nairobi alongside other candidates vying for the party’s ticket for the Kibra Parliamentary seat, where they were vetted. Mariga will be seeking to replace Ken Okoth who died on July 26.

Speaking at the venue, Mariga dismissed allegations that his entry to the race was prompted by a senior Jubilee politician.

Mariga said he took the decision so as to give back to the community and that Kibra ‘has a special place in his heart’.

“Nimekuwa mkazi huko nimeishi Karanja so I know kila kitu huku I just want to give back to the community I know what they go through”, said the soccer star.

However, the footballer said he will announce later whether he will permanently retire from sports.

Mariga is one of Kenya’s most decorated football players having won the coveted UEFA Champions League in 2010 with Inter Milan under Jose Mourinho. He has of late turned out for Parma in the Italian Serie A (2014–2015),  Latina FC in the Italian SerieD (2016–2017) and Real Oviedo in Spain (2017–2018).

Kenya international McDonald Mariga was handed a five-game ban for injuring a referee. PHOTO/OmniSport
Kenya international McDonald Mariga was handed a five-game ban for injuring a referee. PHOTO/OmniSport

Jubilee’s National Electoral Board will announce the successful candidate on Friday before forwarding the candidate’s name to the electoral body, the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission(IEBC).

While donning Harambee Stars colours, Mariga is best remembered for the bullet goal he scored at the death on March 27,2011 at the Nyayo National Stadium in an African Cup of Nations qualifier as the home team rallied to silence Angola’s Pancras Negras 2-1. He went on to celebrate by peeling off his shirt to reveal the writing on his vest: ‘GOD ABOVE EVERYTHING’. This  earned him a second yellow card, hence being sent off.

By joining politics, Mariga follows in the footsteps of past football stars such as Liberian President George Weah, who had a decorated playing stint in Europe with several clubs among them AC Milan. He’s the only African to have ever won the Ballon d’Or before venturing into politics.

Others are current AFC Leopards chairman and ex- Gor  great Dan Shikanda, who unsuccessfully tried his hand to become the Deputy Governor of Nairobi in the last General Elections in a ticket that also had Peter Kenneth as the gubernatorial candidate.

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Story By Erick Owenga
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