YEAR IN REVIEW: Gor defender opens up about marriage and life in Kenya


Karim is seen here draped in the Burundian flag as he savours the moment when ...
FILE)Karim is seen here draped in the Burundian flag as he savours the moment when Gor Mahia were crowned the 2015 KPL champions at the Nyayo National Stadium./PHOTO/Sportpicha

Winning two league titles with K’Ogalo in three years has turned 28-year-old, Burundian Abdul Karim Nizigiyimana Makenzi into one of the most revered defenders in the Kenyan Premier League.

Popularly Known as Karim , the Burundian joined the 16-time champions on January 20, 2015 from the Rwandese club, Rayon Sports F.C, as a right full back but has shown his agility and versatility on the pitch transforming into a wing-back, a role he plays with grace and panache.

But beyond his on the pitch conquests, dazzling footwork and love for the game, Karim is a humble and soft-spoken soul off it. He is also a family man, and a man who cherishes his faith.

Citizen Digital reporter John Mbati caught up with him.

CD: Karim, thanks for agreeing to host us. Tell us about yourself?

Karim: I am a Rwandese who is passionate about football and about life. I am also a Kenya Premier League champion with Gor Mahia, the best club in Kenya. I am married to a beautiful Rwandese woman and we have three lovely kids; two girls and a boy.

CD: So what brought you to Kenya?

Karim: The desire to play for record champions,Gor Mahia, was hard to resist.

CD:  You have lived in Kenya for three years. How do you find life here?

Karim: Life is good. The sweetest thing about Kenyans is that they love work.

Karim Nizigiyimana of Gor Mahia FC display his defender of the year award for SportPesa premier league 2015 season during the KPL/SJAK FOYA gala held at the Safari Park hotel in Nairobi on December 09, 2015. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha.
Karim Nizigiyimana of Gor Mahia FC display his defender of the year award for SportPesa premier league 2015 season during the KPL/SJAK FOYA gala held at the Safari Park hotel in Nairobi on December 09, 2015. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha.

CD: What do you love about Kenya?

Karim: The people love footballers. There is a time I got injured and there was an overwhelming outpour of support, through social media. It touched my soul.

CD:  You have been at Gor for three years. What do you love about the club so far?

Karim: I remember when we won the league unbeaten in 2015.It was so nostalgic. I savour that sweet moment to date. I also love how our club’s fans are hyped up and so passionate about the game, especially during the derby with AFC Leopards. They sing from start to end. When you are low in spirit, they simply get you fired-up for the game.

CD: What do you do apart from football?

Karim: Nothing else. I hang out with my family and spend time with my adorable kids.

CD: Away from football, what’s your favourite meal?

Karim: I love ugali and samaki (fish).

CD: Do you drink alcohol? And where do you hang out?

Karim: No! I don’t, but I love hanging out in Somali restaurants.

CD: How close are you with God?

Karim: I am an Islam, a practicing one, and I frequently pray at a mosque in Nairobi West.

CD: What do you foresee yourself doing in the near future?

Karim: For now I want to focus on my game and help my club win the Caf-Champions League. As for my life, I will take a step at a time.

Winners of KPL/SJAK FOYA SportPesa Premier league 2015 season, From Left: Karim Nizigiyimana (Defender), John Baraza (Fair play), Jesse Were (Golden boot) and Michael Olunga ( Most valuable player) during the gala held at the Safari Park hotel in Nairobi on December 09, 2015. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha
Winners of KPL/SJAK FOYA SportPesa Premier league 2015 season, From Left: Karim Nizigiyimana (Defender), John Baraza (Fair play), Jesse Were (Golden boot) and Michael Olunga ( Most valuable player) during the gala held at the Safari Park hotel in Nairobi on December 09, 2015. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha

CD: Your parting shot?

Karim: I thank all Kenyans and fans for supporting foreign players in Kenya. It is always hard being away from our countries but the love we are given here is great. I hope next year they will continue standing with us as we soldier on.

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Story By John Mbati
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