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The making of Kenya’s football boss

In 2016, Nick Mwendwa was elected as the President of Football Kenya Federation (FKF) at only 36 years. His brother Alex Kilingi takes us through his journey to the top

Sandra Wekesa @andayisandra

How was it growing up with Nick?

We are four siblings in our family: Three boys, and one girl. Nick is our firstborn while I’m the second born. Nick always had our backs and was the  responsible one, who made sure we were safe.

During our primary school days, he would make sure we were all settled in our classes upon arrival before he settled in his class. Also he was obedient and generous.

Speaking of school days, take us through his education journey.

We all went to  Makindu Primary School, Makueni. He completed Class Eight in 1991 while I was in Class Six, and proceeded to Kiserian Secondary School in 1992 for his secondary education.

In Form Three, he transferred to Thomeandu Secondary School, Makueni where he sat for his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam in 1995. In 1997, he joined Kenya College of Accountancy (KCA) University for a diploma in Information Technology. 

What are your most memorable moments when growing up?

My moment with my brother are countless, but I remember no single day would pass without me bullying him. I would imitate his voice and make fun of him.

Was he born a footballer?

Yes, I must admit he loved football since he was young. Nick played football and later formed his own local club, in the Kenyan Premier League side, known as Kariobangi Sharks in 2001.

How did he end up as the President of Football Kenya Federation (FKF)?

Whatever Nick sets out to do, he follows it to the end. He was aggressive and determined. Also, he had a well-organised campaign based on elaborate ground network that enabled him to garner majority votes.

He run under the ‘Team Change’ banner. He garnered 50 votes out of a possible total of 77 votes cast during the FKF presidential elections held at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, in 2016.

What are the challenges  he has faced at the helm?

He inherited an office that was running into debts amounting to approximately Sh160 million. Also, issuance of licenses and rolling out the programme for club licensing has been a daunting task.

How different is Nick in his office and off the office?

You see the way everyone has two sides of a coin? My brother doesn’t have that — he is all the same at home and in the office. He takes care of his wife and two children and also makes sure his company and other businesses are in check.

Take us through his career journey.

You will forgive me because I’m poor with timelines. But after Nick completed his diploma in Information Technology in 1999, he started working for Uchumi Supermarkets, as a shelf stocker. He later climbed the ladder to join the IT department. But he quit Uchumi and joined Technology Associates.

Thereafter, he decided to do his own business and started Trace Solutions, an IT company. Along the way, he decided to dissolve the company and formed Zinga Technologies with other partners. But later, he thought it through and decided to start up a business on his own again. So, after several consultations Riverbank Solutions was established.   

He has been allegedly involved in a number of scandals; for example, he was once linked to the death of an auctioneer. Also Riverbanks Solutions Ltd, is said to have entered into deals with some counties, which made a down-payment for services yet to be rendered to date. Tell us more about it.

My brother is clean. Also, he is not restricted from doing business just because he is FKF president.

His favourite meals?

He loves traditional food, especially, kienyenji chicken. But he hates cooking. Even when we were young, I used to cook most of the times. So, anytime I was in the kitchen, he would request for boiled chicken. Up to date, I have never understood why that turns out to be his favourite meal.

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