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Last day for popular football fanatic ‘Cobra’ as recounted by our reporter

“You should have shaved your 2018 beard and start on a clean chin this year,” I chided him to which he replied with a hearty laugh that ‘It has become my signature. No way I am shaving.”

That was 10:30 am Tuesday morning. “Please organise for a CSR out of Nairobi so that we enjoy a road trip,” he shouted as we parted. The trip was not to be like James ‘Cobra’ Oduor did not make it out of 14 Hannover alive and his words still ring out in my head.

The last of his colleagues saw him run up the stairs when terrorists neared their Third-floor office. Others hid in toilets, some crammed in office stores but Cobra took the stairs up. “I saw him run up the staircase. I did not know where exactly he hid as I found the door to the store and went in,” a colleague said

Cobra and three Korean colleagues were missing when the head count was done slightly past 6 pm. The shaken colleagues had been rescued by elite security forces.

Cobra had made birthday plans and sent invites to friends for his big Wednesday party. He enjoyed a big social media following and ran a social media account that mirrored his life.

The former Ushuru and Kenya Pipeline player went to his work station at the LG Electronics headquarters at the Riverside complex where attacked on Tuesday. Other evacuees say ‘Cobra’ died trying to guide trapped victims out of the building.

All the while he was out of reach. He could not be reached on phone. His other colleagues trapped in the building sent out texts to say where they hid in case there was a rescue operation.

When the last of evacuees from 14 Hannover stepped out at 9 pm a man identified as Thiong’o Wachira gave a description of two bodies just outside the lifts. He looked shaken but even so, the male victim he was describing sent chills down my spine.

He co-founded and ran a Youtube-based Wadau TV, an interactive online platform focusing on local football.

Those who sent condolence messages include neighbours from Kariakor Flats whom he played with including Ben Agina of SmithKline Beecham and Jack Oguda, the Kenyan Premier League CEO.

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