Zambian Premier League takes pride at Kenyan superstars who feature for different clubs in the Central African country. Some Kenyan players have stayed in the country for quite some time, leading to an overall change in their lifestyles. What they drive. What they wear. How they spend free time. Where they live…
Since 2015, a handful of Kenyan footballers have made moves to Zambia but the most outstanding transfers are five; those of Zesco United trio David ‘Calabar’ Owino (former Gor Mahia defender), Anthony ‘Teddy’ Akumu (former Gor Mahia midfielder) and Jesse Jackson Were (former Tusker striker).
Former AFC Leopards duo of midfielder Andrew Tololwa and goalkeeper Ian Otieno also play and live in Zambia. Just before they moved back to Kenya, AFC Leopards striker John Makwatta and Gor Mahia midfielder Clifton Miheso were also plying their trade at the Zambian Premier League. Until mid this season, Miheso and Makwatta were Buildicon FC players.
Opera News has had a chat with the Kenyans in Zambia, and they’ve narrated how life has changed since then.
Owino, Anthony Akumu and Jesse Were are staying at the City of Ndola while the rest are at the periphery.
Calabar lives in a 3-bedroom house-provided by the club while Were and Akumu have opted to share a three bedroomed apartment. The two houses are about 50 metres apart.
Before leaving the country, Makwatta and Miheso, also had three bedroomed apartments each in the same location- this kind of housing is something they were simply dreaming of while in Kenya.
All the players drive sports cars. Even Makwatta and Miheso drove Sports cars while in Zambia.
Apart from food, which is basically a replica of what is found in Kenya, they say Zambians are reserved people as far as dressing is concerned. They say, it is not easy to spot skimpily dressed people in the city, unlike Nairobi- a thing which has shaped their dress-codes. As much as they try to maintain the Kenyan identity, they ensure that none is offended around them.
“It was very easy for the boys to adapt to life in Zambia because there’s is no much difference between the two countries in terms of food. There’s nothing quite extraordinary. They eat a lot of fish-Tilapia to be precise, and love green vegetables and Kuku kienyeji,” their agent George Bwana told Opera News.
Bwana, however, reveals that the players are always outstanding with unique hairstyles. “The boys dress according to their individual preferences. Of course, players are entertainers and at their age, they go with what’s in fashion. Hairstyles are also personal preferences, for example, Jesse (Were) likes Keeping short locks, Owino (David) prefers ragged while Teddy loves simple short hair,” he said, adding that, “Miheso loves changing his style so often-from funky short locks to colouring parts of the hair.”
Night-life is not very big in Ndola, the city where most of the Kenyan players are based, but even with that aside, Jesse Were, who drives Mark X, says their main duty while in Zambia is to play football. Their focus is to avoid clubbing and help their respective clubs in competitions.
“The city of Ndola is not as big as Nairobi. It is also a Christian City. Due to this, entertainment joints are not as many as back home. My main focus, however, is on what brought me down here (football),” he told Opera News, explaining that, “I drive Mark X because it’s a simple car which is easy to move around with.”
Generally, their agent observes that Zambian league is more lucrative than the Kenyan Premier League and that the boys’ social lives have really improved as a result.
“Zambian clubs pay players way better than ones in Kenya. This has greatly improved their social well-being as the boys are able to save and buy property back home. They also take good care of their dependents,” he said.