Obituary: Kenyan hockey robbed of all-time great, as ‘Ashok Kumar’ takes a bow
Gilbert Ogolla Manyasi aka Gil Singh, or ‘Ashok Kumar’ of Kenya (after the legendary Indian hockey player), who passed on 10 days ago will be remembered for his artistry, flamboyance, flare and talent.
Gilbert was teaching law at Technical University of Kenya’s School of Social Sciences and Development Studies and Department of Criminology and Legal Studies.
The family suffered a double tragedy as he died only one month after the death of their younger brother Alphonse Gogo Manyasi. Both will be buried next week.
“He was a marvel to watch, a gem of a player. As a central midfielder, he was all over the dusty pitch yet he would end the game as clean as he had started,” Jos Ayuka, Telkom Posta women’s hockey coach, who is among the players he inspired, said.
“I found him at Kisumu Boys High School and we couldn’t stop watching this guy play hockey. He was the first player from Kisumu in the national team starting line-up. Those who came after him are Simi Goyal, Peter Akatsa, Mike Omondi, Mangat Singh, Samson Oriso, Oguk, George Jalang’o and others. We all wanted to be like him,” recalled Ayuka.
At Kisumu Boys, he was the second African player, after Juma Yusuf, in the school hockey team.
It was not just hockey where he manifested his multiple talent. Manyasi was a top sprinter at Kisumu Boys High School, and a great footballer.
Agonda Lukio, former Re-Union FC striker, recalls Ogolla as a midfielder for Nagpur University where he studied Bachelor of Arts in Economics. He also played for Kisumu Hotstars.
His journey to hockey stardom started at Lake Primary School before moving to Kisumu Boys High School (1972-1977). He also played for Kisumu Simba (Sikh Union) and Nairobi Gymkhana.
His reign in the national team was curtailed by of his long stay in India, where he studied for nine years (1981-1990).
Gilbert is survived by several children. Both brothers will be buried on May 11 at Rugunga Village, Bunyala South in Budalangi Sub-County.