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Tracing Wanyama’s ‘birthplace’

October 14th, 2013 3 min read

Renowned Kenyan footballer Victor Wanyama, who plays for national team Harambee Stars and English Premier League side Southampton, honed his skills at Ram playground, Land Mawe in Muthurwa.

The historical ‘stadium’ also served as a stepping stone for his elder brother MacDonald Mariga who plays for Parma in Italy.

When he was unveiled by Southampton Wanyama said: “I am happy to be part of Southampton’s squad. It means a lot because it has been my dream to play in the Premier League and now I am here,” said the midfielder.

“I’m grateful to my former club Celtic for the support fans gave me,” he said.

With unmatched passion, dedication and determination, Wanyama’s love for the beautiful game propelled him to iconic status.

He is the living testimony that self-drive and perseverance are the cardinal goals to success even in a playground that seemed so dilapidated, but served the purpose.

Talent factory

Located a stone’s throw distance from Muthurwa where he was brought up, the playground is located at Muthurwa.

Over the years, budding players have trained at the grounds and even many years after the departure of Wanyama, the field continues to nurture young talent.

The area, according to the 2009 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Census, is home to 27,000 people. The surveyors divided the sub-location into Land Mawe A, where the field lies, and Land Mawe B enumeration areas.

The uniqueness of the Wanyama’s childhood neighbourhood is two-fold; there are two flyovers connecting the area. On one hand there offices, religious institutions, health facilities, business entities and bus termini while on the other locals go about their daily activities.

One flyover leads to the city centre from Land Mawe while the other connects the city centre to Industrial area making it a fascinating view.

The estate is home to Nairobi Railway Station which is the transport hub for many living within Nairobi and the outskirts.

Easy access to these facilities has improved the living standards of locals living in and around the estate.

For example, majority are able to sell their produce to the nearby Muthurwa Market thus creating employment.

Proximity to the bus terminals saves them time while heading to their various destinations.

Of significant is the nearness to health institutions such as Loco Dispensary and Land Mawe Clinic which enables them to access medical treatment in time.

The presence of mosques, churches and a temple located around the same place clearly shows how the faithful tolerate each other and co-exist in harmony and tranquillity.

Railway museum

According to sources the residential houses, which have been in existence since the colonial days, were used by low cadre employees who worked on the railway line and lived in Muthurwa while signal operators and locomotive drivers lived in Land Mawe and Makongeni.

About 100 metres from the flyover leading to Industrial Area is the Railway Museum where residents can unwind. Inside the museum are old locomotive engines that are steam-driven.

A spot check by this writer reveals that residents are not fans of the museum because the trains are part of their lives.

Over the years, residents have come to value the importance of education. The high enrolment at the National Youth Service Training School in Industrial Area, Kenya Polytechnic University College (now The Technical University of Kenya), Kenya Institute of Highways and Building Technology, and Reli Education Centre is a testimony to that.

Through these institutions, the area has seen a number of professionals grow significantly.

Land Mawe has a number of social joints which are popular with those who grew up in the area but moved away to pursue careers.

Although insecurity is a runaway problem in most of Nairobi, especially in Eastlands. Land Mawe enjoys relative calm because of close proximity to the Muthurwa Police Post.