10 Kenyans to watch out for in 2016
1. Nicholas Bett
He will be turning 26 in January, but his star has just started to shine. After twice winning bronze in the African Championships in Athletics, he shocked the world this year by winning 400m hurdles at the World Championships in Beijing in 2015.
His times have improved also, from a personal best of 49.03 seconds in 2014 to 47.79 in 2015. If he continues on this path he should be well on his way to domination in the hurdles race.
2. Michael Olunga
The footballer who turns 22 in March, is already being looked up to as the lead striker in both the Kenya national team and Gor Mahia FC. The moniker engineer comes from his study in Geospatial Engineering at the Technical University of Kenya.
The Liberty Sports loanee is the current KPL MVP, third in the scorers’ charts of last season’s league, and has scored 5 goals in his 9 appearances for Harambee Stars. Simba and Yanga in Tanzania, and Bidvest in South Africa are just some of the clubs that have made their interest for the forward. He has kept his next move close to his chest and speculation is still rife on whether or not he stays put at Gor.
Born Adeline Maranga, Dela had her breakthrough in music back in 2009, at the age of 19, when she released her album Paukwa, an Afro-fusion album that played on her vocal ability.
She even featured in Sauti Sol’s hit song Mama Papa that same year. It is this relationship with Sauti Sol that have contributed majorly in her two hits this year.
Bien-Aime Baraza helped pen lyrics to Mafeelings, while Polycarp Otieno was the guitar genius in her cover for Adele’s Hello. Both songs are doing especially well for her, Hello having more than 320,000 views while Mafeelings has surpassed 70,000 views.
She has track-releases for January and February with an album launching thereafter.
4. Victor Wanyama
You all know him. He has attracted interest from Arsenal FC even before he made his BPL switch from Celtic FC in the Scottish league. This time round it is highly unlikely he will turn down an approach from the Gunners, with Southampton FC performing below par this year.
Wanyama made his name playing in the Champion’s League, something he is not getting at his current club.
Ronald Koeman has however stopped his previous request to leave for Tottenham early this season, despite his public show of displease as his teammates move to bigger clubs. The Southampton boss is adamant Wanyama should finish his contract with the club.
5. Eunice Atieno Onyango
The 22-year-old is the reigning Miss Kenya International and Miss Africa International after she came in as second runners at the 55th Miss International pageant held at Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa in Tokyo, Japan in November.
That she was pipped to the title by Venezuelan and Honduran competitors may not be considered a loss. With dreams of high fashion modelling, next year might be a big year for the beauty whose project sees her focussing on the victims of terror attack in the country.
6. Sauti Sol
This was obvious. They are definitely the Kenyan musical act to watch out for in 2016. Their album launch tour, which started with Kisumu this month, continues next year that will see them tour the country, as well as a collabo-album release for their recent and yet to be released collaborations with other artistes.
7. Julius Yego
The ‘YouTube man’ keeps making history every time he goes to throw his javelin. After setting a new record, his monster throw of 92.78 metres is the third best in the history of javelin, endorsement deals have been coming his way.
All eyes will be on the ‘YouTube Athlete’ to go further in the coming year. At only 26 years of age, he has room to make many great memories yet.
8. Kelvin Macharia Kuria
Few know him although he has been featured on CNN, Business Daily and other publications about his tech innovations. The 25 year old is the founder and CEO of Sunrise Tracking and has been adding to his portfolio of innovations and awards since he started the company.
This year, through YALI (Young African Leadership Initiative), he became a recipient of 2015 Mandela Washington Fellowship. His company sets itself apart from others by offering revolutionary car tracking systems, biometrics products, and CCTV surveillance. It’s interesting to see what this curious mind will come up with next.
9. Phillip Buyai Kinisu
As the new Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chair, this is the new sheriff in in town. Mr Kinisu joins the EACC at a time the commission is investigating mega corruption scandals involving more than 175 top government officials, including two former Cabinet secretaries.
Dabar Abdi Maalim, Paul Mwaniki Gachoka, Sophia Lepuchirit and Rose Mghoi Macharia will also be sworn in as members of the anti-graft body after MPs endorsed their nominations.
The level of misappropriation has increased almost unchecked, and despite the numerous cases forwarded and investigations going on, no “big fish” have been prosecuted.
10. Benjamin Ayimba
The Kenya sevens rugby side are already bringing a revival in the sport that Kenya looked certain to be losing grip of after board wrangles made previous well-performing coaches leave the job.
Their impressive display in South Africa sees Kenya seeded fourth to highlight Pool ‘D’ of the third leg of the Series in Wellington, New Zealand, due January 30-31. We look forward to seeing the momentum keep up, and once again reinforce Kenya as a force to reckon with.