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Little-Known story of Harambee Stars legend who was among Kenya’s most wanted gangsters


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Daniel Nicodemus was one of a kind. Many names knew him: David Odhiambo, son of Nicodemus, alias Daniel Odhiambo son of N. Owiti, alias Daniel Odhiambo son of Nicodemus, alias Daniel Nicodemus. Generally, Daniel Odhiambo preferred to be called by his father’s name, Nicodemus Arudhi, while leading a double life: a footballer by day and a criminal by night.

Arudhi made a name for himself as one of the most prolific Harambee Stars players in the 70s. He represented Harambee Stars in three matches against Togo, Mali and Cameroon in the 1972 Africa Cup of Nations.

Although he was a talented player, Arudhi was also one of the most wanted criminals in the country. He used to rob people at night, becoming one of Kenya’s most wanted men in the 90s. The former Gor player was jailed several times, having been charged with murder once.

His colleagues knew about his other life even though they never brought it up when football only paid allowances. Despite this, Odhiambo was said to possess large amounts of money and lived a lavish lifestyle, wearing expensive leather jackets and designer shirts and travelling comfortably in taxis while his colleagues were using buses, among other extravagant lifestyles.

His colleagues questioned his lavish lifestyle, and further alleged that he was a loner who usually carried a pistol with him.

Nicodemus was my friend,” Arudhi’s friend and teammate Allan Thigo later said in an interview. “He was gentle, generous and very hard-working. He was crazy about training. But he had a secret: the guy was a gangster!”

As one of the greatest footballers in the history of Kenyan football, he was a crucial member of the Harambee Stars. Reports stated that in 1965, he was temporarily released from prison to play for the national team.

He was escorted to the pitch with a heavy contingent of prison officers as he was known to be slippery, with his fast pace posing a threat, especially in a crowded place.

Even though he spent most of his time behind bars, records show that the footballer never missed training sessions unless he was in prison.

Sometimes, he was forced to jump over the stadium fence during practice to avoid the police.

It was thus only a matter of time before Nicodemus made his rendezvous with death. On the night of June 22, 1981, his bullet-riddled body was dumped on a slab at the City Mortuary.

According to an official report by the police, Odhiambo, on June 21, 1981, had offered to surrender and lead the officers to the location where he hid his guns. The police reportedly gunned him down after he tried to escape.

Siaya Governor James Orengo, an MP back then, took Arudhi’s case and pursued it until the family was awarded Sh250,000.


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