By Isaac Blessings
Kakamega Homeboyz is a football club that participates in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL). A few years ago, this team was unknown to many before becoming a househeld name in Kenya among football lovers.
But few know the man behind the success of this football club. In this article, WoK brings you the story of Tycoon Cleophas Shimanyula alias Toto – the founder and owner of Kakamega Homeboyz FC and owns a fleet of matatus and buses.
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Cleophas Shimanyula Background
The story of tycoon Cleophas Shimanyula is evidently one of rising from grass to grace through sheer hard work, focus and commitment. He was born into a humble family with his father working as a mechanic and a part-time taxi operator in Kakamega town. His educational background is quite mysterious but in a past interview with one of the local dailies, the tycoon revealed that he never completed his basic education. He further admitted that there was no way he could have excelled in the academic world since he wasn’t passionate about education.
His journey begins in the early 1990s. The businessman started off as a tout and car cleaner at Kakamega main stage. His father later assisted him to buy an old saloon car, which he used as a taxi for more than 10 years. He then decided to join the matatu industry after acquiring one vehicle he bought using a loan from a local bank. The matatu named ‘Homeboyz’ operated in the Kakamega – Kisumu route and within a short period of time he began adding more matatus under the Homeboyz brand. After running the matatu business for nearly a decade, he later expanded to join the long-range transport services through the Homeboyz buses. Shimanyula, who is famously known by the locals as Toto has over the years grown to become a household name in the Western Kenya’s public transport industry. Currently he runs over 50 vehicles that operate in the Kakamega – Kisumu route and has employed over 1,000 people.
On October 10, 2018, one of his buses crashed in Kericho leaving 58 people dead.
Founding Kakamega Homeboyz FC
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Cleophas Shimanyula founded Kakamega Homeboyz Fc in 2010 with the aim of giving a platform to the young people of Kakamega to showcase their talents and earn a living in the process. The football club began playing in the lower tier, National Super League and then joined the FKF Division one and finally gained promotion to the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) in 2013. The team has its home ground at Bukhungu stadium which is owned by the county government of Kakamega and can accommodate up to 30,000 people. The team has never won the Kenyan Premier League but were the runners up in the 2019/2020 season. They are currently at the top of the table and with their current form it won’t be a surprise if they clinch the 2022/2023 season trophy.
Because of his dominance in the transport sector and the influence he enjoys among the young people in the county, the tycoon controls and shapes Kakamega politics. Although he has never vied for any political seat and vowed never to join politics, Shimanyula has the ears of the political heavyweights of the region such as Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo and COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli. During campaigns, he offers his vehicles to be used by the candidates he supports. In 2018, he vowed to sell up to half of his wealth just to ensure former Kakamega senator Boni Khalwale doesn’t clinch the Kakamega county gubernatorial seat in the 2022 general elections. He claimed that Khalwale was an incompetent leader who used abuse and intimidations on him.
Shimanyula has interests in other sectors away from sports and the transport industry. He is the founder and owner of Western Cross Express Company Limited, a vehicle for his different businesses in the real estate and construction sectors. He also runs a cleaning company that is contracted by the Kakamega County government to collect garbage in Kakamega town. The company has created job opportunities for over 500 young people.
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Yes TOTO is a great guy of our times, i come from his local village #isulu where i bought 2 shops from his auncle, he’s inspiring and encourages young people to work hard
Very traversed person vwhen it comes to business