‘Peterooh!’ that is how I knew that Stephanie Rose Otieno was within a 10-meter radius of where I was, no matter the location, on hearing that name from that distinct high-pitched voice, I would look around for that big, beautiful, loving smile…and somehow at that instance, the world would brighten up a bit more!
That was Steph, like all beautiful friendships, I can’t really tell where and when ours started, but I can tell you this, once it took off, it was exactly that, beautiful! After that greeting, we would catch up on anything and everything, amid only the best of laughter accompanied banter, that always drifted back to rugby, ‘Enhe naona Simba mnastraagool’ she would remark, refering to my club KCB RFC (on the very rare occassion that we had lost), worse still, had it also been a tough week for the Springboks…aah hakua anawacha nipumue!
I would always try to counter it by bringing up her beloved Kulabu or All Blacks, to which she found a way to wiggle out of, and if all else failed, she came back with the classic, ‘Haya basi Peteroh usijam, alafu, shots?’ See, unlike your ordinary Kulabu faithful who usually throws all reason out the window once you mention their club, Steph was always level-headed and accepted when her club had come short, but just like every one of them, she did it with her chin held up high and proud!
Steph was all that plus a bag of properly done chips on the side…she was an intelligent and fearless leader, a meticulous planner, with a passion that distinguished her from anyone else (now you know how she made it to Top TM). I remember when she was appointed Mwamba TM, I asked her ‘Women solo ama men pia?,’ She simply replied, ‘Ngoja uone!’
As fate would have it, she was team manager when Mwamba ended their 35-year wait for a Kenya Cup title, winning the inaugural women’s Kenya Cup title!
All this was wrapped up in that bubbly caring character that somehow, never faded! She had this aura that would arrest any room/rugby pitch she walked into, and the charm to confirm that she did. The beauty of it all, she was never afraid to show it!
Steph was a big supporter of this space, she would be one of the first readers of articles here and would not hesitate to give her compliments to the author, or a rare ‘Ah Peteroh umetudanganya..’ whenever I mentioned Kulabu in bad light. She was one of our most consistent live audience guests at the episode shoots for our rugby stories, wherever they were.
Apart from rugby, she was a proper sports fan, and I mean a proper one at that…Football, Athletics, American Football, Basketball, Tennis, Cricket, F1, you name it, she knew it, to the last detail, and she would take anyone on that dared think that she didn’t. I used to often scroll my Twitter timeline looking for her kicking ass and taking names…
All sports apart from golf, and once she learned that I was a golf fan, she made it her duty to ensure that I taught her everything! ‘Weeeh Peteroh, so what is this golf, How is it played? I’ll make you a trade, nifundishe golf, nitakufundisha F1!’ That is how she attended her first Magical Kenya Open in March 2022, you could tell the excitement in her eyes!
Stephanie Rose Otieno I could go on and on about you, I count myself lucky to have known you….here are some of your friends.
They say the best relationships begin unexpectedly. I remember her presence in every Mwamba RFC match I covered, since 2019, but I don’t remember the exact moment we became besties.
I don’t think there’s an international KRU tournament that we’ve run since 2019 that Steph wasn’t part of. Over and above that, she’d always call JJ and I to see how we were doing and if we’d be at the same Kenya Cup venue, if in any case, Mwamba/Nakuru/KCB were having a double header.
On a personal level, I love Steph because over the last few years, she has indirectly taught me how to trust my friends. She has taught me that I shouldn’t hold back when I have an opinion to share. She has taught me to truly go after what I want, regardless of what society thinks. She has taught me to love loudly!
I love you Steph… I know that God has a plan, but this one is incredibly hard to accept.Mckenna!
My dear lovely Stephanie. I am grateful for you. Grateful to have known you. Truly grateful to have had a friend in you. I will cherish and miss the stories and laughter we shared. Grateful for waking up at odd morning hours to talk and sleep again. Grateful for the goofy dances and great hugs. Saying I will miss you is an understatement babe.
It has been a sad and difficult past couple of days, but I choose to celebrate you. Celebrate who you were, celebrate our friendship and celebrate the life you lived. You were loved, you were appreciated and you were treasured my darling. Thank you for everything you were and all that you did.
I love you Stephanie Rose. ❤️🌹Yours Teedah!
This will take time.
I am truly, truly honored to have known you and to have experienced your love, your laugh, and your lows. Thank you for walking with me throughout the time we have known each other and for always rooting for me even when I didn’t think I deserved it.
I hope you know how proud I am of you Top TM. Super super proud. As for the plans we had, it’s going to be hard without you, but I promise you this, Ni Saa Hii!
I Love You, Babe. Always have, always will.Adot.
Rest In Perfect Peace.
My favorite Rose.
Words fail me, I promised myself not to dwell on the hurt that has been my companion over the past few days but instead, focus on the joy that you brought into my life for the years that I was blessed to have you in my life and that is what I will do.
I remember meeting you in 2019, so fresh in the management side of rugby but so eager to learn, all our interactions after that never lacked one question, how can we create space for other women to take up managerial roles in rugby in Kenya.
Fast forward to the 2021 Barthes U21 tournament where I was privileged to work alongside you for three whole weeks! Here, we went through all emotions together from extreme joy, to extreme anger, but we came out on the other side stronger than ever. I remember when I told you about Kenna’s surprise birthday celebration and the excitement you had as we made all the plans… you really loved your friends Steph.
I am grateful for you because, if it were not for you, I would have never changed clubs, and I am glad you pushed me to join Mwamba, and I am glad you were there to hold my hand when I did.
Thank you for showing me what true friendship is, to me you were that one friend who always picked my call and were never tired to listen to my problems, you showed me what believing in yourself looks like, and you showed me what truly living in your purpose looks like.
Thank you Steph, thank you from the bottom of my heart. This one hurts, it will forever hurt, but it hurts because we loved you greatly and deeply.
You have left big shoes to fill, I will do my best to continue with your legacy.
Rest in power Stephanie- Rose Otieno.
Love you foreverJJ Odhiambo
Stephanie, you are proof that we don’t need a long time here, for you came, you saw and left a lifelong loving mark in our lives!
Your were love and you were loved Steph, I know that you are in that big blue sky, wearing that big warm, bright smile and that we’ll see you soon!
Go well Steph, go well, panga shots, nakuja…
(P.S You can add your tributes to Steph on the comments section below…)