Jack Oyoo Sylvester: Tanzanian-born Legend Who Revolutionized Football Commentary

Jack Oyoo Sylvester at the KBC studio on May 20, 2022.
Jack Oyoo Sylvester at the KBC studio on May 20, 2022.

Kenya has had legendary commentators who made fans enjoy football games despite being thousands of kilometers away from match venues.

From the late Mohamed Juma Njuguna to Michael Were Mukhusiah, the list is full of individuals who transformed sports journalism in the country.

However, for people who had the financial power to purchase a radio between the late 20th century and early 21st century, the name Jack Oyoo Slyvester perhaps rings a bell in their minds.

Also Read: 4 Kenyan Journalists Who Ditched Sports Careers

The veteran journalist had a mastery of the Swahili language and could turn even a boring football match into an epic one.

TeamKenya.co.ke takes a look at Slyvester's inspiring journey.

Jack Oyoo Slyvester was born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He only moved to Kenya when his father resigned from a wildlife job.

He started his career as a tutor, teaching various schools including Siaya County-based Ndwiga Secondary School and Kuoyo Kochia which is located in Homa Bay County.

It was while at Kuoyo Kochia that he made a breakthrough in sports journalism.

According to Slyvester, he used to send sports reports to the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) while teaching at the learning institution.

“I was a teacher at a school called Kuoyo Kochia in Homa Bay County. I used to teach Kiswahili, Agriculture, and Geography.

“I was teaching while sending the Kenya Broadcast Corporation (KBC) sports news and Kenyans used to enjoy it so much.

“So in 1987, before the start of the All Africa Games, I was called to Nairobi to help cover the event. Others who were invited to the city include the likes of the late Michael Wandera, Andrew Juma, and Adagala Luvusi,” he disclosed.

Slyvester joined KBC and covered the games successfully before returning to Homa Bay.

However, in 1991, he was called by KBC and he officially joined them as a sports commentator.

Slyvester, who reveals that he also used to work as a barber and a counselor, further divulged that he helped shape the career of many media personalities in Kenya including Mukhusiah and Daniel Ndambuki popularly known as Churchill.

He narrated how Churchill wanted to be a sports journalist but ended up giving up because he could not keep up with his pace.

His advice to the Kenyan youths is to be all-rounded and not depend on one career.

“I usually tell young people that it is a big crime for someone to be capable of doing just one job.

“It is very dangerous to be skilled at one job because if you have the ability to do more than one job it keeps you in a good position. When one job ends, you can still engage in something,” ended Slyvester.

Also Read: Schools Top Kenyan Sports Journalists Attended