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Kenya Bridge Association (KBA) is the official NBO of the country

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From January 1, 2012, the Kenya Bridge Association  (KBA) is the organization recognized as the NBO for Kenya by Zone 8 and the World Bridge Federation (WBF). In the latest editorial of IBPA Bulletin, John Carruthers writes about this news: “An extraordinary thing has happened recently. The African Bridge Federation (ABF) has finally seen the light and declared that the Kenya Bridge Association (KBA), the organisation approved by the Government of Kenya and its sports associations, is the official NBO of the country.

We congratulate Kala Shah, President of the KBA, Samina Esmail, KBA past-President, and their loyal supporters, who have worked tirelessly for years to right the wrong perpetrated by Kenya Bridge Africa, a private, limited corporation, and abetted by the ABF and WBF, in kidnapping the NBO rights of Kenyan bridge. We applaud the ABF (and possibly the behind-the-scenes workings of the previous and new WBF regimes) in recognising the true NBO of Kenyan bridge and look forward to seeing Kenyan teams in international events in the very near future.”

To explore the question, read the editorial written by John Carruthers  in July 2007:

[The opinions expressed here are solely those of the Editor and do not necessarily represent the views of the IBPA Executive or those of its members.] 

Something exceedingly odd is going on in Kenyan bridge. The Kenya Bridge Association (KBA) was formed in 1963. In 2001, some members of the KBA Executive formed a private corporation named Kenya Bridge Africa Ltd and attempted to dissolve the KBA, while assuming its assets and functions. This activity was at least partly successful, since the WBF now recognizes the limited company as the official body of bridge representing Kenya in the African Bridge Federation (ABF) and the WBF. The KBA Ltd company attempted to officially disband the KBA in 2002 and declined to call the required AGM in doing so. The members of the KBA complained to the Kenya Registrar of Societies and were permitted to call an Extraordinary General Meeting to elect new officials and continue running the KBA. The limited company then brought two lawsuits against some members of the association, apparently attempting to scare them off. (Both suits have recently been dismissed in the Kenyan High Court, with costs awarded to the defendants.) This all came to a head at the recent All Africa Bridge Championships and the African Zonal Championships to qualify their teams for the World Championships in Shanghai.

Coincidentally, these Championships were held in Mombasa, further adding fuel to an alreadyraging inferno. The KBA, which is still functioning, sought a compromise solution so that the Championships could run smoothly, but Kenya Bridge Africa (backed by the ABF and WBF) snubbed their rival, insisting that it was the properly-constituted body to host the tournament.

The upshot of this was that only five of the 150 registered members of the Kenya Bridge Association took part in the Championships, an appalling record, and an embarrassment to Kenyan bridge. All five members were on the Kenyan Women’s Team, and so had a personal stake in the matter.

The Kenya Bridge Association has been appealing for some time to the WBF and the ABF for proper accreditation for their organization. The WBF (and the ABF similarly) has replied that it considers the matter an internal Kenyan issue and that any queries should go through the Kenyan NBO (KBA Ltd) and be resolved locally. On the face of it, this seems a reasonable position, and that position is supported by legal opinion from Jeffrey Polisner, WBF Legal Counsel, who states: “The WBF recognizes only one NBO (per country – Ed.) and its membership is a local matter and does not involve the intervention or involvement of the WBF. Good luck to all as it appears that the long-standing dispute can finally be resolved amicably.”

That position seems less reasonable when one goes to the website of the Government of Kenya Ministry of Gender, Sports, Culture and Social Services and discovers that the Kenya Bridge Association, not Kenya Bridge Africa Ltd, is indeed the official body of bridge in Kenya. They, along with the other national sports federations, are listed as affiliates.

The WBF Constitution states, in part, “ARTICLE 5 – MEMBERSHIP: The National Contract Bridge Organization, herein also called NBO, of any country is eligible, subject to the By-Laws, to apply for membership of the WBF, and may be elected by the Executive.” Since the Kenya Bridge Association, and not the Kenya Bridge Africa Ltd. company, is clearly the National Contract Bridge Organization in Kenya, the question arises, why do the African Bridge Federation and the World Bridge Federation not recognize this fact? Further, how did a private company replace the KBA in the first place, against Kenyan law?

Indeed, this does not seem to be solely an internal Kenyan issue at all, but a procedural issue for the WBF to resolve. In any case, how could it possibly be resolved in Kenya when the Kenya Bridge Africa Ltd company was formed specifically to depose the Kenya Bridge Association? Further investigation is warranted.

John Carruthers

IBPA Bullettin No. 510 – July 2007


We publish here the text of official letter  from Mr Bernard Pascal, President Zone 8, to Mrs. Kala Shah,  KBA President.

 Cairo, December first, 2012

 Subject: ABF and Kenya NBO

 Dear Mrs Kala Shah,

 As you are aware, the issue of which organization should be the National Bridge Organization “NBO” for Kenya has been a concern of many years and has resulted in a number of expensive lawsuits and much acrimony. Extensive efforts to negotiate a resolution of the dispute have failed. Pursuant to Article 4.2 of the World Bridge Federation, WBF By-Laws delegates such dispute to the Zone , in this case, Zone 8, to make this determination. Articles 8.4.5 & 8.4.6 of Africa Bridge Federation (Constitution statutes) also stipulate the right of ABF to make this determination. In its 6th General Assembly held in Hammamet on June 20th, 2011, the Zone 8 Board of Directors has delegated the responsibility to make this decision to the Management Committee which has made a decision in its last meeting in November 2011.

You are hereby notified that, effective January the first, 2012, the Kenya Bridge Association is the organization wich will be recognized as the NBO for Kenya by Zone 8 and the WBF in the best interests of the bridge players in Kenya. It is sincerely hoped by Zone 8 that all concerned with will work together in the best interests of bridge, the players in Kenya and Zone 8.

You are advised that all bridge players in Kenya are welcome to become members of Bridge Kenya Association with the right to compete in qualifying encounters for ABF and WBF events in the future.

Moreover, The ABF Management Committee wishes to underline the importance for the newly recognized NBO (Kenya Bridge Association), to refrain from managing/organizing any “club bridge” activities in Kenya. Its main objective is to organize federal competitions (for all bridge players in Kenya) and Country Trials to form a National team in any category. Also, it is to organize and implement bridge education and training programs for bridge players and Tournament Directors in the country.

Finally please find attached the conditions of eligibility (to be the Country NBO) stipulated in the WBF BY-Laws.

Please accept my kind regard

 Bernard Pascal -President Zone 8

Neapolitan Club has collected the statements of KBA past-President Mrs Samina Esmail and KBA President Mrs Kala Shah.

Mrs Samina Ismail: “Finally after 8 long years the change happened.   Our players applauded the WBF and ABF for their decision in reinstating The Kenya Bridge Association into the family fold. The wait has been worthwhile.  At times it was really tough but finally justice was met. Our big appreciation to the new WBF President Mr Rona and ABF President Mr Pascal for ensuring that justice was done and of course to our Government through the Kenya National Sports Council. I would like to thank all our players for standing ground and for all our well wishers and supporters  who always gave us words of encouragement like <<Samina hold on in there, it takes a tuff nut like you to see it through till the end!>>.  Bridge is a sport for ALL. I hope this will be a lesson  well learnt for the future generations“.

Mrs Kala Shah:  “On behalf of the Kenya Bridge Association, I would like to state that we are extremely delighted to have been declared the official NBO of Kenya.  I  must thank our immediate past Chairman, Mrs Samina Esmail, and her Committee for all the valuable time they devoted in Kenya Bridge Association to be recognised as the NBO”.


Laura Camponeschi

January 21, 2012

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