Sharuko On Saturday
TWO days ago, I turned 47, just three years short of a Golden Jubilee when, God willing, I will complete the magical mark of half-a-century of years in this beautiful garden of the living.
Of course, I’m no longer that fresh-faced boy who arrived in the big city — lonely, short on confidence and haunted by homesickness because I had left a big part of myself in my beloved hometown Chakari.
My weight has probably increased two-fold, I am now a giant of an individual and my life now plays out in the public arena.
Where I was a child, back in those days of my innocence, I’m now a proud father, seven months ago I lost one of my kids when my eternal sweetheart Mimizeni died and — for the first time in about two decades — she wasn’t around on Thursday to say, “happy birthday my beloved nigga.”
Cruel fate, somehow, conspired to ensure that the most beautiful flower of my life had to wilt, at the young age of 21, and her dark, grumpy, heavyweight Manchester United-supporting dad would live, as of now, more than double the years she spent on this planet.
Given this year is the Silver Jubilee, the 25th year of my lengthy romantic association with Zimbabwe Newspapers, the only company I have worked for all my life, it means I have spent more years at this firm than my sweetheart spent in this beautiful garden of the living.
Oh, by the way, my 47th birthday anniversary — three short of the magical Golden Jubilee — came in the week leading to the weekend when CAPS United will hold their homecoming show tomorrow to mark a return to the CAF Champions League, a confirmation of their return into the light after years of staggering in the darkness.
And, that means celebrating the greatness of the Green Machine and that brings back a flood of memories of Jubilee, Joel Shambo, also known as Mwalimu or The Headmaster, mazita kuita kupfekerana as the doyen of football commentators on Radio Zimbabwe, Choga Tichatonga Gavure, would always tell us, the ultimate sweetheart of the Makepekepe family, the golden boy they also lost along the way.
Just like Joe and Choga, I also could have been lost to this world, a number of times in my journey, notably when I needed the astonishing bravery of a friend’s brother, Juliano Banda, to rescue me from sinking in a raging river, as we took some swimming lessons as kids back in our days of innocence and adventure in Chakari.
Of course, I lived to tell the tale, not because I’m special, but simply because the Lord God decided I had more miles to clock in this garden of the living, more articles to write on this column, more time to devote to my family and watching my boy Kalusha grow has been a very special privilege and, of course, more years to watch my Red Devils and Warriors battle for glory.
And, long enough to be part of the witnesses to that drama of May 27, 2015 when a stunned football world woke up to the shock announcement by United States authorities that a 47-count indictment (check that number again) had been unsealed in a federal court in New York, charging 14 defendants with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering which, would, signal the beginning of the end of Sepp Blatter’s broken, if not rotten, leadership of FIFA.
That morning, across the Atlantic, Swiss investigators raided the exclusive Hotel Baur-au-Lac in Zurich, Switzerland, and arrested seven high-profile FIFA executives, as they prepared to attend the 65th FIFA Congress, on accusations of having been involved in fraudulent activities running into more than $150 million.
FORTY SEVEN, THE NUMBER, THE MYSTERY AND THE THEORIES
I guess you know about the AK-47 and the P-47 fighter plane used in World War II and some academics believe the number 47 carries some mystical significance and this year marks the 47th year since the FIFA World Cup was first broadcast on television in the splendour of colour after 40 years of black-and-white images.
Some say it was a fitting tribute to the greatest collection of individuals to ever illuminate the World Cup, the finest cast of football thoroughbreds to ever grace the game’s biggest festival, the irresistible Brazilian team made up entirely of home-based superstars led by Pele, at his athletic best, Jairzinho, Carlos Alberto, Tostao, Rivellino and Gerson, which destroyed Italy 4-1 in the final in Mexico.
Four has also been a common number in the UEFA Champions League matches this week — mighty Barcelona being handed a four-goal mauling by PSG in Paris, Real Madrid and Napoli combining to score four goals in Madrid (Real 3, Napoli 1) and the difference in the goals scored in the game in Munich (Bayern 5, Arsenal 1) being four goals.
And, just like the unforgettable events at that ’70 World Cup in Mexico 47 years ago, the enduring performances of this week’s Champions League show were provided by South Americans with Argentine star Angel di Maria scoring two wonder goals in PSG’s humiliation of Barca and Thiago Alcantra, a Brazilian who plays for Spain, also scoring a brace in Bayern’s five-goal demolition of Arsenal.
Carlos Henrique Jose Franscisco Casimiro, the Brazilian midfielder who turns 24 next Friday and who is simply known as Casemiro, scored probably the pick of the Champions League goals this week, a stunning volley from distance that sealed Real Madrid’s 3-1 victory over Napoli on Wednesday night.
And Edison Cavani, an old-fashioned striker from Uruguay, also scored a wonder goal in Paris.
But, while the Champions League came back with a bang this week, with events on the field of play providing beautiful images that will be remembered for a long time, African football was being dominated by the ugliness of the politics of the boardroom as Issa Hayatou tried to flex his muscles and bully COSAFA boss Philip Chiyangwa in the first blow of what promises to be a vicious battle for the CAF presidency.
Hayatou is used to bullying football officials, it’s the way he has shaped his dynasty, his iron grip on African football for about 30 years, ensuring those who dare challenge him pay a big price for doing so, making sure those who don’t tow his line are ruthlessly punished so that they remain with scars that will always remind them who is the Indomitable Lion when it comes to the administration of the game on the continent.
Zimbabwe paid a huge price, for being part of a Southern and Eastern African revolt against Hayatou’s directive for every country on the continent to vote for Lennart Johannsen in the FIFA presidency in 1998, with the Cameroonian and his cartel reminding us who were the bosses by withdrawing our rights to host the 2000 Nations Cup finals on the flimsy excuse our preparations were running late.
And, almost 20 years later, we saw Hayatou and his cronies use the same formula to strip Madagascar of her rights to host the 2017 African Under-17 Championships, simply because the man who is challenging the Cameroonian is from that Indian Ocean island, an entire nation being punished simply because one of them has dared to exercise his right to challenge this monster.
South Africa hasn’t been forgiven, too, for that revolt against Hayatou in Paris in ’98, and the CAF leadership didn’t support the Rainbow Nation’s bid to host the World Cup finals in 2006 and in 2010 they even encouraged Morocco to bid for the 2010 tournament.
I was there in Abidjan, in ‘98, when Hayatou — watching from his VVIP seat — turned a blind eye on one of worst atrocities ever committed on the leader of a visiting football club, on the grand stage of the CAF Champions League, when Memory Mucherahowa was eliminated from the biggest battle of his career in a pre-match brutality choreographed by the hosting team in a sickening incident that defined the match.
And I have watched, over the years, as clubs from this region get a raw deal from referees, who appear to have been plucked from hell, whose bias is so blatant only a fool would suggest they aren’t acting on the instructions of the watching Big Brother who wants to further the interests of those who tow his line.
While the West and North Africans have virtually been given the exclusive rights to host the Nations Cup finals, with Gabon hosting two of the last three tournaments, the crumbs of the less glamorous tournament, CHAN, has been rotated among the Southern and Eastern African nations.
For years we have suffered in silence as if we are second-class citizens of the African football family but, as the spectacular Sepp Blatter downfall should have shown Hayatou just a few months ago, nothing lasts forever in this game and, now, the dynasty that the Cameroonian has built for about 30 years, is being shaken to the core.
And, rightly so!
The winds of change are sweeping across African football, the emperor has been undressed and, for the first time since he took over as the leader of the game on the continent, Hayatou and his camp have been shaken by a group of carefree administrators who have refused to be silenced by the monster’s threats and a culture of fear he has established over the continent.
AND THE BIBLE TELLS US, IN ISAIAH 47, OF THE FALL OF BABYLON
For a man whose biographer, Ayotunde Adelakun, described as “generally calm, always in control of situations, nothing seems to faze him, I always find him composed and he keeps a straight head in dealing with matters that confront him,” the way Hayatou reacted this week with threats to Chiyangwa suggests he is, for the first time, feeling the heat.
Of course, those fighting to topple him might not succeed next month but the mere bravery they have shown in taking him on have planted seeds of both rebellion, and resistance, which will bear a new crop of leaders who will challenge this football emperor and ask tough questions about his commercial links to Sportfive and other CAF partners.
Hayatou says his most memorable football tournament was the ’70 World Cup finals, which means that 47 years have passed since he witnessed his best show on a football field, and he has also picked former England ‘keeper, Gordon Banks, whose best moment in his career came 47 years ago at that World Cup when he made that stunning save from Pele, as his favourite goalminder of all-time.
The CAF president also says Pele, who reserved his best show, for his country, for his last appearance at the World Cup finals — with that brilliant show 47 years ago in Mexico — as his all-time favourite footballer.
I’m not sure of Hayatou’s spirituality and neither am I aware of the spiritual calling of those who have come out of the shadows to declare they will topple him but — those who believe this could be the end of an era for the Cameroonian — might get some inspiration from the Bible.
And, they might probably say it’s not just a coincidence that the Holy Book tells us in Isaiah 47 (his name is Issa and that number again), of the Fall of Babylon, then one of the largest and most powerful cities in the world.
The bible tells us, in Isaiah 13:17, “Look, I will stir up the Medes against Babylon. They cannot be TEMPTED BY SILVER OR BRIBED WITH GOLD,” and Babylon, the glory of the kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
And, in Isaiah 47 (that number again) we are told, “therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know, the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.”
When Isaiah wrote his prophecy, the Medes were a weak tribe, most of them were ruled by other nations and to imagine that they could have the capacity to capture, and destroy, a city as strong as Babylon was considered a joke but it’s something that came to pass.
And the bible tells us the incredible story of how David conquered Goliath and in 1 Samuel 46, David tells the giant Philistine, “this day the Lord will deliver you into my hands and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head, this day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.”
And in 1 Samuel 47 (that number again), David says, “all those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give all of you into our hands.”
Those who are battling to topple Hayatou, which looks like Mission Impossible right now, can probably draw inspiration from the holy word and how the number 47 dominates where dynasties were toppled.
Do you know that the name of Adam, the word leprosy and the verb “to stone” are used 47 times in the Bible and FOURTY SEVEN is the numerical value of the verse in Genesis where it is written, “and God saw that it was good.”
IN POPULAR CULTURE, THE NUMBER 47 IS ALSO SIGNIFICANT
The co-founder of American hip hop outfit, Pro Era, Jamal Dewar, affectionately known by his stage name Capital STEEZ, used to be fixated with the number 47 saying it represented a perfect expression of balance between the heart and the brain.
On December 23, 2012, he tweeted at 11:59 pm, saying “THE END,” and moments later he jumped off a Manhattan rooftop and plunged to his death.
The date of his death, 12/23/12, if added up (12 + 23 + 12) equals 47.
Break down the name ISSA (four letters) and HAYATOU (seven letters) and you get the number 47, break down the name PHIL (four letters) and PHILLIP (seven letters) and you also get the number 47 and don’t tell me that Robb (four letters) and Sharuko (seven letters) also gets you the number 47.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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