A diplomat’s love for Macheso, Warriors . . . South Korean ambassador shares lighter side of life in Zim
Godwin Muzari Arts Editor
He made a surprise appearance at Alick Macheso’s birthday celebration at Aquatic Complex in Chitungwiza on June 18, 2018.
As he went on stage to join the sungura star, many people were curious to know who this man was. He had a cake for the birthday boy and they jovially embraced. It was obvious that they already knew each other.
Macheso had previously announced that some fans and friends from across the Southern Africa region had come to support him on this big day, which was also meant to celebrate the release of his album “Dzinosvitsa Kure” and commemorate his band, Orchestra Mberikwazvo’s 20th Anniversary.
It became obvious that this was one of Macheso’s foreign fans. When the introduction was finally made, many people were startled.
This man was not just a music fan from outside the country. His home is far beyond Southern Africa. He is a diplomat. South Korea’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, His Excellence Cho Jaichel.
There was more curiosity and fascination among Macheso’s fans. How did a man from Korea fall in love with sungura music to the extent of bringing a special present for Macheso?
Just like the distance between Zimbabwe and South Korea, the cultures and music tastes are miles apart. Yes, music is a universal language but people wanted to know more about this unique relationship.
Ambassador Cho has a touching story to tell about how he became Macheso’s fan. But wait a moment.
There is another fascinating tale about the diplomat’s social interaction with Zimbabweans. He also loves soccer and he has become an avid follower of the national football team.
As we were having a chat at his offices on Wednesday, Ambassador Cho was in a jovial mood, just like any other Warriors fan, because of the team’s qualification for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations following their victory over Congo last Sunday.
The diplomat’s tale of how he started following the Warriors begins with a recount of the team’s match against Liberia at the National Sports Stadium on July 11, 2017.
It was only four months after the ambassador’s arrival in Zimbabwe and, as a soccer fan, he chose to watch the Warriors in the early days of their Afcon campaign.
“I was there at the stadium. It was my first time to see the Zimbabwean national team in action. It was a great experience because the team did well. Their captain Knowledge Musona impressed with his leadership and hard work. I fell in love with the team on that very day after they beat Liberia 3-0,” he recalled.
Musona scored a hat trick in the match that stole the ambassador’s heart. From that day, the diplomat supported the Warriors all the way. He did not only cheer them from the terraces, he also had words of inspiration for the team.
On May 30, 2018, he wrote an inspirational article for the Warriors in The Herald. It was headlined “From South Korea with love”.
His opening lines said it all about his passion for Warriors’ success.
“As a football fan, I am waiting for this coming June with great expectation. I would like to see again the winning moments of the Zimbabwean Warriors. I want to feel again the energy and enthusiasm of real footballers,” Cho wrote as he looked forward to another Warriors match.
He then referred to the Liberia match and noted: “At that time I was at the National Sports Stadium in Harare with Zimbabwean football fans. The Zimbabwe Warriors showed me everything I had wanted to see in a football match. The Warriors’ pure enthusiasm for football was very touching.”
He also wrote about Musona’s exploits in that match.
“Knowledge Musona was perfect in his debut game as captain. Not only did he lead the united Warriors, but also, he alone scored all the three goals of the match. Whenever I mention about what the real role of the captain is, I will easily recall Knowledge Musona as the best model.”
So, when he smiled and jovially praised the Warriors during our Wednesday interview, Ambassador Cho was sharing something that is from deep down his heart. His love for the team was written all over his countenance.
He linked the hard work the Warriors did to the general attitude among Zimbabweans. He has been to many parts of the world, but he sees hard work and resilience as attributes that differentiate Zimbabweans from others.
It is also the resilience and hard work that attracted him to Macheso. The story of how Macheso rose from humble beginnings – soldiering against odds that included growing up without his father’s care – gave the diplomat interest in the musician.
When he finally met Macheso, the musician’s humility and industrious nature struck Ambassador Cho. He wanted to be the musician’s fan, but ended up going beyond loving the music. He became the musician’s friend.
“When I came into Zimbabwe, I began researching about local musicians. I read stories about many singers and I was touched by Macheso’s story. I developed an interest his music. I looked for interpretations of his lyrics. They are rich lyrics that can relate to many situations,” he said.
“When I attended his show, I was surprised by his energy on stage. I could read into his expressions as he sang each song. I felt I was part of what he was singing. His actions on stage can speak to anyone. He has great talent.”
After observing his stage act, the diplomat tasked someone at the embassy to arrange a meeting with Macheso. The musician is Zimbabwe Red Cross Society’s humanitarian ambassador. The embassy approached Red Cross with the request and a meeting was arranged.
Their meeting was the beginning of a journey into strong friendship. They have visited each other’s offices. They have had dinner together. They have shared jokes.
On that birthday celebration at Aquatic complex, the ambassador delivered a birthday cake that he personally baked. Oh, what level of love!
“I made the birthday cake with assistance from my chef. I made a design that I knew would express what I feel about Macheso’s music. When I delivered it he did not know I had made it. He was surprised when I later told him. He felt so humbled and his appreciation was also humbling.”
When Macheso released “Dzinosvitsa Kure”, he took an autographed CD to the diplomat. Such is the level of their friendship.
In an earlier interview, Macheso saluted the ambassador for showing faith in him.
“He has supported me in a big way. I did not know someone from Korea could fall in love with my music. It is a sign that music is powerful.
‘‘It is also a sign that the ambassador has a great heart. We have visited each other on several occasions. We share ideas and he encourages me to keep working hard,” said Macheso.
Just like the encouragement that he gives to Macheso, Ambassador Cho’s message to Zimbabweans is to keep working hard for their country.
“Zimbabweans are hard workers. Symbolically, I liken their endurance to the place where the country derives its name – the Great Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a house of stone that will not fall easily. The people should be united and continue with that spirit. This country has a great future. Its challenges will pass.”