Sharuko on Saturday
THERE are things that simply blow you away, like reading about the enduring impact you have made on other people’s lives, through simply doing your work.
Two messages, which I received this week amid the festival of happiness in which the cyberspace party of my Golden Jubilee turned into a celebration of this blog, really humbled me.
One was from someone who, typical of today’s digital world goes with the adopted name of @fibionic, who told me he only received a single letter from home during his, or her, high school days.
“Happy birthday baba, I received only one letter when I was in High School,’’ that reader tweeted. “The letter was from my dad, it was a newspaper cutting of your article. It should have been ‘The Tale of Three Brothers.’ I loved your articles and he thought I shouldn’t miss that one.’’
The other one was a Whatsapp message from Robert Marawa, the doyen of sports broadcasting in Africa who is about to clock a million followers on Twitter, as if to underline his massive influence.
“Just landed back from Cape Town,’’ he wrote. “Oh wow! Happy 50th Birthday my senior! What a landmark! You are such a gifted scribe and a lovely human being and, in the absence of Mom and Dad, please allow us to thank them for raising such an upstanding son.’’
Well, I have always believed in God, despite all my shortcomings as a human being, and that’s why — for as long as I can remember — I have always prayed, after taking a bath, every morning.
I am quite a superstitious person, one who believes everything happens for a reason, and I have always told myself that the last instalment of the “Sharuko On Saturday” blog I wanted to write should come just the week after I turn 50.
That is, God willing, and I was still around, and still working at this great newspaper.
And, when I turned 50, on Sunday, the little reminder flicked in my mind and, since then, I have been battling with my conscience as to whether — as per that personal commitment — this has to be the swansong article in the life of this blog.
Once again, the tears came rolling down my cheek on Thursday, I started crying, trying to find if I had the courage to say that, “after 20 years, I guess, it’s hard to say thank you and goodbye.’’
A part of me has been saying that it’s the way life is, that there is a time to come, and a time to go, and the time to go, for this blog, has come.
It has been saying this is the perfect timing for the retirement of this blog.
After all, it’s exactly 20 years since this blog came into life in 2000 and, back then, we never thought it would rumble for this long (both in length and in life).
But God has been on our side.
Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Chelsea on Monday night, marked the first time the Red Devils have completed a league double over the Blues, while keeping a clean sheet in both matches, since the 1964/1965 season.
That’s 55 years ago.
Well, Sir Stanley Matthews, one of the greatest footballers of all-time, finally brought the curtain down on his glittering career that season and, as if by some sheer coincidence, he was — just like me today — 50 years and five days old.
It’s exactly 50 years since the World Cup was first shown in colour on television, 40 years after Dynamos won the inaugural post-Independence league title, 30 years after Highlanders won their first league championship and 20 years after Bosso became the new millennium’s first champions.
All the perfect ingredients for a blog, forever associated with football, to bring down the curtain and the blogger to say “after 20 years, I guess it’s hard to say thank you and goodbye.’’
THAT’s THE WAY IT IS, THE WAY IT WAS MEANT TO BE
I’m from the old school, those who believe our paths in life follow a certain pre-determined route, and I am who I am, not because I’m special, but simply because that’s what the Lord wanted me to be.
I am someone who believes none of us is as intelligent as all of us.
Don’t ask me how fate seemingly keeps creeping up, and tying itself, with that little voice, which has been telling me that this should be the end of the life of this blog.
Unless, of course, you can explain to me how Paul Scholes managed to score in his first game for Manchester United, scored in his 100th game, scored in his 200th game, scored in his 300th game, scored in his 400th game, scored in his 500th game and scored in his 700th game for the Red Devils?
Of course, in his 200th game, it was an own goal but isn’t that still something that just blows you off your mind?
If that isn’t bizarre enough, what about Atletico Madrid, who have been trending this week after beating Liverpool, won the Europa League in 2010?
And, in the same year, Bayern Munich finished as runners-up in the Champions League, Spain won the World Cup, Manchester United finished second in the Premier League, Chelsea were FA Cup winners, Tottenham finished fourth and Portsmouth were relegated from the Premiership?
And, two years later, Atletico again won the Europa League.
And, just like two years earlier, Bayern Munich were again runners-up in the Champions League, United were runners-up in the Premier League and Spain were champions of Europe.
Chelsea again won the FA Cup, Portsmouth were relegated from the Championship and Spurs once again finished fourth.
How is it possible that Manchester United would appoint a Scottish manager, John Chapman, in 1921 and also appoint another Scottish manager, David Moyes, in 2013 and on both occasions the Red Devils lost 1-4 at Manchester City, lost by one goal to Liverpool, drew 0-0 against Chelsea, lost by one goal at home to West Bromwich Albion, beat Sunderland and drew their eighth match 1-1.
Somehow, Arsenal’s best manager in the Premiership era had to be called Arsene, the first manager to win the Premiership title with Man City had to be called Mancini, David Beckham, known for whipping in dangerous crosses during his career, had to be born at Whipps Cross University Hospital.
Why is it that the difference, in age, between Messi and Ronaldo is 869 days and that is also the same difference, in age, between their two sons?
BATTLING INTERNAL DEMONS, WEIGHED DOWN BY THE FEAR OF LETTING DOWN A CONSTITUENCY
The internal demons have been tearing me apart this week — the little voice saying I should stick with my commitment, to retire this blog, the week after turning 50, the other voice saying that will be letting down the family of readers I have created along the way?
What would I tell someone like the late Stephen Chifunyise, in the event we meet in the other life, if I do exactly the opposite of what he asked me, not to retire this blog, in a letter in January last year — just seven months before his death, at the age of 70?
“I was surprised this morning to find ‘Sharuko On Saturday’ in The Saturday Herald. I had given up the search for months. I just could not believe that you had stopped writing the column.
“I am one of the millions of readers of The Saturday Herald who were attached to the paper by ‘Sharuko On Saturday.’ The absence of your column was devastating, I missed so much of your lessons about life explained mainly through sports events, personalities and recollections on incidents and encounters you faced.
“You, and The Herald, may have not realised that your column adds a lot of value to the newspaper and that its absence reduces the significance of The Saturday Herald.
“You see, on Saturday I can read ‘Sharuko on Saturday’ so many times just to enjoy your style of presentation of fairly tough issues in a manner all readers will not mind your critical outlook because of the lessons on life contained in the writing.
“Please continue writing. You are not writing for yourself, but for us.’’
During my Golden Jubilee celebrations, a reader of this blog even called me his hero which, in all fairness, was stretching things a bit too far.
If you ask me, the real heroes are those thousands who perished at Chimoio and Nyadzonia, and all the other areas, fighting for our freedom.
The men and women, boys and girls, who sacrificed everything, not in pursuit of individual rewards, but for their country — despite all the dangers associated with that, especially, those who never came back home to tell their stories.
They are the heroes who fought for people like the late Alan Hlatshwayo, the first black Sports Editor of this newspaper, to be given a chance to get the most prestigious job in Zimbabwean sports journalism.
Before Independence, it would have been kept away from him, on the basis of the colour of his skin.
That, the opportunity came 92 years after the establishment of this newspaper, in 1891, probably told the whole story.
Only three black journalists, the other one being the late Sam Marisa, have so far been handed the privilege to lead the sports section of this newspaper, in its 129-year history.
It’s something I derive a lot of pride from.
And, for getting that honour and opportunity, I will always remain eternally indebted to those men, and women, who sacrificed everything to make it possible.
I was just a mere Grade One pupil in Chakari in 1977, when the Chimoio Massacre unfolded.
And, 21 years later, thanks to the grand opportunities those heroes opened for us with their ultimate sacrifice, I was in Burkina Faso covering the ’98 AFCON finals.
As the years pass by, it’s easy to forget that football, this very game we love with all our hearts, can only be played if the world is at peace with itself.
And, that, for six years, between 1939 and 1945, virtually all of the major leagues were suspended because of World War II.
It’s easy to forget that even the World Cup was not held in 1942 and 1946 because of the Great War.
Last month, the world marked 75 years since the notorious mass murder camp of Auschwitz, the heart of the Holocaust darkness where an estimated 1,1 million people, mainly Jews, were killed by the Nazis.
It’s a reminder of how things can quickly go wrong and why, when we celebrate life, as I did last Sunday, and look into the future, we should never forget our past.
And, I will always remember the words of a Jewish professor, whose father was killed at Auschwitz, who went there last month to mark 75 years of the liberation of those who were stuck in that camp of hell.
He talked about how he came face-to-face “with the presence of absence, that absence shows the presence, the ghosts are there, the evil is there.
“The magnitude of what happened there, my father’s absence is larger than everything present, the absence shows a paradox, the presence of absence and the absence of presence.”
“The images are there, the souls are there, even if it’s all unseen.’’
That’s why, as I battle with my demons right now, I don’t want to hear someone say I’m some kind of their hero because the real heroes are those men, and women who, in our case, sacrificed everything for our freedom.
The present reminds us of their absence, their absence shows the present, their images are there, their souls are there, even if it’s all unseen.
Because of them we can talk about our football, regularly play in the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers, which wasn’t the case back then, and bloggers like me can analyse all its beautiful drama. Bloggers like me can analyse all its beautiful drama.
To God Be The Glory!
Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton and all the Chakariboys in the struggle.
Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole Ole!
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You can also interact with me on Twitter — @Chakariboy, Facebook, Instagram — sharukor and every Wednesday night, at 9.45pm, when I join the legendary Charles “CNN’’ Mabika and producer Craig “Master Craig’’ Katsande on the ZBC television magazine programme, “Game Plan”.