‘When I see the nine, I think of the lepers our Saviour cleansed, and nine out of the 10 didn’t even thank Him’
IF I’m not watching or writing about sport, it’s possible I will be listening to music from the Bundu Boys to Paul Matavire, from Leonard Dembo to John Chibadura, from the Beatles to Queen and from Tupac to the Notorious B.I.G.
That’s my life — as simple as that — occasionally a bottle of beer in my hand, or sometimes a glass of whisky.
A prayer every morning when I wake up, a prayer every night before I retire to bed, watching all the fascinating documentaries about sport, and the Mexican and Colombian drug lords like El Chapo and Pablo Escobar on Netflix at home in between.
And, on Wednesday, as I drove home, I found myself listening to a song by Tex Ritter.
It’s a unique song, because it’s all about narration, but it’s quite an inspirational tale of an American soldier who was arraigned before a court martial during World War II in North Africa for playing cards at a church service.
After being told by his commanding officer he faced the toughest punishment ever handed to a soldier if he didn’t justify his actions, the soldier, somehow, defiantly refused to be swallowed by the dire state of his circumstances.
“Sir, I have been on the march for about six days. I had neither a Bible nor a prayer book, but I hope to satisfy you sir with the purity of my intentions,” the soldier boy said as he began to narrate his story.
“You see sir, when I look at the Ace, it reminds me that there is but one God. And the deuce reminds me that the Bible is divided into two parts, the Old and the New Testaments.
“When I see the three, I think Of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And when I see the four, I think of the four Evangelists who preached the Gospel — they were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
“And when I see the five, it reminds me of the five wise virgins who trimmed their lamps; there were 10 of them, five were wise and were saved, five were foolish and were shut out.
“When I see the six, it reminds me that in six days, God made this great heaven and earth, when I see the seven, it reminds me that on the seventh day, God rested from His great work, the eight tells me of the eight righteous persons God saved when He destroyed this earth — they were Noah, his wife, their sons and their wives.
“When I see the nine, I think of the lepers our Saviour cleansed, and nine out of the 10 didn’t even thank Him, when I see the ten, I think of the Ten Commandments God Handed down to Moses on a table of stone and the King reminds me there is but one King of Heaven, God Almighty.
“The queen makes me think of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Queen of Heaven. And the jacks or knaves, it’s the devil. When I count the number of spots on a deck of cards, I find 365, the number of days in a year, there are 52 cards, the number of weeks in a year, there are four suits, the number of weeks in a month.
“There are 12 picture cards, the number of months in a year, there are 13 tricks, the number of weeks in a quarter and, so you see sir, my pack of cards serves me as a Bible, an Almanac and a prayer Book.”
The commanding officer, after listening to the soldier boy’s story, ruled he had no case to answer, quashed all the charges which had been laid against him and freed him.
YES, FOR ALL THE MADNESS, IT’S STILL A BEAUTIFUL WORLD
That same Tuesday, there was another refreshing tale on television — three black American men who were sent to jail for life in 1984 after being wrongly accused and convicted of killing a white schoolboy were released from prison.
The conviction, which has seen them spend exactly 35 years in jail, was quashed by a judge who ruled the trio — Alfred Chestnut, Andrew Stewart and Ransom Watkins — were not responsible for the murder.
These two real life stories might be far away from football, but they all got me thinking about our toxic national game.
And how, just like that American judge who sent those three innocent men to prison for 35 years for something they didn’t do — and shamelessly took away the best part of their lives — we have some hawks among us who are quick to pronounce judgment on others.
How, just like that sergeant who dragged the poor American soldier boy to a court martial, convinced he would be severely punished because he had displayed a deck of cards in church, we have a constituency desperate to always look at the negative side.
A huge family in our football — which whether driven by hate, animosity, hostility, resentment, spitefulness, jealousy, venom or whatever it is — whose eternal gift appears to be to judge others, to paint them with a touch of negativity, to feast on the spoils of darkness.
The same people who are quick to label Edward Sadomba and Method Mwanjali as spent forces, accusing the duo of making a mockery of their legacy by playing on at the age of 36, somehow finding nothing wrong with Zlatan Ibrahimovic doing just that at the same age.
The same people who are quick to label Sadomba and Mwanjali as an insult to the value of the domestic Premiership simply because they are both 36, somehow finding nothing wrong with a 38-year-old Samuel Eto’o making 17 appearances for Qatar SC this year.
They are quick to judge and conclude that simply because Mwanjali and Sadomba — at 36 — are playing in our Premiership, it translates it into a league that has lost its soul, value and appeal, and it’s now as bad as all the boozers’ leagues we see on Saturdays and Sundays.
Yet, they don’t seem to have any problems with 42-year-old Brazilian defender Vitorin Hilton still playing for Montpellier in the French Ligue 1.The same league we say represents a giant leap forward in the career of our midfielder Marshall Munetsi, and rather than use Hilton’s appearance as a barometer to conclude it means Europe’s fifth strongest league is a joke, the same way they used Mwanjali and Sadomba to condemn the domestic Premiership, they actually celebrate the Brazilian’s athleticism to keep himself competitive at such an age.
They are the very same people who celebrate Roger Milla’s heroics, scoring goals at the World Cup finals at the ripe age of 42, but somehow they dramatically shift positions and have deep reservations about Sadomba and Mwanjali playing in the domestic Premiership at the age of 36.
They had no problem, whatsoever, with George Foreman, the two-time world heavyweight boxing champion taking on Shannon Briggs in 1997 at the age of 48 for the right to find the then WBC champion Lennox Lewis.
And, they probably even hailed Foreman as a superman for taking the fight to 12 rounds in this most brutal of sports, and its toughest category, but somehow, they have serious reservations with Sadomba and Mwanjali keeping themselves in shape to play competitive football at the age of 36.
If I was part of the cast of voters, I would have voted for Mwanjali as one of my top three performers in the domestic Premiership this season without any reason to be ashamed of my choice and decision.
THE SAME WAY THEY CONDEMN THE VETERANS IS THE SAME WAY THEY CONDEMN THE YOUTH BRIGADE
And, if you think they target only the veterans like Mwanjali and Sadomba, then you are mistaken because even the youth brigade like Prince Dube, are part of their menu.
Their role is always to condemn, to judge, to look for a reason to hate, to find an avenue to vilify, to get a forum to blast, to squeeze an opportunity to crucify.
One day they tell us Denver Mukamba and his generation are being destroyed at a very young age and being prevented from fulfilling their potential because of lack of discipline, because of lack of focus and because they have chosen to be seduced by the thrills of life rather than concentrate on the challenges of their profession.
The next day, they come back to tell us Mwanjali, Sadomba and their ageless generation — whose discipline and commitment to the values of their profession has helped them reap the benefits of reaching their peak and play as long as they have done where they can still compete at the age of 36 — are an aberration and an insult to the league and their legacy for hanging in this game for this long.
They have been quick to judge this Charming Bosso Prince, saying he represents failure simply because he was released from his contract at SuperSport United.
They don’t even care to look at other extenuating circumstances, including changes in the coaching department which might have worked against him at that South African club, and the possibility he might not have been ready for that adventure at his age because people are different.
Suddenly, they start preaching their gospel of hate as if Prince Dube is the first young footballer to arrive at a foreign club and struggle to make the kind of impression which his new team and those who believed in him had expected when he made the switch.
They decide to ignore the reality that such a situation even happened to great players, like Thierry Henry, long before the Frenchman won the World Cup, long before he became a European champion, long before he became a UEFA Champions League winner.
And, of course, long before they even erected a statue outside the Emirates Stadium in London in recognition of his great service to Arsenal.
They won’t tell you that the same Thierry left Monaco after having won the French Footballer of the Year in 1996, helping his club win the Ligue 1 title the following year, guiding them to the UEFA Champions League semi-final where he set a French record by scoring seven goals in the competition, and arrived at Juventus amid grand expectations.
And, of course, they won’t tell you how he badly struggled to make an impression at the Italian giants, scoring just six goals in 16 appearances before Arsene Wenger plucked him from his misery and took him to Arsenal where Thierry thrived, once again, and transformed himself into one of the world’s finest players.
Lucky him, Thierry, he isn’t from our domestic football family where all they do is judge and condemn others, including suggesting Teenage Hadebe was careless to let the pages of his passport run out, rather than appreciate the fact he thought that, as a high-profile sporting ambassador, he would be given special attention.
These are the people who don’t believe Prince Dube deserves a second chance to show the world his true value as a footballer, and if he were to go to SuperSport now, it’s very likely he would set the stage alight.
After all, he isn’t the only one — Roy Keane being rejected by Brighton only to become a Manchester United legend, Diego Costa being rejected by Corinthians, Palmeiras and Santos only to make it big in Europe, Antoine Griezmann being told he would never make it at Lyon, only for him to become a superstar at Atletico Madrid.
Harry Kane being released by the Arsenal academy after only a year, and then becoming a Spurs legend and England captain, Ruud Gullit failing trials at Arsenal only to become one of the world’s greatest forwards of his generation at AC Milan, Ronaldo being rejected by Flamengo only for him to become a global superstar.
The American commanding officer refused to judge and condemn the soldier boy on face value, and was rewarded with a testimony and defence that showed the soldier boy’s deck of cards was his prayer book and, for goodness sake, don’t just judge Method and Duduza.
And, of course, this Prince Charming.
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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