IN September 1971, John Lennon dragged the world into fantasyland using the charm of a remarkable song that remains a benchmark for both creativity and positivity in the music industry to execute his mission.
Never before, and never since, has a song of such simplicity provided such ferocity in wooing the world to embark on a journey into a utopia pregnant with everything man has ever desired.
It was such a profoundly powerful song it even transformed itself into some sort of global anthem and cast a light on a world that was still reeling from the horror of the Vietnam War.
Rolling Stone magazine described the song, “Imagine,” as Lennon’s “greatest gift to the world,” after being charmed by lyrics of a journey into an imaginary place, free from the demons which have poisoned our beautiful garden of the living.
A world divorced from the burden of challenges, the tension and rifts created by riches and poverty and the conflicts brought about by religious differences.
The song, the magazine said, provided “an enduring hymn of solace and promise that has carried us through extreme grief, from the shock of Lennon’s own death in 1980 to the unspeakable horror of September 11.”
Forty-eight years later, we can still hear Lennon singing:
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only the sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today . . . Aha-ah . . .
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace . . . You . . .
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world.
The world has certainly come a long way since 1971 — when Lennon released “Imagine,” — which also happened to be the year a boy called Josep Guardiola Sala, was born in humble surroundings in Santpedor, in the Catalonia area of Spain.
And, like Charles Dickens’ character Pip in “Great Expectations, his father’s family name being Guardiola Sala, and his name being Josep, the infant tongues of his street football teammates could make from all his names nothing longer, or more explicit, than Pep.
So, they called him Pep and the world would also call him Pep.
The closest thing to a purist in coaching ever to grace football, with the three clubs he has led in La Liga, Bundesliga and the Premiership all holding the record for most consecutive wins in those leagues.
Lovers of beautiful football, short passes, quick movement, this sport’s version of the ease of doing business, have been wooed by Pep’s magic in their millions.
IMAGINE WORLD FOOTBALL
Now, for everything that Pep has done to revolutionise the game, can you just imagine the possibility of a football world without this Spanish genius?
How boring it would be — an island for prophets of attrition and negativity like Jose Mourinho — enemies of the beautiful picture that is painted when this game gets its freedom.
Preachers of darkness, strange believers in the gospel of sucking life out of football and specialists in parking buses as a weird way of a medieval expression of indomitability.
But thank God He also gave us Klopp, we have Zidane, we have Pochettino, we have Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, and we have Pep, men who are willing to invest all their trust in the values of attacking football and all the joy it brings.
And, as part of my tribute to these merchants of attacking football, whose philosophy brightens up our game, I have penned my cover version of the all-time classic by John Lennon:
Imagine there was no Poch and Pep
It’s easy if you really try
No tiki-taka on the football map
Only boring games that’ll make you cry
Imagine if we only had Mourinho and Moyse
It isn’t really hard to do
Nothing to cheer, no need for a voice
And no places for Silva, Hazard and Pogba
Imagine every ball being pumped to Drogba
Imagine a game that doesn’t value possession
I wonder if just can
No need for any training session
A brotherhood whose artistry is in chain
Imagine fans being treated with such disdain
You may say I’m a dreamer
But l believe I’m really a schemer
I hope someday they’ll join us
And football will be all about that killer pass.
IMAGINE IF JABU MAHLANGU WAS A ZIMBABWEAN?
Before this Jabu from Studio 263 hogged the limelight this week for all the wrong reasons with that horrible sex tape, there was Jabu Pule, as talented a South African footballer as they will ever come.
Then there is Jabu Mahlangu, the man who today is a football pundit on SuperSport, who in his dark past used to be Jabu Pule, a rebellious freak of nature who was a slave to both alcohol and drugs.
That carefree young man was also a talented footballer, whom some in South Africa believe was the finest of his generation, and made the first team of Kaizer Chiefs at a very young age.
But his addiction to alcohol and drugs derailed his progress into the super stardom, which his talent promised, and one website described him as “the ultimate tale of talent squandered and opportunities lost”.
His sheer talent meant that Chiefs were able to forgive him, a number of times, but in 2004, when he was just 24 and easing into the peak of his career, the Amakhosi decided they couldn’t take his indiscipline anymore.
And a painful divorce was sealed.
He went to Austria, where he signed for SV Mattersburg, but was off-loaded after just eight months after crashing his car while driving under the influence of alcohol.
Still, his talent meant he was never short of suitors and SuperSport signed him on his return home and twice they sent him to a rehabilitation clinic to try and help him overcome his challenges.
But, after he missed a series of training sessions, they offloaded him in 2005.
In just over a year, he had been sacked by three clubs.
Orlando Pirates and a Swedish club Osters took chances on him, but it was not long become it became clear Pule had descended into a broken soul.
He adopted his father’s surname after having used his mother’s family name all along.
South Africa could have easily turned its back on Jabu Pule and no one would have blamed the Rainbow Nation for that given it had, repeatedly, forgiven its wayward son, gave him another chance, hoping he would see the error of his ways.
But, to their eternal credit, the South Africans refused to choose that path, which would have cast him to rot in hell, and they put him through a rehabilitation exercise that eventually cleared the way for a contract as a football pundit on SuperSport.
Jabu’s remarkable tale of redemption has always made me imagine if all this would have been possible if he had been born this side of the Limpopo — an unforgiving community where people like him are mocked into their graves.
Cast away from society and disowned by their game, their communities and their friends.
Lampooned for having made mistakes in their lives, mocked for having wasted the little fortune they made, rejected for being human — which means there was always a possibility they would err — hammered daily on Facebook and Twitter by faceless characters.
Reminded, at every turn, of their shortcomings, denied help, dismissed as hopeless, useless, helpless, despised by their people, condemned by many analysts, discarded by many friends and scoffed upon by those who used to worship them during their days as stars.
That’s exactly what we did to Zvenyika Makonese, accusing him of wasting his fortune in South Africa’s nightclubs rather than giving him a second chance to redeem himself in life and providing him with the same support offered to Jabu.
And that’s exactly what we did to Francis Shonhayi, a former captain of Dynamos and, more importantly, skipper of the Warriors, leaving him to die penniless, hopeless and helpless in Cape Town.
Rejected by us, the ones he called his people, the ones he served with distinction during his days as leader of our Warriors, the very people for whom he risked life and limb for their cause.
IMAGINE WE ARE ALREADY REJECTING TINASHE
It has taken Delta Beverages to tap into the vast knowledge that Tinashe Nengomasha brought home from his lengthy stay in South Africa, by making him a Castle ambassador, while none of our big clubs seem interested in using him help transform their brands.
We did the same when Philip Zulu, who had harvested a lot of knowledge working in the junior development systems of English clubs, came home to try and help us take our football to another level.
We treated him as an outcast, viewed him with suspicion, never embraced him as one of us, even though he is just a guy from Mbare, and some where even jealousy of him, fearful he would take their jobs instead of opening themselves to him to become better in whatever they do.
Frustrated, having hit a number of obstacles, Philip packed his bags and, after sharing his knowledge with the receptive South Africans, flew back to England.
We mock Moses Chunga, saying he isn’t fluent in English, as if it’s a right for everyone to do that, while the South Africans find a way to accommodate Mark Williams, as a pundit on SuperSport, even though he has a voice which makes it difficult to hear anything he says.
For the South Africans, Mark Williams should always be accommodated, somewhere, somehow, because his goals in that AFCON final in 1996, made him their hero and not even his voice can provide a barrier.
Today, we watch Dwight Yorke as a pundit on SuperSport during Champions League matches and we idolise him, willing to forget he was recently a subject of a bankruptcy petition after squandering his fortune.
And that he used to be such a sickening playboy. He even boasted in his book about how he used to make love to different women in the back of the taxis and, on certain wild nights, would sleep with as many as five women.
Imagine if he was one of us.
Would we give him another chance, forget the past and provide a path for him to find redemption?
Imagine if Caster Semenya was one of us, would we rally, as one united nation, the way the South Africans are doing, behind her as she battles a bid to push her out of athletics?
The most successful African Olympian is Zimbabwean, but just go on Twitter, and Facebook, and see the shocking abuse that Kirsty Coventry takes simply because she decided to serve her country in Government.
Take a moment and think about all this, take an imaginary ride into Lennon’s fantasyland, and you will see the fault lines we have allowed to divide us when everyone is imagining there is no hell below us.
To God Be The Glory!
Come on Warriors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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