The Long Kiss GOODBYE II
Sharuko On Saturday
I EXPECTED there would be a reaction, predictably an explosion of emotions, possibly a wave of dejection and probably a sense of deflation.
Of course, I didn’t expect a standing ovation.
What I was absolutely sure about was that there would certainly be a whole lot of questions.
I knew it would possibly create some friction, between me and my loyal army of readers, including some who ended up toying around with the idea of a petition.
Or, as others called it, some sort of demonstration!
There was even a call for an investigation, as to why I had decided to draw the curtains, without — as they said very loud and clear — giving any consideration to them.
There were a lot of misconceptions, a number of interpretations, including some guys who appeared to suggest that I was bound, by some form of a fantasy football constitution, to keep on writing.
And like Johnnie Walker, in that famous Scottish Whisky brand, keep on walking.
There were some calls for a documentation, of all the episodes I have had the pleasure of writing, during a lengthy marathon, which strengthened my bond with the readers.
I knew I would strain some of my relations and, when that happened, I would not be in a position to offer any possible solution to this mini crisis.
It’s always hard to let go.
It’s a journey which started in ’99, amid the fears of a global computer meltdown, in the new millennium, the arrival of the Euro and the Miracle of Camp Nou, in the Champions League.
It was the year of the Treble, it hasn’t happened since and night not happen again, and the year of the Fight of the Millennium, when Felix Trinidad edged Oscar de la Hoya, in a split 12-round decision.
So, after 23 years of weekly conversations on these pages, in which we laughed, cried, shed tears, cracked jokes in the adventure of our life, we are now preparing to say goodbye to each other.
We have given each other enough time to adjust to the reality that, at the end of next month, it will all come to an end.
For some, it will be GOOD RIDDANCE, the End of an Error by Zimpapers, to dedicate all these acres of prime real estate on its flagship newspaper, to this madman from the compounds of Chakari.
The beauty about life is that there is always another side to a coin. Which means that, for a sizable constituency, it will be the end of an era, the month when the music will die, and the feedback I have been getting, all week, proves just that.
I will just pick a few of the responses:
“It has been a pleasure and an honour to read your articles. I looked forward to my dad returning from his Saturday run with the latest edition, and waiting patiently for him to finish reading it, or stealing a glimpse while he was in the shower. I was only 10 years old then. But, those memories of reading about English football, the Warriors, DeMbare, Kepekepe made me fall in love with the beautiful game. For your dedication and undying commitment to your art, we thank you. God Bless.”
“It was good while it lasted. Thanks for everything Godfather. Saturday Herald will never be the same again, especially in these times where news is all over the social media platforms. I always look for the Saturday Herald to read your analysis since soccer news is now all over.”
RANGA MBERI @RANGAMBERI
“Mukoma, if this is a way of seeking our permission to retire, be advised we reject it. Hakuna.”
“If I had the powers I would have rejected your resignation.”
“Everything else can come to an END but not SOS. Iwe mukomana weku Chakari kwana. Sharuko on Saturday will come to an END on your death day period.”
“Your word gymnastics enticed me to read your sport articles. (Saturday Herald) raHeadmaster ndairova five days reading same article. There’s a certain stage where I think kuti I was addicted to your articles. Ndakanzi ‘uri kupedzera mari ku newspaper.’ Lidhodha Duvha!”
SEKURU GUDO WEKWADOTITO
“As a Senior Citizen, I vividly recall how as @capsunitedfczw supporters we hated you in your early days at Herald. We would spend hours at Raylton scheming how to beat the blue out of you because of your perceived bias towards DeMbare. Never thought you would live this far. Goodbye Rob.”
I have done just that Sekuru, God has been more than fair to me, and my family, we have had our personal tragedies, we have had our good and bad moments.
David is 28 now, Tako is 27, Kalu is 21, Marlo is 18, which means that all my boys, in a way, have become men.
TWENTY THREE ALL OUT
These boys provide me with a reminder of the journey I have travelled, where I came from and I am right now.
They remind me that where I used to do things, at a Formula One pace, I now need to slow down to the speed of scotch cart.
It’s never easy to end a beautiful romance, one which, at the time it will come to an end next month, would have been rumbling on for almost a quarter-of-a-century.
But, that’s the reality that, after 23 years, it’s all coming to an end.
Maybe, it just had to happen at 23, the special number, the one which was on Michael Jordan’s jersey as he inspired the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles.
Some of his individual performances, during that success story which was written in pure gold, defied reality, at times mocked gravity and insulted mediocrity.
But, even MJ’s story, as the greatest NBA star of all-time, had to come to an end one day.
Julius Caesar was not just a legendary Roman general and Emperor.
He was also an accomplished author.
As fate would have it, when the end finally came for the great Julius Caesar, it was via 23 stab wounds from those who assassinated him.
That was on the Ides of March, 15 March 44 BC.
Some will tell you that there is also a religious link to this number — after all, the Qur’an was revealed, in a total of 23 years, to Prophet Muhammed.
Muslims also believe that the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad on the 23rd night of the 9th Islamic month.
For Christians, Psalm 23, is possibly the most quoted and best known Psalm.
For those, who find a reason to doubt or mock the Bible, it should be interesting for you to note that the word blasphemy appears 23 times in the Holy Book.
The birthday paradox tells us that, in a group of 23 (or more) randomly chosen people, the probability is more than 50% that some pair of them will have the same birthday.
It’s also our number, as human beings, given that normal human sex cells have 23 chromosomes and other human cells have 46 chromosomes, arranged in 23 pairs.
It even gets interesting when one considers that the average human physical biorhythm is 23 days and blood circulates the body, on average, every 23 seconds.
You can say that the number 23 is also part of our football and a part of my journalism adventure.
I was 23 when I covered my first domestic Premiership game, in 1993.
This was also the first season of the local Premiership evolution and its introduction came exactly 23 years, after the World Cup matches, were shown on colour television, for the first time, in 1970.
In 2026, when Highlanders will celebrate 100 years, 23 years would have passed since the club’s greatest son, Peter, helped his country qualify for the AFCON finals, for the first time.
I will be 56 then, God willing, and that’s 23 years longer than the time Jesus Christ spent on this earth trying to show us that he was the truth, the way and the life.
It took 23 years, after Independence, for a club, owned entirely by an individual, to win the domestic Premiership, when Amazulu were crowned champions, in 2023.
Delma Lupepe blazed a trail and cleared the path to success for the likes of CAPS United, under Twine Phiri in 2004 and 2005, Gunners, under Cuthbert Chitima, in 2009, and Motor Action, under Eric Rosen, in 2010.
Farai Jere’s CAPS would follow suit in 2016.
What about Monomotapa in 2008?
Well, this wasn’t a one-man band because the club was jointly owned by Solomon Mugavazi and Lysias Sibanda.
THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
It took 23 years for us to finally end our lengthy wait for a place at the AFCON finals when Sunday Chidzambwa ended the jinx.
Fittingly, the skipper Peter Ndlovu scored the final two goals, in our final qualifier, in July 2003, which handed us a ticket to Tunisia.
A month earlier, world football had been shattered by the sudden death of Marc-Vivien Foe, after he collapsed on the pitch, at the Confederations Cup in Lyon, France.
The tragedy felt quite close for us because, in that very stadium in Lyon, we had celebrated one of our Warriors’ finest stories, in 1993, when our World Cup replay against Egypt ended in a goalless draw.
Foe’s shirt number at Manchester City was 23 and the English champions retired it as a show of respect to the Cameroonian star.
While the Warriors served us with some great memories, I still believe, as I wave goodbye to this blog, that the finest adventure was the one which was scripted by the Glamour Boys in 1998.
Back in the days when Dynamos was the real deal, the genuine Boys in Blue, a Seven Million club, Haina Ngozi.
The people’s team, and not this one which is a mockery to what everything these Glamour Boys used to stand for, an insult to the standards which they used to scale.
It’s only the name which remains, the colours of the kit, to an extent, the soul has been devoured by selfish bosses, while the heart has been ripped out, by short-sighted individuals, doing their best to masquerade as genuine leaders.
Even the fans have deserted the ship.
But, back in ’98, it wasn’t like this and the National Sports Stadium was transformed into a theatre of their dreams and, on average, there would be 55 000, singing in the DeMbare corner.
During that Champions League campaign, as good a Cinderella adventure as our football can possibly give us, those Glamour Boys reached the gates of paradise.
Along the way they beat Wanderers of Malawi home-and-away.
Then, George Mandizvidza produced one of the greatest goalkeeping shows, including a miraculous save, in which he appeared to twist his frame in mid-air, to get a point in Maputo, against Ferroviario.
I will, never forget a colleague, as we flew from Harare to Johannesburg en-route to Maputo, who asked for Mazoe in that British Airways Comair flight.
His innocence had made him believe Mazoe was, just like Coca-Cola, an international drink which the South African flight attendants knew quite well.
A group of DeMbare fans, who had hired a kombi for a road trip from Harare to Maputo, ended up arriving a day after the match.
Nigeria’s Eagle Cement lost home-and-away to those Glamour Boys, including a 0-3 thrashing in Harare.
Etoile du Sahel were beaten in Harare while Hearts of Oak were held in Accra as DeMbare topped the group and secured a place in the final.
No one will ever convince me that those Glamour Boys were not the best club in Africa in ’98 and, were it not for the gamesmanship in Abidjan, they would have been crowned champions.
If their inspirational captain, Memory Mucherahowa, had not been elbowed out of his club’s biggest match, in that shameless pre-match attack which sent him to hospital, the outcome of that match could have been different.
Questions still haunt me to this day – why didn’t Issa Hayatou, who was sitting in the VVIP Enclosure, intervene for the sake of Fair Play?
Why didn’t the Tunisian referee, Mourad Daami, who saw this attack, given they were also conducting their warm-up close to the incident, send off the ASEC players who attacked Memory?
Of course, I know now that Daami was too compromised by the system to act on Mucherahowa, which robbed them of their inspirational skipper, in their biggest game in history.
Three years later, in 2001, I began to understand why he didn’t act when Daami was banned for a year by CAF for trying to influence another referee, during the 2000 Champions League final.
Daami arrived in Accra as a guest of Tunisian side, Esperance, who were in town for a Champions League final date against Hearts of Oak.
Daami entered the referee’s change room, to try to persuade referee Robbie Williams of South Africa, to call off the match because of rioting at Accra’s National Stadium.
Esperance were trailing on aggregate and tried all sorts of tricks to try and get the match abandoned with Daami personally persuading Williams to call off the game.
In February that year, Daami had taken charge of the 2000 Nations Cup final between Nigeria and Cameroon in Lagos.
The game spilled into a penalty shootout, after a 2-2 draw after extra-time.
Television replays would show that Daami was at fault in disallowing a spot kick, during the shoot-out, taken by Nigeria’s Victor Ikpeba when the ball hit the underside of the crossbar, crossed the line, before bouncing out.
It was a huge mistake as Cameroon won 4-3 on penalties.
This was the Nations Cup, which Hayatou took away from us, and there are some who still believe Daami’s actions were deliberate meant to benefit his master, the then CAF boss.
Hayatou is from Cameroon.
Incredibly, Daami was back in charge of another AFCON final, between Egypt and Cote d’Ivoire, in Cairo on February 10, 2006.
It’s something that can only happen in African football.
Well, that’s for others to deal with and analyse because, after 23 years, I am now bringing the curtain down on this blog.
In four years’ time, God willing, I will probably return, just for a week, to celebrate Highlanders’ 100th anniversary.
The milestone will come exactly 23 years since the club’s greatest son, Peter Ndlovu, helped us qualify for the AFCON finals, for the first time, in 2003.
I will be 56 then, God willing.
That’s 23 years longer than the time Jesus Christ spent on this earth trying to show us that he was the truth, the way and the life.
The 23 000th verse of the Bible addresses the last days of this world where people will be looking for the Jews because God will be with them.
As I walk away, and I begin to say goodbye, I just want you to remember that:
“The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
“Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”
That’s Psalm 23!
To God Be The Glory!
Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton, Daily Service, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and all the Chakariboys still in the struggle.
Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Text Feedback 0772545199
Email — [email protected]
You can also interact with me on Twitter (@Chakariboy), Facebook, Instagram (sharukor) and Skype (sharuko58) and GamePlan, the authoritative football magazine show on ZTV, where I interact with the legendary Charles “CNN” Mabika, is back every Wednesday night at 9.30pm