… Of course, football is still here, and so is Pele, who turned 80 last Friday and, so is Maradona, who turned 60 yesterday.
Sharuko On Saturday @20
FITTINGLY, it had to be a Sunday – the special day which, for many Christians, represents the Lord’s Day.
The principal day of worship, a weekly memorial service to reflect, and celebrate, the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
They call it Super Sunday in the English Premiership.
The final day of the season when all 10 matches are played on the same day, and time, and it has produced some of the finest moments in the history of the league.
Of course, none more dramatic than the events of May 13, 2012 when Manchester United, having won their final game, had their hands on the trophy.
With Manchester City down, at home, to Queens Park Rangers, in a game they needed to win to be champions, another success story appeared to have been written for Sir Alex Ferguson and his men.
But, in time added on, Edin Dzeko headed City level and, then, Sergio Agüero created a pocket of space for himself, down the right channel, and hit the sweetest of drives for an incredible victory.
Cue in the poet, the master, the legend, Peter Drury!
“Staggering, just staggering! He’s won the league with 90 seconds of stoppage time to play. It’s just the most extraordinary scenario you could have dreamt up.
“Where does football go from here?”
Of course, football is still here, and so is Pele, who turned 80 last Friday and, so is Diego Maradona, who turned 60 yesterday.
So is this blog, which turned 20 recently, leading to us being honoured by the guys at Baobab Chats, this week.
And, so am I!
Tomorrow, the clocks marks 28 years since I first arrived here, fresh from journalism school, to begin a relationship that continues to this day.
November 1, 1992!
That’s the day I arrived and, a quarter-of-a-century, plus another three years later, I’m still here — still writing, still editing, still learning, still teaching others, still working.
And, it had to be here, on this newspaper which, just like Juventus, when it comes to Italian football, is the grand Old Lady of Zimbabwean newspapers.
One hundred and twenty eight years and counting, the Mother Ship, the beast that has, as many lovers as those that hate it, but the one no one can ever ignore.
November 1, 1992!
Marvelous Nakamba and Tino Kadewere were not yet born.
Two years would pass before Nakamba’s arrival, into this world, in the heart of the vast coalfields of Hwange on January 19, 1994.
Today, 26 years later, he is the only footballer from Southern Africa playing in the English Premiership, as part of an Aston Villa dressing room that has undergone a £240m makeover, in the past year.
Another two years would also pass before Tino’s arrival, into this world, in the heart of the capital’s political cauldron of Highfield, on January 5, 1996.
Today, 24 years later, he is part of French Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyon.
The Double-Ks, Knowledge and Khama, were just mere toddlers, a couple of two-years old, fully dependent on their mothers for everything, when I first walked into The Herald’s doors.
Today, they are the supermen of the Warriors, one of them is the captain, the other is the talisman, and together they provide the team with its X-Factor.
Back then, in November 1992, The Silver Fox, Wilfred Mugeyi, was the best player on the domestic football scene, Black Aces were still around, and were about to win their only championship after Independence.
Today, both are remembered in the past tense, the Silver Fox, unfortunately, for a glaring miss at the AFCON finals in 2004 which, the army of critics, who appear to have a PHD in brutality, have sadly used as a reference point, to define his career.
As if, when you come to think of it, his whole dance on the football fields was all about that ball, which flew from his boots and into the S’fax skyline, that night in Tunisia.
When, the reality, for some of us who choose to see the light, rather than the darkness, is that the Silver Fox was far much more than that.
A complete package, when it comes to a football speciman, brutal strength, deceptive pace, a Fox in the Box, a good goal-scorer and a scorer of good goals.
In short, one of the best strikers we have had the privilege to watch, in our game.
Don’t worry Silver Fox, some of them don’t even know that, back in November ’92, you were the best footballer on the domestic football scene.
IT WAS ALL DREAM, I USED TO READ PARADE MAGAZINE, RAMBO AND SHAMBO IN LIMOUSINE
Well, along the way, Black Aces collapsed, Peter Nyama and Charles “Dissa’’ Mandizvidza died, maybe we should have known, back then, it was never going to last.
But, how could we forget?
The Doctor, Rodrick Muganhiri, Fresh Chamarengah, Peter “Skipper” Manyara, Bernard “Machipisa” Dzingayi, Maronga “The Bomber” Nyangela, Boniface “Keegan” Makuruzo, Daniel “DC’’ Chikanda, Byron “Piri Piri” Manuel.
Archieford “Chehuchi” Chimutanda, Shadreck Ngwenya, July “Jujuju” Sharara, David Muchineripi, Brenna Msiska, Sunday Masauso, William Mugeyi, Clever Hunda, Charles Gwazvo, Wonder Chisetera, Booker Muchenu.
Nigel Munyati, Moses “Gwejegweje” Chasweka, Kinnah Abel, John Mbidzo, Stanley Mashezha, Percy Mwase, Shadreck “Waga Waga” Dzvairo, Peter Gogoma, Richard Nyamutenha, Wisdom Mutemanjiri, Charles Kaseke.
Shingi Nyamadzawo, Meyer Eric, Mugove Munyorovi, Emmanuel Nyahuma, Tapfumaneyi Dodo, Patrick Mangava, Itayi Kapini, Mike “Dread” Madzivanyika, Francis “Gazza” Jayman, Nqobizitha Ncube, Canny Tongesayi, Kimathi Dhlamini, Davis Mbidzo.
Tinashe Nengomashe, Tapiwa Kapini, Rabson Masauso and Rabson “Sarafina” Mchichwa.
Some stars are never meant to be forgotten.
They are the angels of immortality, their memories provide us with refuge, when the army of pretenders come along to feed us with regular dosages of mediocrity.
Those Aces legends, whose club’s finest hour came in November ’92 when Shaisa Mufaro were crowned champions, started — just like me, just like the Notorious B.I.G — with just a dream.
Once again, as we always do on such occasions, let’s cue in Biggie Smalls, for the singalong lyrics, which I borrowed from his hit song, to try and sing about my story.
“It was all a dream, I used to read Parade magazine
Rambo and Shambo sitting in the limousine
Hanging their pictures on my bedroom wall
Way back, when I used to wear my red-and-black Man Utd shirt
In our stadium, on Sundays, as we watched visiting clubs fall
“Remember the Jarzin Man, Admire Taderera, he was the real star
I never thought that writing about football would take me this far
Now I’m in the limelight, because I always wanted to be a playwright
Time to get paid, blow up like Chakari’s booming gold trade
“Born a sinner, because they never thought a miner’s kid could be a winner
Well, I remember when I used to eat just beans for dinner
Peace to the Gepa Chief, the Big Fish, Solo Banda, Jim Banda, Sam Mwale, Charlie Mwale
And all the Chakariboys still in the struggle
“I’m blowing up, like you never thought I would
Call Chakari, M4 82, same number, same hood, and it’s all good
Birthdays were the worst days, now we sip wine when we’re thirsty
And, if you didn’t know now you know, why we Chakariboys will never be nasty.”
So, tomorrow, exactly 28 years ago, one of local media’s unlikeliest, and enduring romance, between the guy from the goldfields of Chakari, and the oldest Zimbabwean newspaper, started.
It’s hard to believe now, more than a quarter-of-a-century later, that there was a time, during my days at the journalism school, when I would forgo lunch and just come into the city, take a seat at Africa Unity Square, and simply stare at this giant building called Herald House.
Alone, lost in my dreams, I would watch people come in and out of this huge building, believing they were all journalists, and telling myself, quietly, that one fine day I would love to be just like them.
Of course, I knew dreams could come true, even for someone from the backwaters like Chakari, far away from the madding crowds of this capital city, its serenity, the ultimate symbol of paradise, when compared to the madness of Harare.
A part of me would tell me this wasn’t what I was born for, this wasn’t my type of town, this wasn’t my type of life and this wasn’t my type of place where, if I got married and God blessed me with kids, I would like to raise my children.
There were days when I was so homesick I just wanted to run away from all of it, for a reunion with my folks back in Chakari, where the heart had remained, even when the body had relocated to Harare.
But, then, there was David Mwanza, our childhood football hero, whose skills had taken him from our little town to the big time of playing for Rio Tinto, under John Rugg, State House Tornados and, of course, the Warriors.
Everyone called him Chikwama and, a little voice would, now and again, tell me that if Chikwama could make it in the big city, why then was I being a coward, about to run away from a pursuit of my dream, to become a journalist?
Remarkably, tomorrow, I will mark 28 years at this newspaper and, during that period, it has become more than a home — a sanctuary which has helped me deal with all the challenges that have been thrown into my path during this amazing adventure.
NINETEEN NINETY TWO, SADIO MANE, MO SALAH, IT WAS JUST MEANT TO BE
Maybe, it was just meant to be — the year, the profession, the football love affair.
After all, I arrived here in the very year Neymar, Christian Eriksen, Mario Gotze and Philippe Coutinho were born. The same year Dani Carvajal, Eric Lamela, David Alaba, Alvaro Morat, Serge Aurier, Granit Xhaka, Ahmed Musa, Wilfried Zaha, Jesse Lingard, Allison Becker, Jack Wilshere and Christian Atsu were also born.
It was the same year Danish footballers were summoned, from their holiday beaches, to come to replace the then Yugoslavia at Euro ’92 and, against all the odds, they found a way to win a tournament they had failed to qualify for.
It was same year Mohamed Salah was born. But, if there is a footballer, whose story keeps providing me with a reminder that odds, in life, are meant to be defied, even for those who come from humble settings like Chakari, then it has to be Sadio Mane.
And, just like my journey at this newspaper, the Liverpool and Senegalese superstar is 28.
I’m not a Liverpool fan, never was and never will, but there are things which one has to accept, even if it means you embracing someone who is representative of the devil.
And, one of those things is that Mane is just an amazing football star, his pace is incredible, his movement off the ball is priceless, with the ball he paints a beautiful picture and he is a great goal-scorer and a scorer of great goals.
It’s hard to imagine that he now has everything he could ever dream of, properties around the world, the best cars money can buy and he has a net worth of about US$20 million.
He earns about US$31 813 a day and just about US$1 325 an hour which means that an average fellow, working in the United Kingdom, will need to work 24.8 years to get the same money which Mane gets in a month.
But, his life was never always this good.
After all, he was born in Sedhiou, a small Senegalese town.
It’s located in a region called Casamance, which the World Bank described as being ‘’among the poorest in Senegal, with poverty levels at least 20 percentage points higher than the national average.’’
Seven years ago, when the World Bank report was compiled, there were just about 24 213 residents in Sedhiou.
It’s here were Mane lived, in extreme poverty, until he left for the capital, Dakar, as a 15-year-old.
“I left my city to go to the capital with my uncle, and there were trials on,” Mane told Goal.com. “We went to them and there were lots of boys being tested and getting organised into teams.
“I went to try out, there was an older man that looked at me like I was in the wrong place.
“He asked me ‘are you here for the test?’ I said I was. He asked me, ‘with those boots? Look at them. How can you play in them?’ They were bad, really bad — torn and old. Then he said, ‘and with those shorts? You don’t even have proper football shorts?’
“I told him what I came with was the best I had, and I only wanted to play — to show myself. When I got on the pitch, you could see the surprise on his face.
“He came to me and said ‘I’m picking you straight away. You’ll play in my team.’ After those trials, I went to the academy. When I moved to Dakar, I went to live with a family that I didn’t even know.’’
And, for all its poverty, Mane also missed home.
“I missed my family so much, missed being with my mum and my sisters. But, to be a footballer is all I wanted and I knew these tough days were to help me achieve that.
“I knew the things that were hard were important for me to succeed. Now I am here, with no regrets, living my dream.
Please raise a toast to Mane, for what he has done and, if you want, you can also do the same for me, for my romance with The Herald.
It started off just as a dream, I used to read Parade Magazine, Rambo and Shambo in the limousine, hanging their pictures on my bedroom wall.
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bruno, Bruno, Bruno, Bruno, Bruno, Bruno!
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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”