Welcoming Kirsty Coventry to the work before her

10 Sep, 2018 - 00:09 0 Views

The Herald

David Mungoshi Shelling the Nuts
In my view, Dusty King is another obvious choice for Heroes Acre, as is Tiger Shacky Mupoto, the skilled featherweight boxer from Murewa, who was in his day, the country’s only truly professional African boxer.

Too many people have suffered injustice at the hands of exploitative record companies like Gallo.

Notable among these is, of course, South Africa’s iconic Manhattan Brothers, who never got anything in terms of royalties from Gallo.

The prevalent practice was the payment of a once-off fee, usually one hundred pounds, regardless of just how successful a song was.

This same fate also befell people like August Musarurwa of “Skokiaan” fame, a man whose remains really ought to be re-buried at the Heroes Acre.

“Skokiaan” put Zimbabwe on the world map and even the likes of Louis Satchmo Armstrong and Hugh Masekela could not resist renditions of the song – an all-time favourite in jazz circles.

It would be nice if the estate of Musarurwa could, even now, receive that which was due to him.

If Musarurwa becomes a national question and is honoured as a national hero, Oliver Mtukudzi’s passionate question, “What is a hero?” will, in some way, have been answered.

The likes of our own Dorothy Masuka would be sitting pretty, just from the royalties, if the inequity were to be addressed.

She is the composer of many phenomenal songs like “Imali yami iphelel’eshabhini” with which she rocked the air waves for years.

Her song “Khawuleza” is an all-time favourite in South Africa because it graphically captured the people’s struggle to survive in the so-called African townships, where many women eked out some sort of sustenance from selling illegal brews and were, therefore, in constant danger of arrest.

Whenever there was a warning that the police were on the prowl, people had to hurry up and clear any evidence of wrong-doing and of course safeguard their wares if they could.

Masuka was also the composer of some of the songs done by Miriam Makeba.

In the beginning, Makeba sounded remarkably like Masuka.

In fact, Masuka herself says she was the original choice for Joyce, the shebeen queen in King Kong, but had to forgo the opportunity because she was pregnant and determined to have her baby.

Makeba then stepped in and the rest is history.

Lest people start thinking that national honours are only due to politicians and music people, I want to dispel that straight away.

A man called Freddy Gotora or “Dusty King”, as he was affectionately-known, was at one time described as the best Number 8 on the continent.

Gotora went to Chitsere Government School in Mbare, where his football prowess first showed.

That was also the place where something happened to make him lose half of his left arm.

I remember Dusty King doing something at Barbourfields that I have not seen anyone do since.

He went back to defend a corner. The ball landed at his feet and he slammed a grounder that rolled all the way across the pitch to the goal area of the rival team.

Not many of us knew the word “Wow” in those days, so I could only gape.

Someone among the spectators said, “That’s Dusty King.” Admiration was evident in that matter-of-fact utterance.

Street talk at the time linked Masuka romantically with Dusty King and when she did a song called “Sala lenhliziyo ebuhlungu” she was construed to be literally saying to Dusty King, “We bid you farewell and leave you to nurse your broken heart.”

After this song, Masuka left the country until after Independence. This is a story I would love to follow up with Auntie Dot Masuka one day.

In my view, Dusty King is another obvious choice for Heroes Acre, as is Tiger Shacky Mupoto, the skilled featherweight boxer from Murewa, who was in his day, the country’s only truly professional African boxer.

Mupoto had the distinction of fighting and winning against opponents from apartheid South Africa.

He was a tenacious little boxing maestro who sent his children to school through the matches he won in the ring.

I am convinced that quite a few among the country’s literary figures can also make it to the historic resting place in Harare.

Among our dearly departed brethren in the trade, I would readily cite the likes of Ndabezinhle Sigogo, Wilson Chivaura and Patrick Chakaipa.

These gentlemen are in many ways responsible for taking the first steps in creating what has become Zimbabwean Literature.

We also need to honour those to whom honour is due while they are still alive.

At some of the literary events that I have been to in Africa, writers from around the continent have asked me why I was not travelling on a diplomatic passport.

These remarks left me wondering. But now that Kirsty Leigh Coventry is the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, she can perhaps begin to apply her youthful vigour to some of the pressing issues I am raising.

To my knowledge, only TK Tsodzo has a diplomatic passport.

Incongruously, neither Oliver Mtukudzi nor Albert Nyathi also has one despite their commendable advocacy work on the world stage.

Something more could be done. It would be an instance of supreme irony if Kirsty herself still has to be honoured with a diplomatic passport after all the ambassadorial work she has done for Zimbabwe.

Not many people understand that when you travel outside the borders of your country, the manner in which you portray yourself becomes the mirror through which outsiders view your country.

Americans understand this more than anyone else because they know what their country’s Patriot Act can do to them.

Zimbabwe has no such punitive laws aimed at people who may hold views that are not in tandem with the official line.

This is why no one has ever been prosecuted for bad-mouthing the country in faraway capitals.

Kirsty did her talking in the pool, where she won many accolades for self and for the country and was to be seen on the podium raising Zimbabwe’s flag high.

She is, therefore, no mean achiever! Her life and her achievements are eloquent testimonies of what she is capable of.

To be fair to all and sundry, there has always been an answer to the question posed by Mtukudzi about who becomes a national hero.

A precedent was set with Jairos Jiri, the philanthropist from Bikita. He was declared a national hero and should have been interred at the national shrine in Harare had his family not requested that that honour be deferred in preference for a final resting place in his beloved Bikita.

Jairos Jiri was not a politician. Outside his philanthropic calling, his other major interest was boxing.

Many a time he came to see my father at our Mzilikazi residence in Bulawayo where he, together with social worker Remus Machokoto, “Magodo”, AKA Rekayi Tangwena, and several others discussed boxing matters.

Luke Mungoshi, my father, was chairman of the Matabeleland African Amateur Boxing Association for many years.

When Rekayi Tangwena left Bulawayo to assume the chieftainship of his people and embark upon their epic struggle against the alienation of their land, he came to say farewell to my father.

Unfortunately, I was not there to witness the occasion, having by then enrolled at a teachers’ college.

My father spoke about that moment with pride, just as he did when he recalled how Benjamin Burombo, the maverick early nationalist shaved at our house in preparation for meetings with leaders of significant social groupings like CC Ngcebetsha of the Matabeleland Home Society.

The boxing community of Bulawayo was thought to be important enough to warrant my father’s presence.

The meeting that Burombo was organising for later endorsed the National Democratic Party (NDP), the country’s first truly mass-based organisation.

He also told my father that Joshua Nkomo was the only person at the time with sufficient national appeal to lead a mass-based organisation inclusive of all ethnic groups in the country.

Times have moved on and the Second Republic is here for all of us. Matters of race or place of origin should no longer be a part of the future that is within our reach.

We need to forge ahead without encumbrance from obsolete baggage. The country’s time is now. We are well advised to listen to Shakespeare’s Brutus when he says:

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”

Kirsty “MaNgwenya” Coventry is a capable, talented and patriotic young Zimbabwean. Her membership and work with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have more than prepared her for the tasks before her.

She brings new insights into her portfolio and can put paid to piracy, permanently. She is the right person at the right time: an example of how to excel in your field of excellence and beyond.

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