By Mehluli Sibanda
In every transport pick-up point in Bulawayo, whether legal or illegal, there is someone or a group of people in charge.
One of the most lucrative pick up points is along Leopold Takawira Avenue and Fort Street, and the muscular Michael Alimu and his crew run the show. When transport to Harare from Renkini Long Distance Bus Terminus as well as First Avenue is no longer available, people on their way to the capital city or cities along the same route come to the spot that Alimu runs with his crew. They began by providing transport for people who were coming from Botswana vehicles like Granvias and Noahs ferrying passengers. Now buses and minibuses are the means of transport.
“Territories are there, we respect each other’s territories, the Chicken Inn Tredgold rank is ours. I control it with the boys that I work with. We work from 6pm to 12pm (midnight), on average we have three to four buses, people prefer to use buses now.
We have been doing this for more than eight years, it’s an improvement from small cars. It’s a win-win situation for Chicken Inn because they also get customers buying their food, it’s safe unlike First Avenue. We provide security for our customers and catch thieves once in a while. For now the last bus leaves at midnight but we are trying to introduce another bus which leaves at 2am,’’ said Alimu.
On whether they can fend for their families from that kind of work, Alimu said they are able to provide for those who depend on them. While they are their own bosses, all the bouncers are under Vacks Dube who for years has been the king of the streets in Bulawayo. On average each men takes home $20 while a token is paid to Dube at times.
“We are surviving on that, there is money for us to survive, we can pay rent on that money and feed our families. There is seven of us, we have respect for each other. I got the freedom, I enjoy my life, no one tells me what to do and I work at my own time. Vacks Dube is our leader, he gets a token of appreciation. We have a good relationship with the police because we are anti-crime, we just help people who need transport. It’s always a secret how much bouncers get. Even when I am not there my share is there. I am one of the highest earning bouncers in town,’’ said Alimu.
Before he became his own boss, Alimu worked at various night spots in Bulawayo but now gets hired on a part-time basis especially when there are shows. Born on 12 March 1986 in Gweru, Alimu went to St Paul’s Primary in Gweru then proceeded to Mtshabezi High School where he did Forms One to Four. The first born in a family of three boys, Alimu had always had a keen interest in bodybuilding from a young age, as he had his own backyard gym.
He took up serious bodybuilding in 2004 and this saw him being introduced to security and being a bouncer by well-known trainer in Bulawayo, Simon Gama as well as Tendai Chaipa, who was the owner of the now defunct Bodytech. He has been a bouncer at places such as Hustlers, the Casino situated at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair and Eden. Alimu quit providing nightclubs security in 2011 because to him it no longer pays to do such duties.
“I started bodybuilding in 2004. I was introduced to security and being a bouncer by Tendai Chaipa who was the owner of Bodytech and Simon Gama. I worked at several clubs, Hustlers, ZITF Casino, Eden, I also used to do big shows, moving around with celebrities and businesspeople as a bodyguard. I have stopped being a bouncer at nightclubs, there is no money now. These people don’t pay. I stopped in 2011, now I do part-time security for private shows. Now I do VIP security, but I never trained for this,’’ Alimu said.
As a bodybuilder, Alimu has contested in Mr Zimbabwe in 2012 where he came out fourth in the light heavyweight, was eliminated in the pre-judging for Mr Olympia Africa the same year, he finished second several times in Mr Matabeleland and Mr Bulawayo. He only enjoyed success as a junior since he clinched Mr Gweru Classic and Mr Matabeleland.
Besides bodybuilding, Alimu also plays rugby, a sport he was introduced to when he was at Mtshabezi. Despite the school not having any rugby, there were some of Alimu’s friends who played the sport. When he completed school, Alimu joined Gweru Sports Club where he played as a loose forward. He now turns out for Old Miltonians in Bulawayo where he can be deployed at either lock or tighthead prop. A hamstring injury ruled him out of selection for one of the Zimbabwe teams at the Kwese Sports Victoria Falls Sevens which started yesterday and concludes today.
Alimu tries to balance his bodybuilding and rugby fine tuning as he is at Body Works Gym from Monday to Friday, on the field on Tuesdays and Thursdays. His rugby training plays a huge part in his strength and conditioning for bodybuilding.
Just what kind diet does the yet to get married Alimu follow to keep his body in great condition for bodybuilding?
“Early morning I eat three raw egg whites, three bananas, mixed with yoghurt and milk, I blend them, that’s my breakfast. I also take oats and whey protein supplement, lunch I have sadza, beef and vegetables, mixed fruits and yoghurt. Supper I have chicken, rice and mixed veggies. Before I go to bed I eat three raw egg whites, three bananas mixed with yoghurt and milk. A packet of 2kg chicken lasts me two days,’’ said Alimu.
He believes that he still has three more years left in both bodybuilding and rugby. His aim before he calls it a day from both sports is to win Mr Zimbabwe and get selected for the national fifteens rugby team.
Alimu dispelled the notion that bouncers are violent people, pointing out that if someone is causing trouble in a night club, all they do is remove that person from the place. He also describes his time at Hustlers as the best ever since the owner of the now closed nightclub, Clarkson Kwangwari was an understanding person.
“Bouncers are not violent, we are security people, some people come to cause problems, we don’t beat up people, we just remove them. The best ever place I worked at was Hustlers, the owner, Clarkson Kwangwari, understood us when we had problems. As a bouncer, I have been involved in several fights but I never lost any of them,’’ Alimu said.
Raised in the Brethren-In-Christ Church, Alimu now worships at Wealthy World International run by Prophet Judge Dube which he goes to whenever he is free on Sundays. Alimu’s advice to aspiring bodybuilders is that they should train hard since being patient pays and they should stay away from steroids and all the dirty stuff. Sunday News