Mabaleka – A true gentleman of the game
By Sakheleni Nxumalo
BULAWAYO – Some of Tymon Mabaleka’s former teammates could not help but express their disappointment that at the time of his death, he was not involved in football.
But after listening to the various testimonies on the kind of a person he was from various people whose lives he had impacted, it was clear that his personality did not fit anywhere in the tainted halls of local football.
Mabaleka’s former teammate at Highlanders and lifelong friend, Kainot Luphahla, described the late midfield general as a jovial character.
“Tymon was a very good friend of mine and our friendship began when he joined Highlanders in 1973 and together with Lawrence Phiri and Josiah Nxumalo we were inseparable,” Luphahla said.
“He was always full of laughter and recently we were talking on the phone and he joked that he was living in a big house in Harare and I should task my wife to get him a second wife.”
The Bosso veteran went on describe Mabaleka as the type of person who shied away from confrontation.
“Tymon was very talented and I remember how he would always give Zimbabwe Saints a hard time such that (Gibson) Homela would rough him up and threaten to beat him and he would not retaliate.
“He (Mabaleka) did not like fighting at all and the coaches would protect him by assigning the late Majuta Mpofu, who was also a boxer, to rein in Homela,” Luphahla added.
Former Highlanders chairman Earnest “Maphepha” Sibanda described the late Mabaleka as the most disciplined captain he had played under.
“Mabaleka taught us a lot when we joined Highlanders with the likes of Titus Majola, when the club joined the Rhodesia National Football League and as team captain he inspired us a lot.
“He is the person who taught us what it meant to put on that black and white jersey and play for Highlanders. That is why up to this day I still speak about the need for players to understand that Highlanders is a brand that must be represented with total commitment,” Sibanda said.
There are times when one cannot help but smirk in amusement as people lie through their teeth when giving a eulogy about someone who has passed on.
This is because it is considered taboo in our African culture to speak ill of the dead.
But in Mabaleka’s case, one could feel the genuine sadness at the loss of a man who went out of his way to assist his fellow human beings.
Former Highlanders and Warriors star winger Madinda Ndlovu, who travelled from his Botswana base to attend Mabaleka’s funeral, described how he had learnt how to drive after graduating to the first team due to the late midfield general’s generosity.
“I was the youngest in a team that had senior players who included Lawrence Phiri, Zenzo Dabengwa, Mark Watson and Douglas Mloyi. Mabaleka would grab all the car keys from all the players who had cars and hand them to me saying ‘we want you to clean all these cars and park them correctly,’” Ndlovu said.
Mloyi added that the late Mabaleka had secured a job for him at Gallo Records.
“I played with Tymon for more than 10 years and he was a good leader who was very sociable and led by example.
“It happened that he got me a job at Gallo and I worked there for some two years before I left,” Mloyi said.
Mabaleka is also a legend in music circles after producing hits for many of the country’s top musicians and artistes like Leonard Zhakata, Sotsha Moyo of the acappella group Black Umfolosi, and Obediah Mathulana. Daily News