By Lot Chitakasha
“When you walk through a storm, Hold your head high, and do not be afraid of the dark….Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, …Walk on , With hope in your heart,
And You Will never Walk Alone”
No song is as closely linked to a football club as “You will never walk alone”, a song turned into a Liverpool Club anthem by Gary a Liverpool lad and the Pacemakers. Although Gary did not write the original song, he can be credited with introducing the song to the Liverpool Football Club hierarchy who were so impressed that they adopted it as their motivational song. It is a song of triumph over adversity. The song has also been adopted by Celtic FC and Borrussia Dortmund. However, for the emotional pull of this song, one need look no further than Anfield Road, the home of Liverpool FC.
There are many songs that have been recorded to laud the exploits of football clubs and their players in the world and Zimbabwe is not an exception. A number of artists have tried their hand , some with great success, others not so. Some of the songs are very emotional and because they are rather old , they create a lot of nostalgia since they capture the glory years of the team. These songs transport the listeners to those years when big stars used to ply their trade in our leagues.
Many artists have contributed to this genre in Zimbabwe. In my humble opinion, I think Mukoma Zexie Manatsa has done more to raise the bar in this regard. The man is one of the veterans of the Zimbabwe music scene and like most people in this beautiful nation, he loves his football.
He has shown this by producing a number of songs, most of them classics. These include Makepekepe Shaisa Mufaro, Highlanders Iwinile, Tamirira Dynamos and Zimbabwe Saints. These songs were hits when they were first produced and up to now they still appeal to the ear and the emotions. Listening to them brings the memories flooding back.
Zimbabwe Saints were a great football institution. They were a part of the football culture before and after independence. This great club now wallows in the unfashionable world of lower league football. It has been a spectacular fall from grace, a fall brought about by poor leadership and power hungry individuals. This calls for a separate article.
However, in 1988, Zimbabwe Saints played some of the best football ever seen in the Zimbabwe league. They went on an 23 match unbeaten run on their way to the league championship. They were unstoppable. This amazing season gave rise to Mukoma Zexie ‘s song “ Zimbabwe Saints” in which he lauds their playing style, their pass and move one touch football.
Mukoma Zexie says, “Vakomana vanotamba bhora sevanotamba tsoro…ukadyiwa ne Saints wadyiwa ne bobho.” Literally translated it means “These lads play football as if they are playing checkers..” The analogy is interesting, he could not have captured it any better.
The coaches Tendai Chieza and Roy Barreto insisted on the ball staying on the floor , players passed it around until they scored. It was tiki taka before Barcelona introduced us to this term. Yes Saints were ahead of their time and credit should go to the above mentioned coaches. This was football at its most breathtaking and Mukoma Zexie was also converted, that song expresses his gratitude to the team. Cry the beloved Saints, I hope they bounce back, they need new leaders to achieve that!
Mukoma Zexie also sang another classic, “ Makepekepe Shaisa Mufaro”, what a song. This song captures the Caps United heydays when they were the Cup kings. With Dynamos dominating the league, Caps United decided to focus on the cup games. They would lose an easy match in the league but come the next weekend, they will be on fire if it was a cup game.
Francis Nechironga, the bustling Caps United player of the early 80’s let me on the secret. Apparently, the officials at Caps United agreed with the players that they would share the winnings of any cup competition. For this reason, the players were motivated as compared to the league games when they were given a fixed amount. The club became cup game specialists, the Zifa Cup, they made it their own literally, Rothmans,Chibuku, Rosebowl cups, they collected them all. The song captures this very well…, what a song. I love it and I will never tire of listening to it.
The music legend did not end there, he also penned and sang another classic “Tamirira Dynamos Igowese…” this song does one thing for me, it reminds of the great players who have come and gone. I will always remember and cherish them. It is a great song, an important historical document.
Mukoma Zexie Manatsa saved his best for last. “Highlanders Iwinile..” is the mother of all football songs in my view. I love this song and even a diehard Dynamos supporter cannot help but dance to this song. This is a song which can make grown up men and women cry, it has that impact! It is a song which can win a club new converts.
Following hard on the legend’s heels is Mukoma Lovemore Majaivana whose song “ Tshilamoya” sends some shivers down my back. I really feel this song, it captures the heart and soul of the club. It is a song which brings Highlanders Football Club to the heart of the listener.
It is a song which will transport one to Barbourfields, Makokoba, Pumula, Nkulumane, to every suburb in the City Of Kings. It is a song which brings back good memories and also sad emotions about the great players we have lost..Titus Majola, Nhamo Shambira, Tymon Mabaleka and Willard Khumalo. During their heydays, they gave us joy!
The Real Sounds Of Africa also penned an interesting song.. “ Dynamos versus Tornadoes” . This song has a rhumba beat because the group had settled in Zimbabwe from the Democratic Republic Of Congo. It is a good song, more so because of the commentary of Charles Mabika which is embedded in it. I think it is an original commentary or if it is an imitation, then it is a very good one. Anyway, the point is that this song makes the reader live the match and enjoy, it is vividly narrated.
Chimurenga music guru, Thomas “ Muchadura” Mapfumo whose hard hitting political lyrics have forced him into exile decided to make his football contribution with the song “Shumba Dzenhabvu”. This was a song dedicated to the 1998 World Cup in France. Once more Charles Mabika, lends his voice to the commentary, that is the icing on the cake. Very enjoyable indeed!
I can also add Tanga Wekwa Sando who sang a dedication to the Zimbabwe National Team..” Vakomana Vekwedu”. The song captures the hey days of the Dream team under Fabisch, the period when we packed the National Sports Stadium to cheer them on. These were happy days, cherished memories.
Apart from the recorded songs, there are many songs that the supporters sing in the stands, these create the carnival atmosphere at all the stadiums scattered throughout the country. Music and Football mix well and I am sure the players enjoy the carnival atmosphere that is often created by the singing and dancing.
Indeed, Football is the national game in Zimbabwe, just as it is in most countries in Africa and the world over. Music is the soul of life and when music and football come together, the experience can be unforgettable. Dear reader, if you doubt this, listen to “Highlanders Iwinile”, if that does not persuade you, then nothing will.