Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

From Hwange to the fast lanes of Birmingham…. Nakamba’s story told through his father’s lenses

By Langton Nyakwenda

THERE is something special about the year 1994. 

After spending 27 years in prison, global icon Nelson Mandela finally became South Africa’s first black President, in one of the most famous African history accounts.

Antony Nakamba Jr (left) , Marvelous’ fiancee Chipo, his mother Charity and father Antony relax at the home that Marvelous bought for them in Bulawayo.
Antony Nakamba Jr (left) , Marvelous’ fiancee Chipo, his mother Charity and father Antony relax at the home that Marvelous bought for them in Bulawayo.

Songwriter, actor and rapper Justin Beiber was born in 1994. The Canadian has grown to become one of the most acclaimed international pop singers and is now worth over US$280 million.

Manchester City star winger Raheem Sterling was also born in 1994, the same year Hwange Football Club – then known as Wankie – reached their second Castle Cup final in three years.

That Wankie squad had a goalkeeper called Antony Nakamba, a Hwange Colliery plumber who stayed in a compound and is father to Zimbabwe’s hottest footballer at the moment – Marvelous Nakamba.

The 25-year-old Marvelous who signed a 12 million-pound deal with English Premier League side Aston Villa on August 1, was born in a place called Madumavisa Number Two, one of the popular compounds in the mining town of Hwange.

Nakamba, who shares the same birthday with multi-award winning country music star Dolly Parton, also experienced rural life in his early childhood as he was at one time transferred to Dinde, a place located 35km outside Hwange town.

But what was outstanding about this boy was his unique understanding of football.

“As early as when he was five years old, you could see that this boy was too much into football. He would follow all of Wankie’s home games and would also travel around in the company of his late grandfather, George.

“At one time, after watching a match between Wankie and Darryn T at the Colliery, Marvelous came back to the compound calling himself Bunjira.

“He had fallen in love with Darryn T striker Alois Bunjira’s silky skills. So, Bunjira became his childhood nickname,” revealed Antony Nakamba.

“The other time he called himself Fabrice Akwa after watching the former Angolan international in action against Zimbabwe.

“Marvelous would tell you the names of all the players that played for Wankie those days, he also knew players from other teams in Harare and Bulawayo.”

From life in a compound back in Hwange, the 49-year-old Antony and his wife Charity Ngwenya now stay in Bulawayo’s lush suburb of Sunninghill, courtesy of their son Marvelous, who is set to earn over US$60 000 per week at Aston Villa.

“It’s like a dream, we never thought we would ever enjoy a life like this. We thank God for giving us a son like Marvelous,” said Antony.

Marvelous Nakamba was raised as a Roman Catholic since his mother was a devout Catholic who rarely missed Mass.

“My boy did his Grade One and Two at Sir Humphrey Gibbs in Madumavisa. We then transferred him to the rural areas where he temporarily learnt at Dinde Primary School.

“It’s an area that is situated about 35km outside Hwange town, that’s my mother’s rural area. My late father George Siyame was from Zambia but my mother Enestina Tshuma is a Zimbabwean,” Antony said.

But how then did the surname Nakamba come about when his father was Siyame?

“The Siyames and the Nakambas are one, some of our relatives use the surname Siyame while we use Nakamba.’’

The Nakamba family moved from Hwange to Bulawayo when Marvelous was just eight.

“He attended Helemu Primary School and Njube High in Njube. That’s how he also ended up playing junior football for Njube Sundowns.

Marvelous only attained four O’ Level passes at school.

“He was an Under-13 player for Njube Sundowns before joining Highlanders’ Under-14 side. He played for a year at Bosso, where Methembe Ndlovu was the senior coach.

“When Methembe (Ndlovu) formed a grassroots football academy, he took Marvelous, Kuda Mahachi, Nqobizitha Masuku and others. This academy was a sister club to Bantu Rovers, that’s how my son ended up at Bantu Rovers.”

Marvelous is now one of the best paid footballers on the continent and follows in the footsteps of Bruce Grobbelaar, Peter Ndlovu and Benjani Mwaruwari – the elite class of Zimbabweans who have featured in the English Premiership.

Marvelous Nakamba at Aston Villa training
Marvelous Nakamba at Aston Villa training

Naturally, there was boundless joy within the Nakamba family when Marvelous signed for Villa.

“He called us and broke the good news at around 10pm. I remember we were all at home as a family and soon we broke into song and dance.

“It was celebration time until well after 1am,” said the footballer’s father.

Antony played the game in the early 1990s.

The Wankie side he was part of also had the likes of Luke Masomere, current club coach Nation Dube and Fabian Zulu.

“Yes, Marvelous is now earning huge but we expect him to remain the same Marvelous we have always known from the days he was still at Bantu Rovers.

“Marvelous is a very reserved boy. When he comes back for off season breaks, he rarely goes out, either he is indoors watching TV or we are seated at the gazebo discussing life and the future.

“The boy is like a young brother to me and we talk about everything. I advise him against hooking up with bad friends, we talk about investments and we talk about the need for him to be careful in life.

“Marvelous got engaged to a local lady some six months ago, we stay with her,” Antony said.

Aston Villa unveil Marvelous Nakamba, their 13th new signing. Photograph: Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images
Aston Villa unveil Marvelous Nakamba, their 13th new signing. Photograph: Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images

Marvelous could not make his debut for Aston Villa last night as he is yet to reach 100 percent match fitness levels. Villa was away at Tottenham Hotspurs.

“I am still trying to catch up on fitness levels. As you know, I only started training with the team last week,” Nakamba told The Sunday Mail Sport. However, he could make his EPL bow next Saturday when Villa host Bournemouth at Villa Park. The Sunday Mail