Simply known as “TG,’’ Tinaye Garande was a larger-than-life character, domestic football’s version of the Notorious BIG, both in size and lyrical excellence, a gentle giant whose words, once out on paper, would soothe even the harshest of his critics.
Sharuko On Saturday
Of late, I have been having fascinating dreams, including some really scary nightmares, which have, sometimes, even jolted me out of my sleep.
Maybe, it comes with age.
The more you grow, or the more you age, the inevitability of your destiny with death, which is the ultimate gift to mortality, looms even larger.
And, in a way, it also becomes a regular theme, in your thoughts.
Death is a delicate subject, just like the end of the world, we all talk about it, we all even imagine it but we all never want to experience it.
We read the Bible, about how God destroyed the world with that Great Flood, and we all wish we were the lucky ones who survived the destruction.
We wish we were Noah and his wife, Emzara, their three sons, Shem, Ham and Japhet and their three wives.
Just eight people, the ones who were spared, from a global population of about 750 million, or about 10 billion, depending on who you believe, had the best estimates of the number of people, who lived back then.
That’s what we are as human beings, survival is everything that matters, anything else, really, doesn’t matter.
Last week, I wrote about a fallen legend of our profession, the late great Alan Hlatywayo, and received some touching responses from his family, dotted around the world.
“My name is Mai Chishaya, my maiden is Yvonne Hlatywayo, one of my siblings sent me the article that you did for my father Alan yesterday,’’ read a text I received, at the weekend, from a United Kingdom number.
“You will never know how much this has meant to us. Thank you so much for remembering him and for the article. God bless you.’’
Incredibly, the text came at a time when I was also praying, something which I do every day now, in the privacy of either my bedroom or office, asking for forgiveness, love and guidance, from the Lord.
And, even more importantly, for God to protect and guide my kids, for them to know the difference between wrong and right, for that’s all that matters, everything else is just a bonus.
Then, another text message, on the same subject, also flicked on my phone.
“Thanks for remembering my father, Alan Hlatywayo,’’ texted someone called Ursula Hlatywayo. “Indeed, he was my hero.’’
Thirty two years since they lost their amazing father, they still miss him, and curse life for taking him away from them, when they needed his guidance the most, as they navigated their way through life’s trials and tribulations.
To them, he remains the superman who shaped their lives, never to be forgotten, until they also join him in the other world.
These are the real people, the ones who will never betray his soul, the one who will never forget him, the ones who will always forgive him, for whatever human faults he had.
They are different from us, his colleagues in this profession, and this game, who quickly rushed to close his chapter, once he died, and we laid him to rest, at the relatively young age of 49.
That he blazed a trail, opening the path on which we tread today, creating the first bond of trust, between us and the constituency we serve today, appears irrelevant.
The minute he was gone, that was it, chapter closed, no need to evoke his proud memory, as the first black sports journalist, in this country, to be appointed full-time, to work for this newspaper.
That was in 1973 and, to a generation of the Warriors fans, it was the year football was born when their hero, Peter Ndlovu, came into the world, that same year, on February 25.
No need to evoke his proud memory, as the first black journalist, in this country, to be appointed Sports Editor, of a major local newspaper.
That was in 1985, when they handed him the responsibility, to run the sports section of this 130-year-old beast.
And, to a generation of the Warriors fans, it was also the year their favourite team came of age, when the Warriors shed their milk teeth, by winning the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, with a 2-0 win over Kenya, during the same year.
I was just a Form Two schoolboy, back then, trying to learn as much as I could, about myself and also this game that I had fallen in love with and, more than three decades later, I’m still learning.
And, more importantly, appreciating the efforts of those who cleared the path.
Guys like Alan, who faced so many hurdles, including working at a newspaper organisation whose base is just a stone’s throw from a street where, guys like him, and dogs, were not allowed.
THEY ARE WHAT MATTERS, TO ME, THESE HEROES OF OUR PROFESSION
These are the guys who really matter to me, they are my all-time heroes, and I would rather spend another weekend, celebrating their contribution to our profession, than taking about the European Super League.
Guys like Alan, guys like Ephraim Masiyiwa, guys like Tinaye Garande, guys like Assel Gwekwerere, guys like Sam Marisa, guys like Lovemore Musharavati, comrades-in-arms, who were there for this profession, and this beautiful game.
It’s a pity, they are all late but that doesn’t mean we should forget about them because, doing so would be a betrayal to their contribution to our profession, to their contribution in shaping our football and our footballers.
Musharavati was my homeboy, he grew up in Kadoma, covering football for the North Midlands Gazette, the local weekly paper we used to buy from a shop called Kidias, which was owned by an Indian businessman, who had a passion for football.
He even had his football club, which my late father used to play for, as a goalkeeper, before he was lured to keep goals for Falcon Gold, the bigger club, starting a lifelong romance between our family and Bwela Ufe.
A great fellow, Musharavati loved life, lived every day as if it was his last day on earth, worked hard to build his name, starting from the very bottom, covering Rio Tinto, Kadoma United, Seven Flames, Golden Valley, Patchway, Come Again.
They even had a chair for him at Cam and Motor Stadium where he would religiously sit, in line with the centre line, covering the game.
And, boy oh boy, he made a good job out of it.
That was a very good Rio Tinto side which, in 1983, ended the season with the same number of points as eventual champions Dynamos (36) but lost out on an inferior goal aggregate.
With time, he made it into the big league, joining The Sunday Mail, and becoming an even more influential voice on the domestic football scene.
There, he worked under Garande, the big man with a big touch, when it came to describing what was happening in the boardrooms, and on the fields, of our football.
Simply known as “TG,’’ he was a larger-than-life character, domestic football’s version of the Notorious BIG, both in size and lyrical excellence, a gentle giant whose words, once out on paper, would soothe even the harshest of his critics.
His style was unique, it rolled down his pen, with the ease of a master craftsman, and his weekly features, where he was the untouchable genius, were something that just about everyone, who loved football, would hardly wait to read, in The Sunday Mail.
He had this easy-going style, in speech just like in his written word and what a privilege it was, working with him, during the ’95 All-Africa Games, when The Herald and The Sunday Mail were converted into one sports section, to cover that extravaganza.
Little did we know, in a way, we were inspiring a generation, including Makomborero Mutimukulu, who calls himself “Gold,’’ the colour of the medal which our Young Warriors chased, and came just short of winning, at those Games in ’95.
“You see, being at The Sunday Mail was a case of a childhood dream coming true, come true at a very early age for that matter,’’ Mutimukulu wrote, in April, last year.
“Here is how the love story began, one day I read a story written by Tinaye Garande in the Sunday paper and told my now late mother that ‘ndoda kuti zita rangu ribude munewspaper sezvakaita rauyu anonzi Tinaye Garande.’
“My mum said, ‘heya mudhara, zvakanaka,’ I said, ‘hoo mhai mirai muwone,’ mum smiled and thank God, she saw it, and read my stories.
“At that age I didn’t appreciate writing skills, or whatever, I just saw the name that reminded me of a classmate of mine at ZRP Primary School, in the newspaper, and thought that there was nothing better than having people read what you write.
“My classmate was called Trust Garande.As time went on, I became a religious reader of what Tinaye Garande wrote, asking my mum the meaning of words like wizard and unstoppable.’’
Today, Mutimukulu stands proud, and tall, as a very influential voice in Zimbabwean football, a man who rose to lead the sports desk of The Sunday Mail before becoming head of content at the Zimpapers Television Network.
Of course, Garande is late, after he took his life, but his legacy cannot be allowed to be buried by his absence and it’s up to all of us, in this profession, to keep it alive.
THE NIGHTMARE I HAD, THE OTHER DAY, ABOUT THE LETTER MY FRIEND WROTE
So, the other day, I had this chilling nightmare and my schoolboy friend, had written a letter to this newspaper, describing someone, in the past.
I realised the words had been plucked from a number of songs, including “American Pie”, “Dancing Queen”, “Shooting Star,’’ and it read like this:
“A long, long time ago, I can still remember how writing used to make him smile and, I knew if he had a chance, his work would probably one day make a lot of people dance.
“And, maybe, those people would be happy, for as long as he lived, and as long as he kept writing but, now, every memory will always make me shiver, when I can’t see his name, in every newspaper they now deliver.
“I can’t remember if I cried, when I read about the loss of our boyhood guide but something touched me deep inside and I kept telling myself this was the day our music died.
“We still talk about his column, and how he had seemingly turned it into a book of love, where he preached his unwavering faith in the God above, and how the Bible always told him so.
“How he also believed in rock ‘n’ roll and he always told us that, if we also loved music, it could be the silent saviour of our troubled mortal soul.
“We always knew he was in love with football, from the very first day we saw him playing that plastic ball in the shopping mall, when we were looking for our Christmas shoes, and dancing to the sound of the rhythm and blues.
“He was a reserved chap, back then, deriving a lot of pleasure in the way his dogs would buck, especially on those weekends when his old man used to take him on a ride, on the back of his pick-up truck.
“Now, that he is gone, he has left us on our own, moss has been growing on the grounds we used to play, how we miss the days we used to run our relay, on that red soil we later learnt, was also called clay.
“And, he would dance to Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’, singing along the lyrics, about being young and sweet because, after all, he was still only just seventeen.
“Boy, oh boy, he always loved our company, and the group Bad Company and, like Johnny, he was just a schoolboy, when he heard his first Beatles song,
“Love me do,’ we think it was, from there it didn’t take him long, he even got himself a guitar, which he used to play every night, dreaming he was in a rock ’n roll outfit and everything was all right.
“We still remember the day he came and told us he was now going away, going to the big city where they live in the big time and to start a job writing about football’s big stars.
“And, then we started reading his articles, about a Flying Doctor, about Cam and Motor, about the Digital, about the spiritual, about the Green Machine, about a guy called Twine and a midfielder nicknamed the Dragline.
“About a flying winger called Madinda, about a royal team called Highlander, about an amazing defender called the Cool Ruler, about a unity player called Jack Roller.
“Our town’s streets are now quiet, sometimes not even a word is spoken, the church bells appear to have all been broken and the Three Men we admire the most, The Father, The Son and the Holy Ghost, it’s like they all caught the last train for the coast.
“And, everywhere we look, it’s no longer the same, nothing makes sense anymore because, for us, it’s like the day the music died.
“Now, all we do is sing, bye-bye our good man, this is from your friend Leeroy, your pal Freejoy and all the Chakariboys who have been drinking whiskey and Viceroy, and singing this was the day they also wished we could die.’’
Then I saw the name at the bottom of the letter, Solomon Banda, my childhood friend, and realised he was talking about me.
And, at that moment, it hit me, and I woke up from my nightmare but, certainly, proud if this is how my good old guys will remember me. That’s why I won’t allow this world to forget Alan, Tinaye Garande, Big Sam, Ephraim, Jabesi Lefani, you name them.
To God Be The Glory!
Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton, Daily Service and all the Chakariboys in the struggle.
Come on Warriors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!