By Ezra Tshisa Sibanda
It is quite baffling how the same people who claim that they are clean of any misdeeds show their true colours in their desperate bid to cover up on their blunders which follow them every day.
I fail to understand how Highlanders Football Club is now run. Maybe sometimes it’s just wise to let things be because the more attempts to fix things, the bigger the damage created. To hoodwink people into thinking that Highlanders selected representatives for Ernest “Maphepha” Sibanda’s funeral is to take the same people for granted. Quite interesting that unlike most such occasions, the club is represented by the senior board members, usually the patron, president or even the chairman.
It is also a norm that at such gatherings those who represent the institution officially do so dressed in Highlanders colours and correct me if I’m wrong, but there were no Bosso officials, both from the board nor executive dressed in what is now a tradition by club leadership at such gatherings.
This has been the case especially for numerous Bosso sons that have departed and so to state that the club sent representatives only suggests that their dress code changed at Maphepha’s burial ceremony. Why? If it may be asked. If the statement (published in a local daily last week) is sincere, then whoever selected those to represent the club perhaps forgot to remind them of the tradition over the years.
Is it just the team that wears the proud black and white uniform when they take to the pitch? Don’t our leaders wear theirs too at such occasions and if they do how come at Maphepha’s burial they chose not be identified with the club?
Did they not want to be identified with the team? Did they not want to be noticed? My suspicion is that those who hold office and were present at Maphepha’s burial did so out of their personal initiative and I have great respect for them in showing their solidarity with the family and a man who did so much for this great club. I do not believe that the club sent representatives that don’t show allegiance to the team by what they wear. It was a first and it would never go unnoticed.
One can only suspect it was an instruction that those who felt like attending need not wear the club blazers, for how else does one explain that all present, including the executive chairman wore nothing that identifies them with the club that Maphepha served so immaculately? That on its own is suspicious and invites more questions than answers.
Conspicuous by their absence was the board president Ndumiso Gumede together with board chairperson Luke Mnkandla.
Perhaps because of the absence of the two senior board members, the club then found a need to explain their apparent absence. You have to go back a long time to find a ceremony of this magnitude where both board chairman and president are coincidentally committed elsewhere at the same time.
As Bosso frantically claim that their attempts to contribute towards the burial expenses were repeatedly frustrated one wonders how so as other representatives of football teams delivered their contributions towards Maphepha’s burial without any problems.
A case in point is Bantu Rovers, Bulawayo City and Chicken Inn. Like is the norm at any funeral wake, the above teams never approached the bereaved to ask if they could render any assistance. They simply delivered what they wanted to help with and no one ever turned them away. It was unlike Highlanders who chose to ask if the family needed particular assistance, be it in cash or kind.
Correct me if you may, but that is uncultural to say can we donate this or that, especially to one of your own. What we know is that esintwini uyeza lolakho ubeke engcebethwini, you come and present whatever assistance you may render. Only in this case Highlanders, for reasons best known to themselves decided to inquire what the Sibanda family did not have.
Again the statement that highlanders chose to publish in the Chronicle doesn’t explain why they took this weird route. Instead they just explain what they intended to deliver. They dwell so much on unnamed characters who spread falsehoods about Highlanders, an accusation which should leave the Sibanda family baffled as to what that has to do with them and burial of their beloved father and son.
Those who organised Sibanda’s farewell ceremony always spoke on behalf of the family. They never spoke on behalf of Highlanders. The organisers hold no official position at Highlanders, they never speak for Highlanders hence the statement’s agenda to smear everybody except those that tormented Sibanda while he was still alive is futile.
What perhaps would have calmed a lot of emotions was an apology for various misdemeanours, among them a tweet by the board president to the effect that Sibanda had passed on yet his family was in prayers for his recovery. No mention or apology is made of such devastating posts but an aggressive statement is instead published to sanitise a bevy of transgressions that tormented the deceased up to his last day.
Lest we forget, the unfortunate statements and insults directed at Maphepha while he was battling illness by those who were in authority at the club left a lot to be desired.
Others called him a “man of no good standing” disqualified him to contest elections because they feared Maphepha would prevail by beating their preferred choice. If you research you will discover that the same people who denigrated Maphepha actually have their own transgressions, some even worse that what Maphepha was accused of having done.
Despite all this Maphepha loved Highlanders FC with all his heart till his last breath. He wanted the best for Bosso and wanted it to be successful. He had no problems with the club itself, only a few misguided elements who just hated him. Those who confided with him will testify to this.
No one can erase or take away what Maphepha achieved as a player, manager and chairman of this great club. History is there for anyone to read about this man’s success and it will be there forever. He holds a record as the most successful Bosso son ever who excelled in every position he held.
Rest in power Maphepha, you will always be loved by all genuine Bosso fans and real football people appreciate your contribution to the sport. You are an icon and your works continue to speak for yourself. Your will and desire prevailed and you shall never be forgotten. You may be gone, but your good deeds and service to Highlanders FC and football in general will never be forgotten. The Sunday News