Mashinkila — Friends choose to celebrate

TRADITIONALLY, funerals are sad, solemn sights where the atmosphere is grim and friends and relatives’ eyes are filled with tears.

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Thandiwe Moyo

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Mashinkila — Friends choose to celebrate

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Willard Mashinkila Khumalo’s funeral however, was a different sight, where pain was mostly experienced in the hearts of people who outwardly chose to give the soccer great a memorable sendoff.

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Mashinkila-Khumalo died last Saturday at United Bulawayo Hospitals and was buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery on Thursday.

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Most speakers chose to not dwell too much on the loss, but instead celebrated the life of the football legend who will be remembered not only for his footballs skills, but also for his great sense of humour.

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Probably because he had been unwell for so long, his relatives and friends had come to accept the inevitable and were able to reenact Mashinkila-Khumalo’s life so well. There was so much laughter one would have been excused for thinking it was a party of some kind. It was their way of saying goodbye to Mawii ‘the comedian’.

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From the early stages in his football career, the former Highlanders and Warriors midfielder was not only the darling of football lovers in Bulawayo, as he also grabbed the hearts of those he came in contact with — even those in opposition camps.

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His funeral brought together people from all walks of life, from businesspeople, politicians to common people. They all came to mourn and celebrate the life of Mashinkila-Khumalo.

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Director of ceremonies, Ernest Maphepha Sibanda reminisced on the days they were young and played football in Mzilikazi, when he (Sibanda) still carried the name Mqwayi.

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Mashinkila-Khumalo’s close friends — Rahman Gumbo, Madinda Ndlovu, Sydney Zimunya, Douglas Mloyi and many more — spoke about how Mawii would pull tricks, threaten to beat up people and help out where he could without complaining.

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Bushwackers, they were called, said Sydney Zimunya.

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“We gave the older players problems. It was the three of us — myself, Mercedes Sibanda and Willard.All my friends are gone now,” Zimunya said.

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“It’s difficult to talk about him when Peter Nkomo is here,” said Madinda Ndlovu. “He knew him more than I did. I was young then. I would sleep at Nkomo’s house where I met Willard, he used to carry Peter’s bag.

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“I also need to correct something. This man [Sibanda] ran away from the team [Highlanders] and went to CAPS United. We had a big problem then because Mqwayi was good at passing and the only way to solve this was to bring in Nduna. He
\nwas raw and I remember we used to pick him up at Northlea High School,” he said.

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Ndlovu, nicknamed Khathazile for his exploits on the field, spent years in Germany at Emsdetten 05 with Khumalo where they formed a close bond.

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Khumalo joined the German club in 1989 and returned to Highlanders in 1999.

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Benedict Moyo described Mashinkila-Khumalo as volatile.

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“He was very volatile. We used to beat up people together. As you can see, I’m very quiet, but when it comes to the fist I can stand my ground. He loved teasing people and when they did the same he was quick to say ‘let’s beat them up’,” said Moyo.

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He said he had convinced Mashinkila-Khumalo out of retirement to join Ziscosteel where he would work and play the sport that he loved.

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“At Ziscosteel, he did not last long because he later joined Lancashire Steel. When I convinced him to come out of retirement, he was doing nothing and spent his time at home. I was with my late brother Benjamin and your coach Bongani Mafu,” he said.

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Sibanda also took the opportunity to introduce the late Reinhard Fabisch’s Dream Team, which he said played well but “they gave us high hopes and then disappointed us.”

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Sibanda said: “There was Misheck Chidzambwa who was rough. He would tell Willard ‘unoda kutikuvadzisa’ [you want to put us in danger] after having dribbled past a number of defenders. Moses Chunga says he is the greatest, but that is what he says. We all know I was the greatest. Then there was Carlos Max, Albert Dalala Mabika who played for a team I liked but I will not mention. Twine Phiri knows what we used to say. Those who know are aware of what I am talking about,” he said.

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Douglas Mloyi, who is also known at times as a joker, said while Sibanda thought he was a heavyweight in football, “he was a lightweight. We had different kinds of people. We had the likes of Willard who liked to joke and Cosmas Zulu who talked too much. Where Willard was, we would laugh all the time. Forgive us here because the way the service is being handled just shows the type of person he was.”

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Mloyi said when he started at Highlanders he was the youngest player, but in the end he was the oldest player.

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“They never had any respect these men. They called me by my first name then and even now. They called me Sano then because I was the only one who could have children and they couldn’t. We should not nbe heartbroken but celebrate his life,” he said.

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Mloyi reminisced on the time they were in camp.

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“I remember those boys loved their green leaf and after having it they would cook. When they dished out the food they
\nwould give themselves a mountain of pap and then you would hear them saying they would eat the rest after midnight.

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I remember one time I threatened to beat Willard up. Sydney and Rambo [Mercedes Sibanda] also planned to beat me up. Lawrence [Phiri] was the manager then.

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“I remember I went to the toilet to relieve myself and while I was there I felt a huge hand on my shoulder and it was Rambo.I turned towards him and he told Willard to beat me up while he held me. When the manager came in they told him they were just playing with me, that they were not serious,” he said.

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“I knew Willard way before he played for Amahlolambida [Amahlolanyama],” joked Moses Chunga as he took the stage. “He was a jovial person. At camp we would give Ernest and company problems. He was a gentleman in losing or winning as he did not segregate anyone. He did not care whether you were from Highlanders or Dynamos. He loved people and it is evidenced by the size of the crowd here today,” he said.

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Although they were saddened by Mashinkila-Khumalo’s passing away, his former teammates, friends and family took the
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Although he suffered immense pain in his last days, Mashinkila-Khumalo always had a smile and a joke or two, most of them said. – Southern Eye

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