Nah. -Rosa Parks, 1955


Nah.

Nah2

Nah.

I’m appreciative Baba taught Razzle Dazzle and I to be proud of our identity.  He also taught us to pray and most importantly to fight for the good things we want and to fight for the good things we have. You want a career?  Work for it.  You have a good career? Keep it.

He also taught us about corporate prayer, so any time we are up against a fight as a family, we hold hands and pray for each other.  Corporate prayer is simple. It is united. It is bold and most of all, it is potent.  We’ve come up against many “fights”, but as you guessed it, our corporate prayer coffers settled several arrears before the collectors came.

It’s the very same Baba that handed over a book called “In Black and White: The Untold Story of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens”.

He handed it to me six months before I left my family home to go to the United States to study an Accounting and Finance degree.  I remember the corporate prayer that was rendered to the heavens and looking back, and now as an IT Audit professional, I wouldn’t have made it without them.  I remember soaring the skies from London Heathrow Airport holding a suitcase, a scholarship and a book in hand.  Coupled with my passion for sports and literature, I got to learn about what it was like to be black in the United States of America through the untold stories of Jesse Owens and Joe Louis. They lived extraordinary black lives.  The biography recounts their political legacy, friendship and how they amassed four Gold medals and a Heavy weight boxing Champion accolade.

JL

Through it all, the pair of black athletes were demeaned by racism and later to deplorable poverty.  I never read the book a second time because it brought me close to tears just thinking about their final years.  I however, urge you to purchase this good read it is a reminder of where Blacks have come from.  It’s amazing that by the time I was in my senior year I was witnessing the 2007 election of Barack Obama.  What a moment it was on that glorious evening before we left our dorms to celebrate in some South Carolina streets.  Imagine that just 53 years before me entering the Bearcat College Campus, I was not allowed by law primarily because of my blackness.

November 8, 2008, I bet that Barack wouldn’t win the Presidential Election because of the memories I remembered in the book I just touched upon.  Surely not today? Surely not this century? Oh!  I was wrong and because I lost my bet, I cut my head bald.  It was quite all right.  It was a shiny dome in honor of the agreement I made with my college buddy and now radio personality Miranda.  I’m not sure if she still remembers, but that’s okay.

Back to the book.

Apart from tracing their roots, in the Deep South and the Midwest, it’s extraordinary how Joe and Jesse overcame obstacles – particularly racism.  They were quintessential men of courage I hope to be known as one day.   They must have had millions of corporate prayers offered on their behalf because their stories have stood the test of time.  If there’s anything you should get from this post is do yourself a favor and purchase a copy.  I’ve even embedded a link here.  I’m not really paid to give away all the good stuff I learned in it.

Today is February 1, 2018 so I thought it prudent to introduce Black History Month to my special readers and followers.  It’s a very special month for me personally considering how far the moor has come in this country, transcended slavery and now  achieving so much beyond measure.  I refer to the moor after enjoying Shakespeare’s play; Othello, in Mrs. Munda’s English Literature class at the illustrious Dragon College. Baba worked hard to send me there 1999 – 2003.  Shoutout to class of 2004.

Blackness folks.

Blackness.

Their athletic, artistic and intellectual prowess should be respected.  I for one am honored to be part of the struggle, part of the larger tribe of African-American/ Blacks advancing technology, music, sports, politics, philanthropy, and literature among others.  At my local pub, I go as far as to be regarded as Prince of Zamunda.  Yes! The character from the 1988 movie Coming to America.  Ask about me. They will tell you.

While the culture of black people is unceremoniously appropriated, it’s a reflection of how marvelous we are as a people.  Everybody got that black friend right? Everybody had a bob Marley poster in college right? Everybody love them some Jays right?  Everybody likes fried chicken? Don’t tell me you don’t like the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, the Roots, The People Under the Stairs, Martin, Family Matters,  the Harlem Globetrotters, Do the Right Thing, ALI, Michael Blackson, Kevin Hart, Allen Iverson, Key and Peele.

Pick your own and this image might help:

This month I’m momentarily accepting the appropriation.  Everybody’s invited!  It’s Black History Month and we get to watch my current woman crush Wednesday goddess and Zimbabwean-American, Danai Gurira.  She’s featuring in the movie “Black Panther” as the character, Okoye.

What a perfect way to celebrate being African in America.  Let me tell you – No matter what the Rotten Tomato review says,  I will unequivocally rant and rave about this movie.  It’s been too long not to have a set filled with black stardom, and superheroes.  Can you imagine being a little black ten year old watching Black Panther?  I’m sure he will ooze with pride and his confidence boosted.  The kid in me certainly will.  I can’t wait and I think it’s the epitome of one of my favorite posts –  New Age Africa.

So as you read this young black king or queen I want you to honor Black History month. My message is be prideful in your blackness because you owe it to those that paved the way before you.  Reaffirm every day that you are a beautiful soul.  You are rich.  You are strong and you will overcome any obstacle that comes your way.  Do this every day. I’m sure for Joe Louis and Jesse Owens to reach as far as they did, they knew nothing could stop them. Nothing.

What will your Black History be or as Toussaint Romain, Esq told me on #MLKDay2018 at the The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts & Culture,

What will the credits of your movie say at the end? 

As you were,

Ladies and gentlemen.

This post is dedicated to my late grandmother Clara. I never got to meet her, but I can assure you I’m living on the interest of her corporate prayers. Her drum is still beating today.

SonofGuruve © 2018

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Diaspora Drums


LADs (Little African Drunmers).

LADs – Little Africans Drumming.

After concluding an early morning call with my longtime friend and Australia-based DJKix, I texted her and complained about the time-zone differences that the African Diaspora has created.  6am versus 9pm just to catch up for a bi-weekly dose of new African music? Goodness me, nonetheless, you’ll be able to revise my post New Age Africa where I dive into this newborn school of African thought I’d like to believe I sell every time I walk in a room.  Here’s an excerpt:

“In Western media, Africa is too often represented as a violent, destitute hellhole in desperate need of Irish rock stars, American film actresses, and Norwegian NGOs just to remain upright. But the continent is undergoing a renaissance. It’s programming software, making movies, designing clothing, and creating music that is equal to that produced anywhere in the world and frequently exceeds it in quality and creativity”.

After my brief catchup with DJKix , I decided to listen to her November 24, 2017 installment and I realized why we are good friends and have remained so over the years.  We have similar tastes in music from the continent.  I listened and she introduced me to Niniola and specifically the song “Sicker”:

The feeling when I listen to new music from Africa is a sensation that debt can’t overcome and money can’t purchase.  It’s a feeling that us African Diasporans need to experience often – without drugs or alcohol.  Being far from the continent, you have to construct your own unbreakable framework to remain sane.  It comes in different forms – art, music, literature, dance, YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud and even WhatsApp groups filled with dialogues beaming with African content, jokes, noble advice and music.

Simply, this media draws us one inch closer to the mainland of our beloved Mabelreign, Harare, Zimbabwe, Africa.

It’s almost been three years living in the Queen City and I’ve had the pleasure of supporting and attending two prominent, pulsating afro-infused events in Charlotte’s urban scene.

I get to fulfil a desire to be home away from home – the African Diaspora.  My musical roots are unearthed and it’s a pleasure being in an environment where like-minded tribesmen can congregate share jokes, trade and most importantly, listen and dance to music.  I’ve been able to bring some of my comrades from foreign distant tribes to both events including Puerto Rico, Colombia, Brazil,Denmark, Nepal, and Mexico to name a few.

One Wednesday morning I read an article in a local arts and entertainment publication that I thoroughly enjoyed, but I had to offer a different perspective.

It’s not to attack the sentiments offered as many hoped for, but to provide some clarity.  The writer featured a prominent artistic Presario who has led the local afro music scene in the Queen City.  It was well-written and I hope one day to be able to collect my thoughts as eloquently as it was assembled.

Much respect to the folks that have paved the way for Black Consciousness as Jasisatic has. I hope to meet and embrace her one day.  She’s the fierce benefactor of Su Cassa where my fondness as only grown stronger over the last two years.

So where was I?

Oh, so the African Diaspora in the United Kingdom is affiliated with grime, drum and base, Afro infused sounds and reverberating beating drums.  Its music culture is much richer than I’m yet to experience in the United States.  Generations of immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean rooted themselves over the last several decades and a perfect example of this offspring is my favorite artist right now –  J HUS.

He’s the fusion of the concrete Stratford, London streets, a Gambian single mother and pirate radio stations that invaded the British capital in the 90s.  If you really want to know more about this fusion, watch this documentary called LDN and thank me later:

When I wrote New Age Africa, J HUS was one of the musical phenomenons I was referring to. Other artists bred from the same basket are Dizzee Rascal, Tinie Tempah and Stormzy of course.  These are four of some of the most electric musical acts in Europe and they are African. It’s very important to recognize this whatever your musical taste is.  If you ever traveled to London 🇬🇧 with me, you’ll know what I mean – ya get me?!

The culture is rich like the sugarcane of Triangle, Zimbabwe and probably why I like Su Cassa.  It’s got the same vibe.

The author of the Queen City publication mentioned that Afro Pop was generally a descendant of Su Cassa, and that’s where I politely opposed.  Afro Pop, led by my friend and fellow African warrior Ifeanyi Ibeto, is a unique, independent and completely different musical offering.  Instead of being a descendant or following the footsteps Su Cassa, I’d say Afro Pop is the cousin from the same root.  We’re all family, so I’m going to both homesteads for Thanksgiving.  I will slaughter a cow and goat for both family members.  I think it’s equally important to know the difference.

When far from home, you need to find a home.  Afro Pop does that for me as does DJKix’s Afro Turn Up set which inspired me to write this post.  Afro Pop makes me feel like I am in Zimbabwe, while Su Cassa makes me feel like I am in the London house scene with my Dad playing his Fela Kuti – the Father of Afrobeat and my cousin Rhodhizha playing his Chronixxx.  There’s  nothing wrong with that.

I’m glad I have both places to connect us in the African Diaspora – whatever that means to you. It’s one thing to live in Africa, experience the beauty, survive the gritty poverty, yet comforted by it’s rich people.  Some may be poor in the pocket, but rich in the soul.  My parents made it through similar and incredible, dark circumstances.  I never confuse their newfound comfort with where they came from.  They are trailblazers who were born in Rhodesia, but when they visit, they visit Zimbabwe – The House of Stone. They overcame white minority rule and participated in Zimbabwe’s rebirth until she turned twenty five years old.

It’s also very different to live in the first world – also with similar struggle.  The Civil rights era has its similarities to white minority rule, but the differences are some I can convey if we shared a hazelnut coffee brew.  That’s a whole other post.   I’m reading Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime” right now and Apartheid as he says is all of those put together with ecstasy.  Simply, he was born a crime so put that into perspective, when you see how far he has come.  He’s actually Charlotte so someone, please buy me a ticket!  It’s been sold out and I need him to sign my prized copy of his book.  He’ll be performing at the BELK THEATER at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

Anyway, after one dance too many at Afro Pop I thought I was in Lagos, Nigeria during one of DJKato’s mesmerizing sets, only to wake up from the slumber and venture into the meandering Charlotte’s streets and be reminded of my status as a black African foreigner who some still call a booty scratcher, but I have to correct you – we’re also scratching gold, platinum and and other precious minerals from our African Soil. (Read my first ever blogpost about the son, the soil and the Sun.

DJ Kato provides that temporary escape and that’s Afro Pop in a nutshell. He plays some of the most pulsating Afrobeat you will only find on Youtube, Soundcloud or an an African radio on station. Oh and so does DJKix.  Artists like Niniola, Kojo Funds,  DaVido, Mr Eazi, ExQ, Maleek Berry, Ayo Jay, Patoranking, Sarkodie,  Wizkid, Iyanya, YCee, WSTRN., Black Coffee, DJ Maphorisa, Jah Prayzah, Tiwa Savage, Takura and dozens more.

This post is just contributing some clarity regarding two of  favorite nights in the Queen City.  Join me at Su Cassa and Afro Pop once a month.  You’ll find me at BOTH.  My single HOPE is for this family of diaspora cousins, brothers, sisters and entrepreneurs continue to be plated, germinate, grow and create more branches.  It was a pleasure to write this, but I have to go. It’s Su Cassa tomorrow at Petra’s in Plaza Midwood.

SonofGuruve is a member of the Shona tribe from Zimbabwe, Africa. He likes to audit technology, cook his own meals, while listening to Afro Beat and writing blogposts every now and again.  He can be reached via the Contact Us page.

SonofGuruve © 2018

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Window of Opportunity


In my growing career, I often reflect on opportunities that were right at my doorstep, yet I didn’t capture them. The self-reflection used to be cause for discontent, but over the years, I’ve come to realize that hindsight is almost always 20/20. We would all agree that it’s difficult to predict the future.

Was it that position I didn’t apply for? Was it the email I didn’t respond to? Was it the networking opportunity I failed to take advantage of? Was it that project I didn’t volunteer for? Was it the review I didn’t complete? Was it that moment I didn’t speak up for myself?

These are all begging questions you may have asked in your career thus far. How our careers have progressed or regrettably regressed is likely associated with your response to one of the aforementioned questions. This is particularly when the window of opportunity presented itself. Windows of opportunity come and go. Some are open for ages, yet some only for a moment and sometimes we are unprepared to take advantage of them for the benefit of our careers. I decided to focus on this topic as I have been in this predicament more than most would admit. Here are two anecdotes.

As a youthful and enthusiastic business analyst, I attended an audit engagement in Atlanta, GA. On my return home, I had an hour or two to kill between my arrival at the dining lounge and connecting flight home. While waiting for a bite to eat, I struck a conversation with a gentleman from Sioux City, SD. We discussed a couple of soft topics including current affairs, my recent travel experiences and the recent Super Bowl between my cherished Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. The discussion meandered into our interests and critically our professions. I shared my appetite of the audit profession and low and behold, he was actually a recently promoted Audit Executive. While our general conversation made me comfortable, I paused when I learned about his extensive audit background and I was somewhat terrified. I froze. I felt inexperienced to add value to the exchange. Was it my lack of confidence in my young career at the time? I really don’t know. Overall, it was stimulating to absorb some of the intricacies of non-profit accounting and governmental audits he was involved in daily. He shared experiences from the major non-profit organization he worked for in the humanitarian aid sector. I couldn’t even share my interest in the non-profit world at the time given my father’s background in the same arena. Long story short, he finished his dinner, bid me farewell and offered genuine best wishes for my career. This was all without me asking for a business card, an email or telephone number. It’s only when I realized this oversight that the window of opportunity expired and likely to never be opened again. Just like that – window of opportunity closed.

While serving as the Social Media chair for my local chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) my role was solely to manage our organization’s online presence and growing our social media footprint. Annually, the institute hosted an all-expenses-paid conference for two leadership members from the various chapters across the United States and the Americas. My role as the Social Media chair was to keep the membership abreast of upcoming events, post pictures, updates and publicize notable awards we were nominated for at the conference. In preparation for this responsibility, I learned that our vice president would be unable to attend due to family commitments. I immediately told our president that should this vacancy be open, I was willing to represent our chapter at the annual conference. We had two other senior officers and seven board members so consequently, the chances were slim, and specifically 10%. I had a one in ten chance of being able to attend. After two of the longest and exhilarating days in the office, I got the email and just as you guessed it, I was tenth in line and eligible to attend. This was based on nine declined or ignored invitations. Nine. As the story goes, I got to spend three days at one of the world’s largest resorts in Orlando, FL learning from the brightest audit minds in the US and the Americas. It was awe-inspiring and humbling to network with some of the most gifted and talented educators, leaders and mentors in my profession – some of which I am still in touch with today. Just like that – window of opportunity opened.

The difference between the two encounters I shared above is simple. Two windows of opportunity were offered – one was capitalized upon and one wasn’t. In my encounter with the audit executive, I had a 100% chance of making the most of the opportunity to network, while on the other hand, I had a 10% chance of going to the IIA conference. We all have similar encounters or opportunities. Don’t we? Without going into the psychology of it all,

I’d conclude it’s to do with the battle within. Windows of opportunity come and go, so make every effort to pounce on them no matter the probability. You just never know where it will lead. Take the leap and take the measured approach towards each opportunity because you owe it to yourself. You’ve worked hard enough to be where you are and as I was once taught, fortune favors the bold.

Next time, take a deep breath, seize and open the window of opportunity before you.

Sonofguruve is a member of the the Institute on Internal Auditors (IIA). He likes to audit, watch soccer and write blogposts every now and again. He can be reached at adza@sonofguruve.com.

Mbuya Chando


Because of little  sleep during the course of the night, Mbuya Chando woke up well before sunrise. She was careful not to disturb her grandson who was still fast asleep. She eased herself out of the blankets and stretched out her arms slowly. She put on a jersey that she had bought from the general dealer situated at Guruve Growth Point. This was after she had sold a bag of maize at the Grain Marketing Board. She slowly opened the door, stepped out and closed it behind her, and briskly walked to the kitchen. Usually, she would have started the day with a prayer in the bedroom, but on this day she did not want to disturb her grandson. When she opened her kitchen door, she did not waste any more time, she gracefully knelt on the dried reed mat nearest to her and prayed to her God. It was her usual prayer that she made right at the beginning of each and everyday when she was at home.

After concluding her prayer, she went outside and collected some dry grass, twigs and firewood. She made her fire. Before her husband died, one of the most thoughtful things that he had done was to dig a well a few metres from their homestead. Although during severe droughts the water in the well would be reduced in amount, the well never really dried up. Mbuya Chando was eternally grateful to her late husband for taking away the burden of fetching water from M’pinge River, which was more than a kilometre away, or from Chiri Chiri Stream where the water was muddy. When the bigger logs were burning, Mbuya Chando drew some water from the well and poured it into a big tin container. She transferred some of the water into a medium sized bucket that was now pitch black from the heat and smoke emanating from the fire. She then placed the bucket on the fireplace.

While the water was warming up, Mbuya Chando mixed some mealie-meal and water in one of her pots. She placed the pot next to the boiling container on the fireplace. She continuously stirred the pot using a wooden spoon so that the thick paste at the bottom of the floor did not burn into tasteless porridge. The porridge was ready for eating after about ten minutes. She did not have any sugar to sweeten it. Sugar was too expensive for her at this point in time. She would buy the sugar, if someone came to buy the green vegetables in her little garden. She had dropped a little salt into the porridge to improve its taste. She waited for Tonderai to wake up.

It was during this time that she started thinking about the dream that had unceremoniously cut her sleeping hours. She was not the dreaming type –  those people who dream something every night that they sleep? She was not overly superstitious either. She was, however, aware that strange “things” did happen in her neighbourhood, from time to time, but she had not exerted her energies on things that she did not fully understand. She preferred to keep her distance, if she could. It might have been fear or simply lack of interest, or both. The black bird’s aggression in particular created a lot of discomfort in her mind. In many ways, she was very happy that Tonderai had not been killed in her dream. That would have been a very bad omen. She could not think of a world without Tonderai. At least, not her world. She mixed hot and cold water and went to the bathing shelter to have her usual morning bath. She was quick. She did not believe in wasting time with water.

After her bath Mbuya Chando decided to go and wake Tonderai up. He had had enough sleep she reckoned.

“Wake up, Tonderai, the sun is already up. I told you that we needed to go out to the field early today. Muka!”(Wake up!)

Tonderai knew when his grandmother would  get angry and he did not want to test her patience. He quickly rose and collected the blankets and neatly rolled them in the corner. Though small in frame, he had been trained by his granny that each day, after waking up, he should ensure that the bedding was properly wrapped and placed in one corner of the bedroom. Mbuya Chando was back in the kitchen and mixed hot and cold water for her grandson to have his bath.

Tonderai did not like bathing at all. He did not find it necessary. If it was not for his grandmother, he would wash his body maybe once a week. Even though the water was warm, he still felt cold after washing his body so much that he always dressed himself in a hurry. Alternatively, on some occasions, he simply washed his face, hands and legs. He had to be careful these days because once his grandmother had noticed that he had not washed his full body and he was given lukewarm water to go and wash while she stood outside the bathing shelter.

On this day, Tonderai had his full body bath and was back in the kitchen for his breakfast. The porridge went down very well, although he wished that he had had tea and bread instead. Oh, how he loved tea, especially if there was a generous spread of jam or margarine. He could clearly remember the last time he had such a treat. It had been the previous Christmas when he and his granny  had a full loaf for themselves. A whole loaf!

Soon, they were on their way to the maize field. The field was some distance from their homestead, past Chiri Chiri Stream on your way to the main road that went past Chitunhu village. For lunch, they had mahewu, a beverage that was made from sadza left-overs. Mbuya Chando led the way as usual and Tonderai followed faithfully behind. The two had travelled this path on many occasions. Both new each and every corner of the footpath, all the way to their field. It was like their bare feet held regular conversations with the dust along this path. It would appear that the conversations were always agreeable, because not one of them had stumbled, travelling this route. It was when they had set off on their way to the fields that Mbuya Chando’s mind  deeply focused on the future. Christmas was round the corner and she had no idea how she was going to ensure that her grandson had a good celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. She had very little money kept  for a rainy day. More importantly, she did not have a clue about where she would get the money for Tonderai’s Grade One school fees early in the new year. Tonderai also needed school uniforms. She did not mind even getting a second-hand set of a  khaki short and a shirt. That would do. It would be better than his current best clothes that had yellow and bright red patches. She wished  she was able to do more, but as of now, she could not think of any source of help. New clothes or no new clothes, what she knew in her mind was that Tonderai had to go to school. She had heard that the new school headmaster at M’pinyuri School was not as strict as the last one. The new one allowed parents to look for school fees for more than six months, if necessary. He was a local man who understood the tribulations that people like her had to face before coming up with school fees.

Although her late husband’s younger brother, Mharadzi did not live very far away, she was not comfortable about asking for help from him. This stemmed from her refusal  to  become his wife after her husband’s death, as was expected under customary practice. He drank too much beer and almost always beat up his wife for no apparent reason. The last time he had done so was because his wife had cooked sadza with vegetables only. Her crime was that she should have looked for a bit of beef to accompany the vegetables and the staple food. Where could the poor woman have found the beef? Besides, by the time her husband died, she was no longer interested in sex. She was doing it with her husband as a matter of duty. She had completely lost interest in the male species for that purpose. She, therefore, saw no reason for any man to take over her bedroom. When she recalled how uncle Mharadzi had reacted on being told that Mbuya Chando did not need a man to take over from his late brother, a naughty smile crept across her face. Because of an apparent lack of concentration, she almost stumbled as she negotiated a slight corner along the familiar footpath.

Mabelreign


When you have a moment, reminisce about your journey thus far in this maze you call life. There are some unearthed gems that have shaped the person you are today. The people you once knew, the schools that educated you, th tragedies that occurred and the formidable recoveries that ensued.

This exercise was first instituted in my educational journey during my tertiary English 275 class where I learned the basics of American English. We were tasked to relive and dictate past experiences, good or bad, that made a lasting impact on our young, promising lives.

Dr. Lord Wills got his PhD in English from University of Florida so our paths unexpectedly crossed at Bearcat University, in the Emerald City of Greenwood, SC.  At the time it was boring homework, but only now and ten years later, I can conclude that it was one of the most rewarding exercises I appreciated about my college experience in America.

I decided to write a riveting tale related to visa chronicles I experienced during the winter of 2007.   It was a retrospective account of what many would call a traumatic experience. Long story short, mistaken identity caused me to be flown between United Kingdom and the United States in a 24 hour period.  It was mentally wounding experience that caused a deplorable, self-diagnosed dose of PTSD and paranoia, but looking back, without this experience, I would not have become vigorous, resilient and driven individual I’d like to believe I’ve become.

I’d never understood mistaken identity until it was a guilty sentence for the innocent bystander I was.  I wrote about the shame I felt for an offence I had no idea I committed at the time, but was later freed and exonerated upon my reinstatement to continue my studies.

“You escaped exhile!” as my Zulu friend and fellow camp counselor, Thabo, when I recounted the story. I was later inspired to graduate with honors and become an auditor in the financial services industry.  I later learned a list called OFAC which in my case, contained an error resulting in mistaken identity. Perhaps that’s why, today as an auditor I make every effort to ensure mistaken identity doesn’t occur.

When it was all said and done, my gratitude was solely to the folks who administered the Mufuka scholarship at Bearcat University. They fought tooth and nail to get my visa reinstated after working with the Office of South Carolina Senator, Lindsey Graham and the Bureau of African Affairs in Washington DC.

To take nothing for granted was the major lesson after this twisted experience.  Life, education, health and safety are invaluable gifts we mortals often take for granted. I learned to appreciate the simplicity of the invaluable gifts we attain everyday.
I hope to pen a piece called “Alien” in the coming months to share and recount how this experience shaped me and how it might help your journey.

So as I digress a little, let me return to the whole point of this post.

Once upon a time my so-called trail blazing exploits took me to Dorchester Avenue in Mabelreign, Harare, Zimbabwe. Mabelrighn was our middle class neighborhood  for 5 years and one of the many reasons I am extremely proud of my Zimbabwean identity.   Mabelreign wasn’t the suburbs, and neither was it the high density urban area. It was a community of hardworking middle class  folks mostly self made and raising close-knit families. My father planted his tribe there after transitioning industries and this is where the adventure began for my brother RazzleDazzle and I. Read about him in my Little-Big-Brother post here.

Mabelreign or affectionately known as Mebhazz is in the northwest part of Harare, Zimbabwe.   Harare Drive and Sherwood Drive meandered through the middle-class, sweaty streets of Cotswold Hills, Sentosa, Ashdown Park, Haig Park which were all boroughs of the Mabelrighn district.

Alfred Beit primary school, Haig Park primary, Mabelreighn Girls high, Ellis Robbins high (Fush) are some of the schools in the area.  Ma’shops’ were the local conurbation where Indian or Greek owned shops rested.  If you’ve been to Mebhazz on a Harare-Ashdown-Park bound combi, mashops is where your journey to and from the city began.

Folks from this neighborhood were not flimsy but tough, streetwise characters constantly searching for their next opportunity in Harare, the sunshine city. Difficult to impress and extremely aware of their surroundings, Mabelreign natives were always conscious of their surroundings, neighborhood folktales and even the local political discourse.  We lived on Dorchester Avenue in the Haig Park sector where ten homes were planted on a humble street.

You had to be aware of the neighborhood politics, so consequently you had to know your constituents including your supporters, team members and enemies.

It was seldom violent and relatively safe due to the local neighborhood watch which rotated ever so often.  The enemies I write about were just mere rivals in informally organized soccer games, coke soccer tournaments and bastketball games at the community basketball courts. A piece of land was undeveloped for some time, so the city managers erected a basketball court to keep the local youth entertained and out of trouble.

My brother and I regularly recount the dramatic events that occurred ‘kumaCourts’ as we called them. We had self-proclaimed players vying for the provincial and national teams.  We supposedy had one talented player called Leo on his way to the “NBA”.  Looking back, our creative storytelling and recalling of neighborhood myths really had no limits. At least we believed in any athletic or artistic possibility.  While Leo never made it to the NBA,  Carlprit or “Rudy” as we called him back then later made it the European top charts sitting on a humble 5 million views on YouTube as of yesterday. Check out his song here:

In my post about my “Little-Big-Brother” you’ll notice I talk about being on a commercial.   I can reveal in this post that I was good at basketball and selected for this spot as Flavor Ravor because the Mebbaz basketball playground was where Allen Iverson, Vince Carter and Ray Allen were considered gods while god’s shoes had to be knockoff AND1 or Air Jordans of course.

Our charred rims had no nets or chains. The grim tar paved the court which was last painted the day the court was opened – ten years before. A faded half line court dissected the young and the old.  Senior League was a spectacle every evening when hardworking middle-class men returned from work in the heart of the city.  When my friends and I completed our curtain-raisers in the junior league we sat on some dusty earth to witness life changing dunks that Dikembe Mutombo himself could not block.

I wonder how the courts are today and if it continues to produce legends like we knew back then.

So hashtag #squadgoals is affectionately used on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook nowadays.  My day one friends were and are from Mabelreighn. We were all characters that had young adolescent adventures of climbing trees, hunting doves, and seeing who could land their first kiss from Samantha.  Samantha was the fair-skinned slim girl who we only saw when her driver dropped her off at home. The rumor was that her dad was a senior government official. The luck of the draw for horny little Africa adolescents was Sam. Samantha tested the intrigue of smitten little boys just roaming the African urban streets with hopes of catching a glimpse of the neighborhood’s princess.

So who were the characters?

Simba was the annoying little brother who rarely left his house probably due to parental control. His talent was drumming his tins and plastic containers for four hour sessions at a time. His estranged sister, Grace would come home for the Summer. I’d like to believe she liked SonofGuruve, but sadly the distance didn’t make the heart fonder as she was in boarding school in Bulawayo.  I bet Simba is a drummer now, for a band somewhere in the diaspora if not, at a Church in Harare picking up where my imagination left off.

Sarikosi University classes were held at number four.  Check out the Sarikosi Post here.  FatherofGuruve planted his tribe there. He allowed my brother and I to go on limited adventures because of our curfew. Without him we would live a simple, insulated lives without getting to experience the harsh realities Mabelreign could offer.

Looking back, I guess he understood that you couldn’t be part of a community without participating in it.  Our participation was more mischief rather than productive, but then again we were just curious characters innocently enjoying our free time before the sunset.

My man Mabasa lived in the house across from ours. “MaJob”, as we called him, was the creator and founder of the coke soccer tournaments I mentioned above.

What is coke soccer?

Take 11 bottle tops, furnish the inside with a uniform kit or pattern using the color of your choice. A ball bearing served as the football while you as the manger, used your index finger to traject the ball, carried inside the bottle top.  A flick of the ball would go back and forth, until a goal was scored on a chalk drawn soccer pitch.

The surface was the drainage ledge which was known in my whole Mabelreighn life as a “bridge”. Teenager board meetings and sun bathing discussions were held on the bridge except during the coke soccer tournaments. MaJob was a fan of Gianfrancco Zola, the Chelsea legend who later coached Watford when my favorite goal of all time was scored in a promotion playoff. It’s hilarious that when I see some footage of Zola, it’s MaJob who comes to mind.  MaJob was kind enough to make us home-cooked sandwiches and will go down as a coke soccer legend.

Ronald, Timmy and Dhivha where the core of our street football team. Ronald was the first person I ever met in Mabelreighn and I still chuckle to this very day when I realize he misled my family when we were strangers in the neighborhood.  Ronald Macheke decided his name was Ronald Williams. I’m sure my Dad wondered, how he’d got his family name Wiliams, because it was incredible.  Nonetheless, we later learned his true last name and perhaps he was taught from an early age to never give up his identity to strangers.  Timmy , Ronald’s older brother thought he was better than he actually was, but every football team needs that one character.  Tommy was always there when a fight erupted so he was always welcome.

Dhivha was our player manager and the oldest one on the block.  His management and planning skills led us to beat the Policemen’s kids in a heavily anticipated fixture, I recount regularly. Gabriel who was our left back later played for the best Harare boys team, Prince Edward.  Many of you don’t realize he first started playing on our squad, CYD before the glory days at Prince Edward. Chikweshe Young Dodas was our street name and tryouts were hotly contested. We had a green and white kit which resembled the Caps United, a local Harare Ciy team.  I anchored the right wing, while my brother was a left mid.  Ronnie and Mabasa were defensive stalwarts while Trust was our prized midfielder.

Our winnings were $6.80 Zimbabwe dollars and we bought frozen penny cools and a loaf of bread. In Mebbhaz those were eloquently known as “freezits” that we bought from the Mozambican-owned tuck shop.  Thomas, a Mozambican native used the bread knife to split the frozen bricks so the CYD squad could share.  Of all the soccer teams I’ve played for in Zimbabwe, England and the United States I can categorically state that CYD was my favorite.  We rarely lost because of our raw talent.  Who knew where we would’ve ended up if there was more grassroots development and funding  in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Warriors. Allow our imagination to roam.

Maybe we just weren’t good enough, but maybe we would have won a city tournament against the kids from other suburbs, counties or countries.  One thing for sure is Gabriel and Trust would have become professionals, but sadly it didn’t materialize.

There’s a lot more I could recite including the fact that our home ground was called Ebola, that we built a tree house and the trauma we experienced when Flynn passed away, but this is just a blogpost, right? Rest In Peace Flynn. We live for you. You are part of our journey

I later played football for a boys school in the heart of the city and cannot get over the fact that I missed a simple penalty against Ellis Robbins. Ellis Robbins is located in my beloved Mabelreighn, Harare Zimbabwe.  Perhaps it’s good thing I missed the penalty.  It would have treasonous had I scored. Maybe I did my neighborhood a favor?

We’ll never know.

SonofGuruve ©️

Mfana Richie


Richard bolted out of his mother’s house, almost as if someone was pursuing him for the purpose of terminating his life. He didn’t see the car that was coming from Machipisa Shopping Centre at high speed. That the car missed him by a few inches, was not because of the driver’s ability, but through sheer luck. The driver never stopped, he kept on going at high speed, turned left, near the graveyard and carried on in the direction of Lusaka section of Highfield. Richard on the other hand, simply slowed down, ignored all the warning shouts from pedestrians and dashed in the direction of the Shell fuel service station. There, his friends were waiting for him. Why did people worry about him being missed by a car? These things happened everyday in his neck of the hoods. He had been born and bred in Highfield. He had not come from the rural areas the day before. He liked to live on life’s knife-edge, in the fast lane. Amazingly, he was a Grade Four pupil at Chembira Primary school where he was beginning to show some promise at football and athletics, partly because he was bigger than most of his peers and partly because he was a genuinely talented athlete.

His mother was a single mother more out of choice than fate. She was a nurse by profession, drove a small car that was parked more times than it was driven, either because she was broke or there was no fuel on the market. Richard’s father was an unemployed good-for-nothing drunkard who had gone to the same school with Mai Richard, (Richard’s mother). Mai Richard’s name was Matilda Huni. His name was Nhamo. Ironically, Nhamo and Mai Richard had also attended Chembira Primary School many years back. Nhamo came from a well-to-do family, but his father had been at Gonakudzingwa political detention centre for more than ten years while Richard was growing up. Quite clearly the temporary absence of a father figure in the home had created a spoilt brat out of Nhamo resulting in four children being born out of wedlock with four different mothers before he was twenty!

Richard met his friends at the Shell garage and together they started walking towards the swimming pool situated along the Highfield-Glen Norah road. They spent the whole Saturday afternoon loitering around the swimming pool area, before they found their way to the Zimbabwe grounds where a number of amateur football games were being concluded. After separating from his friends, Richard briskly walked back to his mother’s house and found her sitting on the sofa drinking from a quart of castle beer.

“Hi mum, how was your day?”

She mumbled something about coming home tired from the hospital and that there had been too much work on that day and then shouted,

“Sisi, isirayi mwana chikafu pa-table” (Maid, please arrange some food on the table, for the child.)

The maid heard the instructions and responded by stating that she had already warmed up the food. Richard walked straight from his bedroom to the dining room and was served his dinner. Richard attacked it from all corners of the plate until the plate was clean.

From the dining room, Richard raided the kitchen refrigerator coming out with a full bottle of Fanta orange. He joined his mother in the lounge and sat on the carpeted floor to watch the latest episode of Mukadota that was showing on television. Richard sat quietly concentrating on the programme, once in a while, laughing with his mother, as Mukadota pulled out a few tricks in his usual comedian’s style. When one of the many commercials came on, Richard went to the loo hoping that he would come back before the TV programme had re-started. When Richard came back, into the lounge his mother had just finished the quart of beer and was almost dozing off on the sofa. He knew that it was not advisable to disturb his mother when she was having a nap, after drinking a bit of beer. Dinner had been nice. Some roasted pork and a little vegetables from their back garden. The pork was brown in colour and it had been marinated in herbs before being slowly roasted. Richard did not like eating vegetables and, as a result, he had got into a pact with the maid. She would not report to his mother the fact that he did not eat the vegetables. In return, he would give her part of his pocket money from time to time.

As he was going to school the following day, Richard went to sleep early. His bedroom was modest by urban standards. He had a double bed that he had inherited from his mother. It had seen better days, but was still in reasonable shape. He had four blankets, all of them still in very good shape. He even had bed sheets that were still new, having been recently purchased from the city centre. The headboard was brown in colour and it had been purchased in one of the furniture shops in town as well. It must have been Nyore-Nyore Furnitures,. What Richard did not like about his room was the fact that the sun never seemed to visit his side of the house. As a result, it tended to be very cold in winter. In one corner, was a small desk and chair that was purchased for him by his loving mother. She had envisaged a situation in which her lovely boy would be doing homework in his room as he progressed with his education. There was no built-in wardrobe in Richard’s bedroom, but that was not a problem because her mother had bought one from one of the second-hand shops at Machipisa Shopping Centre. It was also a bit worn out, but not yet near the end of its life. The wardrobe was divided into two. The left side was supposed to handle the jackets and/or trousers and shirts on hangers. The right hand side had six compartments. This is the area that Richard used. In fact, it was the maid who spent a long time trying to put some sanity in Richard’s wardrobe. Like most kids of his age, he was not particularly organised. It would have been too much to expect him to be.

As he lay on the bed, Richard started thinking about school the following day. He was not particularly excited by the learning part of school. His teacher was a middle-aged spinster and Richard thought that she was a sadist. She appeared to enjoy it a lot when Richard was not able to add up the numbers as quickly as the others, so Richard felt. He enjoyed the breaks when he could run around with his friends, share some sweets and cakes. What he looked forward to most of the time was the football practice. Here, he exerted himself mentally and physically with satisfactory results. As they were coming towards the end of the year, he knew that they would have a long holiday from school, the Christmas break, when he could play as much football as he wished with his friends.

Around 10.00 p.m., Mai Richard stirred and woke up, surprised that she had slept for so long. It had been a long day at the hospital. She never enjoyed working on successive weekends. This time around, she had only agreed to do this because her friend Jane had pleaded with her to cover her shift, as she needed to go and see her boyfriend in Gweru. As she lifted herself, she accidentally pushed the empty beer bottle to the floor spilling a little beer on her carpet. She was too tired to be bothered. She opened the kitchen door and went straight to the large fridge that stood by the window. She took out a jug full of cold water and took it to her bedroom. She knew that she would need the water at some point during the course of the night. This always happened to her each time she drank two or more pints of beer.

She thought that she would sleep immediately after putting on her night-gown. She was very tired. She switched on the twelve- inch television set that was about two metres away from her bed. As she lay on top of the bed, she suddenly started to think about Nhamo, the father of her child. She was not bitter about the fact that he refused to marry her. Actually, initially Nhamo had completely refused responsibility for the pregnancy although he was almost sure that he was the father-to-be. Matilda’s mind went back to the time when he had first met Nhamo. She recalled that he had been introduced to her by her friend Chipo, who was now late, at a party in one of the tall flats located in Glen Norah ‘A’. It seemed like yesterday. Nhamo then, was extremely handsome, with his dreadlocks. He appeared to attract a lot of the good-looking girls at the party. Matilda did not think that Nhamo would be interested in her until they bumped into each other at a Chicken Inn outlet in downtown Harare. Nhamo paid for her quarter chicken and chips and asked for her telephone number that she happily parted with, almost too eagerly. Weeks, if not months passed, no phone call came through at the student nurses hall of residence where she was training as a nurse. She recalled that she had almost lost any hope that Nhamo would call when one Saturday evening her friend Chipo came running upstairs to her room and excitedly announced:

“Sha, can you believe it, Nhamo is outside and is looking for you!! Hurry up, let us go down, otherwise the vultures might strike. Kurumidza!”(Hurry up!)

The vultures were a bunch of about five “fast” student nurses who were in the habit of taking other girls’ boyfriends at the earliest opportunity, if they were given a chance. Matilda was not too keen to run down immediately because she wanted to tidy up her hair and make herself presentable. The two girls agreed that Chipo would go down and advise Nhamo that Matilda would be coming down soon and continue to chat him up until Matilda was ready.

The plan worked out perfectly well. Matilda had not only combed her hair nicely, but she had also put on jean trousers that fitted into her body like a second skin. It was tight and provocative. She put on a white see-through blouse that amply exhibited the top part of her rounded body. As she walked out of the hostel, she did not see her friend until Chipo shouted from an Alfa Romeo that was parked further down from the hostel’s entrance.

Matilda gracefully glided towards the car and she joined Nhamo at the back where he was sitting. The car belonged to Nhamo’s cousin who was an Accountant and lived alone in a flat in town. They spoke for about thirty minutes after which they agreed to meet in town over the weekend. Thereafter, the relationship blossomed and the two had been inseparable, especially, when weekends beckoned.

Matilda had gone through memory lane on many occasions. She was happy that the bitterness had long left her. She had many memorable outings with Nhamo, which included many trips to Nyanga, Kariba and Great Zimbabwe ruins. This is the bit that she was prepared to remember.

Matilda yawned twice and within a few minutes got under her silky sheets and she fell asleep almost immediately.

Allan Manyika