Sharuko on Saturday
IT might have taken us about two decades, but like true Warriors, we never lost hope and bided our time knowing that one fine day we would inflict revenge and embarrass a football emperor just when he was pleading for a retirement package wrapped in both decency and glittering golden ribbons.
It could have taken us close to 20 years, but when we finally hit back, for the pain and embarrassment we have carried as a nation since the turn of the millennium, it triggered a tsunami that swept away a dinosaur which believed it was the be-all-and-end-all of our football jungles.
It might have taken us a generation, but when we finally fired back, after years of being taken as hopeless cowards of the county not brave enough to even frighten, let alone harm a church mouse, we chose the biggest stage to stage a brazen coup that toppled an empire built over a quarter-of-century.
It could have taken us what looked like an eternity, but when we finally fought back, and launched our spectacular counter-attack against a Goliath that had trampled upon our freedoms with sickening disdain, the ferocity of our punches were felt around the world and downed an Indomitable Lion they said would never fall.
And, that we chose the spiritual home of Africa — the very Ethiopian city where our political fathers first met on May 1963, to form the Organisation of African Union before returning on May 26, 2001 to establish the African Union — to deliver our knockout blow could not have more appropriate.
Some have said it’s the biggest knockout punch ever delivered on African soil since a resilient Muhammad Ali weathered a seven-round pounding from the beast that was George Foreman and then, in the eighth round, somehow found a way to send the then undefeated world champion crashing onto the canvas in the Rumble in the Jungle in Kinshasa in 1974.
Others have equated it to those two unforgettable days in African football when our continental representatives punched above their weight to shock the globe with Cameroon defeating defending World Champions Argentina at Italia ’90 and Senegal beating World and European champions France at the 2002 World Cup finals.
Either way, it felt very good.
And that Cyclone Ahmad, which developed as a mere tropical storm off the coast of Madagascar on the Indian Ocean before turning into a hurricane, after it gained a lot of strength in Harare after sucking in the boundless electric energy of Captain Fiasco en-route to causing extensive destruction in the boardrooms of African football power in Addis Ababa on Thursday, originated on our shores, made it even more satisfying.
The English say those who laugh last always laugh the longest.
And, finally, having the privilege to watch an emperor without the clothes that used to fool him he was the greatest thing ever to happen to African football, without the power he used to wield indiscriminately and the authority he used to abuse with reckless abandon to further his interests, without the aura of invincibility he used to cast over our continent, reduced to just an ordinary man, just like you and me, was a spectacle to behold.
It was easy, in his hour of a shattering defeat, to feel sorry for him — betrayed by those hangers-on who had transformed him into this monster who believed nothing could shake him, being consumed by that sinking feeling of failure he never believed would ever be part of his indomitable soul and being devoured by the emotions of an implosion he never imagined would be part of the story of a life he has led as the untouchable football emperor.
After all, he had somehow survived the earthquake that shattered the dynasty of Sepp Blatter and destroyed the public career of Michel Platini, even being promoted to the long-cherished role of being the acting boss of world football, a dream he had pursued with vigour since the first day he became the leader of the game in Africa, casting himself as the one island endowed with virtues of morality in an ocean corrupted by the vices of immorality.
Andrew Jennings, the investigative British journalist who has dedicated his life to bringing down FIFA’s web of corruption, and whose work formed the basis on which Blatter was dethroned, tried to shake Hayatou in November 2010 when, in a Panorama programme on BBC, he claimed the Cameroonian had taken bribes in the sale of television rights for the FIFA World Cup.
The Sunday Times of Britain also tried to shake him by publishing claims from a whistle-blower that he had, along with a fellow CAF executive member, accepted $1,5 million from Qatar to support the Gulf state in its successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
But Hayatou survived all those storms, one way or the other, while others around him were being swept away by the tide, and when he was the last man standing, promoted to be the FIFA acting president on October 8, 2015, in the wake of Blatter’s spectacular fall from grace, he really believed the coast had been cleared for him to live his dream.
Everything else, including his shameless treatment of us as second-class citizens in an African football family that was a new millennium football version of Animal Farm, where all Africans were equal, but some Africans were more equal than others, a sporting version of apartheid where the west of the continent represented purity and we represented garbage, didn’t matter now.
He was untouchable, the anointed one, and his hangers-on told us, repeatedly, touch not the anointed one.
That is, until, Cycle Ahmad struck on Thursday.
YOU DON’T MESS WITH US
AND GET AWAY WITH IT
There is something about us, as Zimbabweans, that is simply unique — the most educated people Africa has ever seen, and will ever see, the most resilient nation that the world has ever seen, or will ever see, a people who have lived under the yoke of sanctions, but refuse to fall, a nation that was driven to the gates of hell by the worst hyper-inflation to hit a country since Nazi Germany during World War II, but still found a way back to earth.
A nation whose last rites have been read, again and again, whose scripts of eulogies have been written, again and again, but stubbornly refuses to die with the scavengers, which have been circling above us hoping to feast on our carcass when we eventually go to the ground, when the breathing stops and their party begins, ending up as the ones who have lost their numbers as they succumb to death before us.
A country of about just 15 million people that can provide the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with a visiting research fellow (jet propulsion lab) in Arthur Mutambara, the world’s third largest mining company, Lonmin, with its chief executive in Ben Magara, Emirates with its black African captain of the double-decker Airbus A380, the biggest and most sophisticated passenger plane in service in the world today in Captain Matambanadzo Chakorera.
A small landlocked African nation on the southern tip of the world which is blessed by the Lord to ensure that, when those who created the game of cricket, the English, wanted a coach to help them end 18 years of the ultimate pain inflicted by their biggest rivals in the Ashes showdown, it had to be a Zimbabwean, Duncan Fletcher, who would engineer that triumph over Australia in September 2005.
Show me a smaller African nation that has given the world a number one in golf, with three Majors to his credit, a European Cup winner in football, a serial winner of the English league championship, a world number one diver, a leading world number one swimmer and a mobile telecommunications entrepreneur and has the best climate in the world you can play cricket in winter, then I will start a campaign for Hayatou to come back as CAF president.
And, when the Cameroonian strongman picked up a fight with us by taking away our rights to host the 2000 Nations Cup finals, by turning a blind eye at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in 1998, when Dynamos skipper Memory Mucherahowa was being butted into unconsciousness by that Ivorian mob so that he couldn’t play in his club’s biggest match; and by not being there for us, as the senior FIFA vice-president, when we were expelled from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers on flimsy grounds, he probably under-estimated our capacity to fight back.
He probably made the fatal mistake of looking at the size of the dog in the fight, as his measurement to bully us, rather than the size of the fight in the dog.
And, on Thursday, in Addis Ababa, we made Hayatou pay for the sins of his years of treating us as his slaves as that movement, which started here in Harare, swept him away in a blaze of humiliation from a position he believed was his for life, from a role he believed he was anointed to have, from a job he badly loved.
Every vote that helped sweep him away from the geography of African football, into its history books, had a tag which read “Made in Harare”, and every blow he suffered on Thursday afternoon was our little but decisive revenge for the suffering that Memory endured that day in Abidjan, for the way DeMbare were not given a playing field that wasn’t level in the biggest match of their history that afternoon in Cote dÍvoire, for the way Highlanders were conned by that Cameroonian club, Sable de Batie, who — using hook and crook — were allowed to overturn a 0-3 first leg deficit from Bulawayo in the Champions League in 2000.
For the way the Mighty Warriors were conned of a goal that could have changed their campaign last year, while Hayatou ignored it all, for Khama Billiat — who was robbed of his prize as the best footballer based in Africa because of Hayatou’s machinations, for CAPS United, whose dream he tried to destroy, using them as pawns in a chess battle, by bringing referees we know are embedded with TP Mazembe.
For not being there for us, when we were expelled from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, for the horror our brothers across the Limpopo suffered in Lubumbashi in 2013 which Hayatou ignored, for all the diabolical refereeing decisions that have gone against us and for always making us play away from home in the final decisive matches.
It might have taken us more than two decades but we are Warriors, we never forget those who mess up with us and, as Hayatou probably knows now, as he settles into a retirement where the skeletons in the CAF cupboard — which his iron grip on the game on the continent had helped conceal will start tumbling down one after the other — he made a fundamental error of judgment to believe we are pussycats.
A movement, which started in our capital, toppled his dynasty and let him now face the music as the band plays on.
HAYATOU’S HIDDEN HAND IN BRINGING MAZEMBE REFEREES TO HARARE
Of course, we expected that our exclusive article about CAF’s shadowy plot to influence the outcome of tomorrow’s Champions League showdown between CAPS United and TP Mazembe by, somehow against all reason, appointing a referee with a history of favouring the Congolese giants would not be universally accepted in a country where club football divides, rather than, unites us.
There are many in this country who will celebrate should CAPS United fail tomorrow, because it nurses their inflated egos or because the Green Machine represent such an enemy they cannot bear to see it succeed, on any front and — given a choice — Mazembe are a better devil to them.
It’s the way football is, and we aren’t alone in this because even in Dar-es-Salaam last weekend, the Simba SC supporters were supporting Zanaco in the Zambians’ Champions League tie against their rivals Young Africans and, to some Arsenal fans, Spurs represent evil while Liverpool and Manchester United fans will never, ever, find common ground.
But we are guided by national interests and, for us, what matters are not the petty inter-club rivalries but what enhances the profile of our country and that’s why we were hurt when Dynamos were robbed in Abidjan by Hayatou, we were horrified when Bosso were robbed in Cameroon by this man and his empire and why we had to expose the controversy related to how a referee, known for favouring Mazembe, can be appointed to handle tomorrow’s big game.
For all the shenanigans, we stand by our ambassadors and we say fear not Kepekepe because if you managed to stand the heat in Lubumbashi what can stop you from doing well at home and, after all, didn’t they say Hayatou can’t be defeated, but we downed him, didn’t they say Leicester City didn’t stand a chance in the Champions League but look where the Foxes are today.
There will always be a number of doubting Thomases in our world, it’s the way life is, and even the children of Israel doubted that Moses was taking them to the Promised Land as instructed by the Lord leading Pastor Charles Charamba to pen that classic song, about Moses and not their Moise as in Katumbi, which I will recreate today for my doubting Green Machine countrymen and women.
‘Lloyd, Lloyd, Lloyd weeee
Lloyd, Loyd, Lloyd weeee
Lloyd, Lloyd, Lloyd weeee
Tidzorere Egypt ku Highfield kwatakakurira
Zvakavatambudza vana veMakepekepe
Panhandare hombe vakatanga kuchema
Chiona Lloyd wazotiparira zvino
Tidzorere Egypt kwatakakurira
Sundowns mberi kwedu, Mazembe shure kwedu
Tidzorere Egypt kwawakatitora
Isusu zvaive nani dai watirega
Tichigara zvedu savaranda ku Egypt
Mumwe ne mumwe akatsutsumwa nazvo
Handizvo Lloyd zvawanga wavimbisa izvi
Isisu zvaive nanidai watirega
Tichigara zvedu savaranda ku Egypt
Mumwe ne mumwe akatsutsumwa nazvo
Ndodzoka Egypt uko kwandakabva
Ndozvipirawo zvangu kufira muuranda
Pane kufira pano panhandare iwe Lloyd
Zvakafanana izvi, inga zvakafana
Kurarama zvedu tirimuhunhapwa
Pane kuparara muhondo yenhabvu iyi
Tidzorere Egypt kwatakakurira
Lloyd akati kwavari, shiiii, nyararai zvenyu
Nyararai zvenyu vana veMakepekepe
Idzi mhandu dzeMazembe dzinokunetsai
Dzichaparara hamuchadzione rimwe zuva
Imi ndinoti kwamuri, shiiiii, vadikanwi hama
Nyararai zvenyu vana venyika yedu yeZimbabwe
Ndisu vaye vokudonhedza uye waizviti nyanzvi anonzi Hayatou
Mazembe mhandu dzenhabvu dzichaparara hamuchadzione rimwe zuva’
And, with that faith, the Warriors of Zimbabwe dethroned Hayatou and the Green Machine, just like the Israelites at the Red Sea, passed the Mazembe test and lived to fight another day in the CAF Champions League.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
Come on CAPS United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rooneyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy (pity he isn’t playing)
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