When you have a moment, reminisce about your journey thus far in this meandering rollercoaster or maze you call life.
There are some unearthed gems that have shaped the person you are today. Right? The people you once knew, the schools that educated you, the unfortunate tragedies that occurred and the formidable recoveries that that glorified your existence! I like the redeeming recoveries.
This exercise was first instituted during our English 275 class where I learned the basics of American English. Well hey, I still make typos and I apologize for the one you’ll focus on without focusing on the message. Oh my goodness! I still need many edits of my writing because we all need to slow down homie like old Kanye and Scarzz once said.
Anyway, I’m just saying learning the Queens English and was now being “forced” to regurgitate American English and it was a journey in itself. I still have the torn English handbook and hopefully I’ll hopefully edit this piece in time for you to really hear this message without the distraction of typos.
So Professor Wills tasked us to relive and dictate past experiences, good or bad, that made a lasting impact on our young, promising student lives. Dr. Lord Wills got his PhD in English from University of Florida so our paths unexpectedly and finally crossed at Bearcat University, in the Emerald City of Greenwood, SC. At the time it was boring homework, but only now I can conclude that it was one of the most rewarding exercises I appreciated about my college experience in America.
I advise you to look back at once in while.
You never really kno what you’ve really been through until you’re forced to tell your story.
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, blunt force experience. Long story short, after my “googling” I concluded mistaken identity caused me to be flown between United Kingdom and the United States in a 24 hour period. It was perhaps the most embarrassing moment of my life – mentally wounding me and I don’t know — I ain’t got the answers Sway how did I survive?
It caused a deplorable, self-diagnosed PTSD, stress, depression and paranoia–but looking back, without this baptism of an experience, I would not have become vigorous, resilient and the driven creative I’d like to believe I can become.
I’d never understood being “framed” until I was serving an 8 month guilty sentence at home nanaMomz naMdara paUK (Mom and Dad in the UK) being the innocent bystander I was at the time. I wrote about the inseparable guilt and shame I felt for an offence I had no idea I committed, being born like a Trey Noah said in his book. At the time, I realized the Sun rises everyday. Do you?
I was later freed and exonerated upon my reinstatement to continue my studies.
Saka Ndeip whatsup?
“You escaped exhile!” as my Zulu friend and fellow camp counselor, Thabo said, when I recounted my return from the charred remains of my experience – the story you’re all anticipating to hear in the podcast Scarzz and I finally created.
I was later inspired to graduate with honors and land my dream job straight out of college and take advantage of the OPT and H1B visa programs –all of which are under attack by the current Trump administration. As a benefactor of such a programs, I an ever grateful for the doors they’ve opened and experiences they’ve provided.
Can we talk about mapepa “papers” in one episode? We got you! We’ll ask Mhofu in Episode 2 or 3.
So I later became an auditor in various industries including the world’s largest food services company, was even relegated to being a door to door salesman but ndolife kana wapama1 (that’s life when you’re on the ropes). I later learned a list I appeared on which potentially 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 is ABSOLUTELY avoided.
When it was all said and done, my gratitude was solely to the folks who administered the Mufuka-Mashura 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 absorbing and crushing experience. Life, education, health and safety are elements us mortals take for granted – that is until I was surrounded by agents sending me across the ocean to face sins I don’t know I committed.
Tough sh*t right? I learned to appreciate the simplicity of it all. The air we breathe, the birds, the bees buzzing even the minuscule ant or insect minding its own business. Yo Nick!
Anyway, if had a book to write, I’d definitely call it Alien because ndiri muextraterrestial (I’m an alien like Zimbabwean artist Winky D) as well. I’d change it into a character who ends up seeking to find out who made the mistake until justice is restored, but lol it’s just a script not reality. I’d hope 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.
It really should have started ages ago. Are you still reading? Verenga! (Read!)
Once upon a time my so-called trail blazing exploits took me to the Avenue in Mabelreign, Harare, Zimbabwe. Mabelreign which was our middle class neighborhood for about five 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, new African money raising close-knit Conservative families. Kalife kemagolden years emuHarare (the golden years in the sunshine city of Harare).
My father planted his tribe there after transitioning industries and this is where an Original African adventure began for my brother RazzleDazzle and I. Read about him in 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 our Mabelreign district.
Alfred Beit primary school, Haig Park primary, Mabelreign Girls high, Ellis Robbins high (FUZH) are some of the schools in the area. Mashops were the local conurbation where Indian or Greek owned shops rested. If you’ve been to Mebhazz on the Harare-Ashdown-Park bound combi, mashops is where your journey to and from the city began. The British reference above some what croinges me today because of the colonial context rule but we can talk about that later, bru.
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, so streetwise you’d get finessed, Mabelreign natives were always conscious of their surroundings, hood folktales and even the local political discourse. We got hella legends. We lived off Dorchester Avenue in the Haig Park section where a dozen or so 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, though these days I realize it depends on who was reporting and responding to these situations. Warm and so safe — but due to the local neighborhood watch which rotated ever so often. The enemies I write about were just mere rivals in informal but super organized soccer games, coke soccer tournaments and basketball 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. Maita henyu (We are grateful).
My brother and I regularly recount the dramatic events that occurred kumaCourts as we called them. We had self-proclaimed legends vying for the provincial and national teams. We supposedly had one talented player called Leo on his way to the NBA. Looking back, our creativity for 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 the 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 were my knockoff AND1 or Air Jordans from Union Avenue flea market of course.
Our charred rims had no nets or chains. The grainy cracked 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 Black 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. All I know if God grants my wishes we’d have a Zimbabwe team in the African NBA but Hameno? (Who Knows?). What can I do? We need a meeting with the Raptors brother from another who showed us that it can be done. Special shoutout to the TORONTOOOOO Raptors yo!
So #hashtag #squadgoals is affectionately used on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook nowadays. My day one friends were and are from Mabelreign. 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 aigara padhuze nepaturnoff nekabike keyellow kaainyima. (Samantha was the fair-skinned girl who stayed next to the intersection and had that bike that she’d never let us ride.
We only saw when her driver dropped her off at home. The rumor was that her dad was a senior government official saka zvaityisa (it was scary). The luck of the draw for horny little African 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 freaking four-hour long 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 we really didn’t have a curfew. It’s crazy how that’s changed how I study other cultures across the world. In Harare at that time,we didn’t really have curfews. We were the lucky ones, but we’d be back before 5 though. It was just implied you’d be back to attend to your homework, so study if you’re reading this. Hmm one more commercial break for the lighties (vapfana or young ones):
Without the freedom Baba gave us 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 to be fair mate, but then again, we were just curious characters innocently enjoying our free time before the orange 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 or seed served as the football while you as the manager, used your index finger to project 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 Mabelreign life as a bridge. Teenager board meetings and sun bathing discussions talking about our dreams of meeting Peter Ndlovu, and who would get to kiss Samantha.
We held our afternoon board meetings pabridge 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 and not Chelsea. MaJob was kind enough to make us home-cooked sandwiches and will go down as a coke soccer legend and All Star!
Ronald, Timmy and Dhivha were the core and heartbeat of our street football team. Ronald was the first person I ever met in Mabelreign 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 the family name Wiliams –because it was incredible at the time but hella possible when you begin to break down Society, Music and Culture. As you can see, I’m passionate about those 3 subjects. Nonetheless, we later learned his true last name, Mhlanga and perhaps he was taught from an early age to never give up his identity to strangers. The spirit of the ancestors must have been guiding. What you know about that?
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-director-agent and the oldest one on the block. He went to Allan Wilson. His solid management and planning skills led us to beat the Zimbabwe Policemen’s kids in a heavily anticipated away fixture, I recount regularly. Gabriel who was our left back later played for the best Harare boys team, Prince Edward. I met Prince Charles a couple of years later and it is then I knew I could hang with Kings and Queens. We shook hands and I kept it moving. Many of you don’t realize Gabhu (nickname for Gabriel) first started playing on our squad, CYD before his glory days at Prince Edward. Chikweshe Young Dodas.
CYD was our street name, our gang where tryouts were hotly contested. We had a green and white kit which resembled the Caps United, a local Harare City team. While I’m still trying to figure out what my true team is, I’m drawn to Zimbabwe Saints fan, and you don’t want all the smoke bruh. I love society, history, music and culture connect to modern events. If I was a fan, I’d be a SAINTS fan from BULAWAYO. This is no coincidence so watch this space.
So I anchored the right wing, where I was the African Sean Wright Philips, while my brother was a left mid killing it like Ozil and tracking back like Kanté Lol. Perfect time for a commercial break and check this out:
Ronnie and Mabasa were defensive stalwarts while Trust was our prized midfielder. Our winnings were like $5 Zimbabwe dollars and we bought a dozen 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 past the greenway separating each street. 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 a grassroots soccer development fund in Zimbabwe. Pamwe iriko (Perhaps its there) and I need correcting. With that end, perhaps the Zimbabwe junior Warriors could’ve given me an U14 tryout, but I guess everything you learn in form two is not true.
Dai Mwari vakapindira (If only God could intercede) and allow our imagination to roam even beyond the football pitch. Please! So right now, I want to appreciate kayoung King kanonzi HolyTen (a young prince called Holy Ten) very much right now because ndanga ndaremerwa nemalack (I was burdened by a lack of opportunities) of opportunities. That was year 2000 zvinhu zvisati zvakwata kumaminda gore riye (the year before the thing things started boiling over on the land).
Maybe we just weren’t good enough, but maybe we would have won a city football 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 and frankly we need to start addressing the pain, abuse, suicide and suffering in our communities. End of. Gatimbobatanai mhani (Let’s band together|).
I later played football for a royal red boy’s school next to the Harare Presidential palace. Literally learning while walking past one of Africa’s prominent leaders at the time was so dope. We were in heart of the city and were at a center of excellence receiving a well-rounded Zimbabwean education. Shoutout to boyz dzeBanter nevanoBatana! Shoutout to the Bandof Brothers helping each other have a laugh!
Let me leave with this:
I cannot get over the fact that I missed a simple penalty against Ellis Robbins in 1999 while playing for Saints. Ellis Robbins is located in my beloved Mabelreign, Harare, Zimbabwe. Perhaps it’s good thing I missed that penalty. It would have been utterly treasonous had I scored. Maybe I did my neighborhood, my home, my conscience a favor? We’ll never know but here’s an assist:
Checkout his freestyle from @HolyTenMusic’s recent #NdaremerwaChallenge.
It’s FUSH TIME!
SonofGuruve ©️ 2016-20
SonofGuruve, is a Zimbabwean social commentator who is passionate about the intersection of Society, Music &Culture. On the side, he writes blogs and podcasts what Coming to America is like in real life. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or somewhere on WhatsApp evenings M-S.