A tribute to Nemapare, RFNL vice-president and Saints founder member

16 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
A tribute to Nemapare, RFNL vice-president and Saints founder member Peter Nemapare

Lovemore Dube ,[email protected]

I HATE to write about myself because I am not a newsmaker but I handle those that give media content for the community to consume.

On Wednesday I was among about 200 people who attended the burial of Peter Nemapare, a man of many energies and talents who had a positive impact on many people in life.

Ordinarily, I should not have been there because I hate hypocrisy. I failed to write about him while he was still alive, the nearest to doing so was in passing on how he diverted Chita Antonio and John Nyumbu from joining Highlanders in the mid-1970s and landed them at his beloved  Zimbabwe Saints at the 11th hour.

Yet there is so much about the man and his history.It was a painful experience for me as an individual with a passion for Zimbabwe sports history and legacy.

Just on 3 May this year I found myself on the way to Buhera’s Chawatama area to interview  Majuta Nevison Masunda. A cool 100-year-old dude who played for Zimbabwe Saints from 1944 to 1953.

In him, I saw a lot of untapped football history.I wanted someone to tell the nation about the picture of the game between the Second World War years, and how Saints and Highlanders could have been affected by that.

Pallbearers carry the coffin of Peter Nemapare

The two clubs are considered the oldest in the country though Alexandra FC of Harare from Alexandra who were in competitive leagues for some 40 years may claim the slot having been formed in 1896.

The trip to Buhera if the logistic end of things favoured my path, would have had a detour on either way, via Jobilingo Farm at Rockford area of Shurugwi where Nemapare lived in his retirement as a Bishop of the African United Methodist Church founded by his father, Esau Jan Thomas in 1921.This was after his father had broken from the Methodist Church.

That he was key to the establishment of Chikwata after a split in 1965 from the initial structure that had existed from 1931, was the propelling desire to speak to him, hear the Chikwata story, share with others for posterity and start point towards the recording of football history near my sphere.

To football Nemapare was a big man, a big shot, a gentleman who should not have been forgotten in so many pioneering roles for the most popular sport in the land. He is a man who should have been gracing Zifa and PSL special moments in honour of his contribution to the game.

But on Thursday only Zimbabwe Saints were there of the football family to bid farewell to a great man who was pivotal in building one of the most successful football clubs in the country, a treasure that many hold dear to their hearts.

A team whose demise touches the hearts of many as they  remember the treasured moments of the 1960s-1980s when Chikwata reigned among the top clubs in the country, producing gems that equate to any the country boasts of today.

One would have expected Zifa to be in attendance to pay tribute to one of the pioneering black football administrators of note.

This would have demonstrated predecessor value and institutional memory recognition. But one would love to forgive those who are running the show, they may not have ever heard about him because he ran before their time.

Nemapare was born in 1936 in Shurugwi and attended Rockford Primary School before proceeding to Thekwane High School in Bulilima District, Matabeleland South Province. After four years there he found himself at Goromonzi in Mashonaland East Province for his A-level education.

He worked for Bulawayo City Council and got a job with the then Rhodesia Railways which took him to as far as Kitwe in Zambia during the days of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

Mourners singing at Nemapare’s funeral

During his days most guys who were a bit more affluent than their black colleagues found better female company in nurses at Mpilo Central Hospital.

It is there that he found the love of his life, Daisy Volo Sibanda of Lupane whom he was married to for over 50 years.According to Gibson Homela a Saints legend from the 1960s, Nemapare was a key figure in his move to Zimbabwe Saints in 1962/3.

Homela described Nemapare as a true Saints hero and legend who deserves his place in the club’s history.Having been instrumental in his move and that of Aleck Mwanza and William Sibanda to join the club, he, however, carved himself a permanent place in Zimbabwe Saints’ folklore when along Herbert Ushewokunze and Oliver Munyaradzi they became the backbone of the club.

There was a split at Chikwata in 1965 that left Saints with two factions, Mashonaland FC led by Reuben Zemura and Mashonaland United with Munyaradzi, Nemapare and Ushewokunze.

Mashonaland United went on to be the more popular and successful one winning the BAT Rosebowl Cup in 1974, the league and cup double in 1977, the regional league title in 1979, the Chibuku Trophy and Super League title in 1988 to rate among the best clubs ever in the history of the game in Bulawayo and Zimbabwe.

Through Nemapare’s vision and good leadership, Chikwata were associated with great players like William Sibanda, Ebson Muguyo, Andrew Kadengu, Agent Sawu, Douglas Maneto, Emmanuel Sibanda, Moses Moyo, Isaac Chipangura, Isaac Banda, Ephraim Moloi, Ronald Sibanda, Zebron Magorimbo, Musa Muzanenhamo, Muzondiwa Mugadza, Ephraim Chawanda, Joseph Machingura, John Sibanda, Misheck Sibanda, Mlungisi Ndebele, Obey Sova, George Ayibu, Henry Mckop, Simon Supiya, Adam Maseko and Steven Chuma.

While Saints are now languishing between extinction and trying to come back to being, Saints chairman Lloyd Munhanga said their being there representing Chikwata was to tap from where it started.

He promised that in Nemapare’s honour they would like to return to glory days.

“He was from here, it is where it all started, we have come to draw from his wisdom, Saints will be back in full force,” Munhanga pledged.

Nemapare and John Madzima ran the Rhodesia National Football League with aplomb.Perhaps their only blemish being their alleged fight against Highlanders that had Bosso leaving the RFNL to form the South Zone Soccer League fed up with what they alleged was abuse by the duo.

Nemapare was passionate about the game, he loved his Zimbabwe Saints and every speaker had glowing praises for him.On the political front, he was part of the Bulawayo delegation at the founding of Zanu-PF in 1963.

He was among the first black magistrates before Zimbabwe’s Independence.Nemapare’s other notable achievement was his appointment as one of the first senior managers at the National Railways of Zimbabwe soon after Independence.

When his father passed on Nemapare took over the United African Methodist Church where he was a Bishop up to the time of his death.

Despite his love for the ministry, soccer and politics, Nemapare was passionate about education and many youths from Shurugwi found their way to the Bulawayo Polytechnic where he was at some stage a lecturer.

Football and Zimbabwe lost a dear son who was committed to the common good of society.



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