The Sunday News
He holds no bars in expressing himself in any given sphere he happens to be in. He exudes confidence, boldness and eloquence, much to the appreciation of those that work closely to him. Confidently, he calls himself the uncle of love and mentor to both the young and old.
He is not a new name in the media but however, breaking it down to those that might already be in the thicket of wonder, pondering who this might be, it is the tale of one of Zimbabwes’ young but retired cricket players, Dumisani Bongani Mankunzini.
If odds were in his favour, he could be perhaps playing in the Zimbabwe National Cricket team as a leg spinner.
He retired from the much-sought after sport at a very tender age due to a stress fracture on his back, but that did not deter him from finding new avenues from where he could still be in tandem with the game.
He captained the Zimbabwe Under-19 Cricket team back in the day, was in the Tuskers squad and that gift of being the front man in the game never left his side as he is now based in South Africa, doing junior cricket development.
He is a bowling coach and umpire in the première cricket league for Cricket South Africa.
To buttress that Mankunzini is not an easy come cricket player, he played and captained the former World Record Holder Charles Coventry.
He played at the Tuskers with the England National team, all-rounder Moeen Ali, Tatenda Taibu, Makhaya Ntini, Heath Streak, Virat Kholi and Brian Chari, just a snippet of one of the best cricket players he was associated with when he was still on the cricket pitch.
His baby steps in cricket began in the dusty streets of Mpopoma, his home, where he was noticed by the then Zimbabwe Cricket Development coach. In 2002 he played in the Zimbabwean Partridges Week. That is how it began, before the flick of nature that fractured his back.
“I was never really a cricket fanatic. I was a football person and my brother is the one who loved cricket and when we were playing street cricket in Mpopoma outside our house, Sydney Dingizitha the then Zimbabwe Cricket Development coach loved the way I was playing and went inside the house to talk to my parents asking for permission to coach me,” he said.
Resilience was perhaps strapped on his back as he took up his brand name a top notch and started his own cricket initiative DMCI, which is still up and running.
“The initiative is about giving all children the opportunity to play the most prestigious game in the world especially the under-privileged kids. The initiative is still up and running.”
He grew up living an ordinary life but however, at the peak of his mid-20s, unfortunate events creeped into his life. And as he narrates, he reveals the grace of God.
With a series of doors closing in his face, he found the love of God to be his calm surrender, where he lay his burdens and was born again.
“There are a series of sad and painful stories in my life and they have affected me so many times but I am glad that it’s over now. It was not by my intelligence or cleverness but by God’s grace. The Holy Spirit located me and I gave my life to Jesus and since then I have never looked back,” he said.
It was perhaps around the time of repentance that he met his ex-wife Veronica Moyo with whom they bore a son.
Twists and turns took place in the middle of his relocation to South Africa to pursue his cricket coaching.
He never crossed the border a married man. He did not stay married for too long. He is now divorced and currently engaged to one Michelle Zaina Muembo, a teacher in one of the schools in South Africa.
The leg spinner has spun. He takes us down the ordeal of his divorce to the blossoming of his newly found love, wedding bells on the cards.
“It’s true that I was married but when I came to South Africa my ex-wife had already left me. I am now in a very committed relationship with Michelle Zaina Muembo. She is a teacher and also a director of Zaibbi which is Kizomba dancing school. I do have a handsome boy and my pumpkin Michelle loves Nkosana as though he were her own and it’s not an issue that I have a child,” he said.
Asked why he had to divorce, he had this to say. “We were two very different people from different backgrounds as well. She was spiritually mature than me at that time so we always clashed.”
As a parting shot, Mankunzini says he still wishes to play cricket.
“To be honest, I still wish I could be playing now and helping my country. If there is anything I dream of every night is me playing cricket. I really wish I could go back and play but I believe God had other plans for me and God’s plans are always the best,” he added.