Football legend Mkwesha dies

HARARE - Freddy Mkwesha, a Dynamos legend and founding member, who became one of the finest footballers to grace the scene in pre-independent Zimbabwe, died yesterday at Harare Central Hospital after a battle with diabetes.

He was 74. Mourners are gathered at 6815 Glen Norah A Flats in Harare.

Mkwesha, who was there in the trenches when Dynamos was formed in 1963, rose to become the Glamour Boys leader.

At the time of his death, Mkwesha was playing an advisory role to the team’s all-powerful board.

Mkwesha is survived by four children Virginia and Charity, who are in Germany and the United Kingdom respectively from his first marriage with singer Stella Chiweshe while the other two Nyasha and Cynthia are from his second marriage to Agnes.

Family spokesperson Cosmos Mkwesha confirmed the death, adding that burial arrangements would be announced in due course.

“He died at Harare Central Hospital this morning (yesterday). He has been battling with diabetes for some time. He was admitted at Harare Central Hospital last Friday,” said Cosmos.

“As a family, we are saddened by his untimely death. He was a family unifier and one of the three fathers that was left.

“He has left a huge vacuum which is difficult to fill. Burial arrangements will be announced in due course.” 

Mkwesha’s fellow board members and the Dynamos executive yesterday converged at his home in Glen Norah to pay their last respects.

Bernard Marriot Lusengo, chairman of the influential founding fathers’ board, said this was a sad day for the Glamour Boys.

“We are all shocked to learn of Mkwesha’s death. It’s a big loss not only to Dynamos but to football in general,” said Lusengo.

“He was a football icon and there is no doubt about that. He was a fatherly figure and he was always giving us advice. We have been robbed of a football icon. He is irreplaceable.”

Dynamos chairman Kenny Mubaiwa described Mkwesha’s death as a big blow to the club.

“He was a pillar of strength to the team. He was more like a unifying factor. Each time we had problems, we would go to him to seek recourse,” said Mubaiwa.

“He was behind much of our success. We owe much of our success to him, especially in the previous years. He was the father of the team. He is one irreplaceable person. We will greatly miss him. He was one respected person in the team.”

Widely regarded as one of Zimbabwe’s finest footballers, Mkwesha was the first black Zimbabwean player to seal a deal in Europe when he signed for Portugal top flight side Sporting De Braga in 1966.

He signed for Braga after impressing as a 25-year-old when the club toured and played the then Rhodesia national team.

Unfortunately, during his playing days, Rhodesia was banned from international competitions owing to racist policies of the colonial government.

Mkwesha rubbed shoulders with Portugal and World Cup great Eusebio during his time there and upon his return he coached CAPS United and later joined Dynamos as a director.

Former Zimbabwe captain Moses Chunga was saddened by Mkwesha’s death.

“He was our elder and commanded a lot of respect. He was open with everyone else,” Chunga said.

“The problem is we don’t appreciate our elders when they are still alive. People want to celebrate the lives of such people when they are dead while neglecting them whilst they are still alive. It’s bad for our football. It’s very sad and we need to do something.”

Condolences also flowed in from former players who worked with Mkwesha.

“Today is a black day in the history of Zim football as Sir Freddy Mkwesha has gone to be with the Lord,” wrote former CAPS United defender Frank Nyamukuta on his Facebook page.

“He has been a mentor to a lot of successful players in Zim. For me, it was a great privilege and honour just to know him and let alone to work with him. He was the reason why my football career blossomed at Makepekepe.

“He was the pillar of strength at CAPS United FC. Whenever we were down, he would encourage us to get up and look forward to tomorrow. He was full of wisdom. Today, I mourn, yes, but above all, I celebrate your life. You were and still are a true Legend even though you have left us. The memories will never fade.”

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