Mkwesha was my rock - Shaya

HARARE - A five-decade friendship between two of pre-independent Zimbabwe’s greatest footballers came to an end yesterday when the angel of death claimed the life of Freddy Mkwesha, leaving George Shaya’s wife fearing for her husband’s health.

Shaya was inconsolable yesterday as he arrived in the high density suburb of Glen Norah A to pay his last respects to his longtime friend who succumbed to diabetes.

The 69-year-old had known Mkwesha since the 1960s when both players turned out for Dynamos after the club was established in 1963.
At that time, the Glamour Boys were considered more than just a football club but a political force that stood as a symbol of black pride and resistance to white minority rule in pre-independent Zimbabwe.

“Mkwesha had become an integral part of his life which helped with his condition. He saved my husband’s life. I don’t know what I am going to do without him,” said Agnes, Shaya’s wife of 38 years.
Shaya is one of 35 million people in the world who live with dementia, a broad category of brain diseases that causes a gradual decrease in the ability to think properly and remember events.

“What can we do kana wedenga ati huya unoramba uchiti chii? (If God calls you, you cannot refuse). It’s the way of life I just have to find a way to keep going,” Shaya said.
Mkwesha became the country’s first European export after he signed for Sporting de Braga in 1966, long before many African footballers started the great trek.

Known for his artistry in midfield and precision in front of goal, the midfield maestro rose to prominence in the founding 1963 Dynamos team.
Out of his numerous outings for DeMbare was the game against Salisbury Callies when he played a blinder in midfield and attack before earning the nickname “Mark” Mkwesha.

It was, however, not until the Sporting de Braga game against Dynamos that Mkwesha was to become an international icon.
Though Dynamos lost that encounter 1-0, Mkwesha’s exploits in the middle of the park earned him rave reviews in the Sporting de Braga camp as the Portuguese outfit wanted to return to Europe with him straight away.

He would, however, go through the formalities and begin a move that saw him become the first Zimbabwean to sign for a European club.
The historic move saw him team up with the likes of the late Benfica legend Eusebio, as the few blacks to play in the Portuguese league.

“There were not more than 10 blacks in the whole league at that time,” Mkeshwa once told this writer during a casual meeting at Raylton Sports Club.
“Our small numbers made us a united front, as we would always have constant meetings to cook sadza and think about home.”

Mkwesha would spend four seasons at Braga before being loaned out to First Division side Fafe FC.
The attacking midfielder was to stamp his midfield prowess in his first season at the club and won the Golden Boot award.

However, his stint with the club was to be short-lived after suffering kidney failure.
His absence from the creative hub of midfield did not mean the demise of his football career as he began a career in coaching.

Mkwesha was incorporated into the coaching staff of the Portuguese division one side before returning to Zimbabwe to join CAPS United as the head coach in 1984.
As coach, Mkwesha went on to unearth gems that have gone on to impact Zimbabwean football in all spheres of the sport.

Having coached both CAPS United and the national team, Mkwesha always regarded Moses Chunga as the best footballer to emerge from Zimbabwe.

Mkwesha died still giving back to the sport he loves as a member of Founding Fathers Association of Dynamos.

Comments (3)

Rest in peace Soccer Legend

Soccer Fan - 9 December 2015

there you go

terridah edwards - 9 December 2015

Ndinoti kumhuri yaBaba Mkwesha,and the nation at large Baba vakarwa kurwa kwakanaka, Life will never be the same again asi tinotenda Mwari vanoita chinhu for a reason , zvasarira isu vapenyu ,zororai murugare rwa Ishe wedu Jesu Kristo.Dakara tasanganazve.

Emmanuel Chido Nyamaropa - 14 December 2015

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