THE “Whitehorse”, Highlanders legend Tymon Mabaleka, scored his last goal yesterday as he was laid to rest at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo.
SUKOLUHLE MTHETHWA/ THANDIWE MOYO
Born on November 27 1949 in Nswazi, Umzingwane District, Mabaleka died on June 27 in Harare after complaining of a fever.
“Everything my father touched turned into gold. The football and music he touched turned to gold.”
These were the words of Zwelihle Hallowed Mabaleka son of Tymon during the church service at a fully-packed Selborne Park Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church yesterday.
The late Highlanders player was given a befitting send-off as thousands of people paid their last respects.
“I don’t have much to say, but all I can say is we have to be strong. My father always used to say ‘my children hold on to your faith. Don’t worry about what people may say; don’t worry about what people may do’. I would like to thank you all for coming here it is not easy, but it has happened. I hope that one day we will meet him and laugh the way we used to laugh. He loved joking a lot. We always used to laugh around him because he was always smiling and laughing. That was his nature,” Zwelihle said.
His churchmate and fellow elder at Mandara SDA church in Harare, Reggie Saruchera, said they had lost an important figure at the church.
“To the soccer fans: You used to say he was a soccer legend. The musicians used to say he was a great producer. Zwelihle said he was the best father, but to Mandara church he was a humble elder. Elder Mabaleka was the first elder 14 years ago when Mandara church was formed. We gathered and said who would lead the church and we all agreed that it would be elder Mabaleka. The foundation he left for the church was excellent. Whether you are Ndebele or Shona at the cross the ground is level. That was elder Mabaleka for you. His teaching was we are all the same in the eyes of the Lord. This is the culture that Mabaleka has left in the church,” he said.
Pastor Fairchild Mhlophe thanked his Mandara congregands for attending the burial.
“On behalf of SDA from the Mandara church who have come to attend the burial, I want to sincerely thank you my brothers and sisters. This is the spirit we cherish in the church of God. In the cross we are the same,” he said.
Family spokesperson Christopher Simela said the late Mabaleka united people. “We had hope in him. He was a good man and even if a person didn’t know him they knew him by name. He was a magnet and drew people together. He taught people to come together. He promoted Bulawayo and people came together through his influence,” he said.
Mabaleka attended Mpopoma High School and later moved to Mzilikazi High School. He is survived by wife Josephine and children Zwelihle, Nqobile and Kholiwe.
He was regarded as one of the top midfielders to play for Highlanders after starting his career at Eastlands Football Club.
He worked for Gramma Records in Harare and produced music for Lovemore Majaivana, the late Solomon S’kuza, Ebony Sheikh, Shepherd Chinyani and the Vhuka Boys, Leonard Zhakata and the late John Chibadura.
He played in the late 1970s to early 1980s with Bruce Grobbelaar, Lawrence Phiri, Josiah Nxumalo, Ananias Dube, Boet Van As, Billy Sibanda, Gavin Dubely, Kenny Ngulube, Barry Daka and the late Majuta Mpofu among others.
Mabaleka: A life well-lived
Mabaleka has been described as a respectable, courteous, skilful and supportive man who not only helped people succeed in one way or another, but encouraged them in their line of work. Speaker after speaker said they were saddened by Mabaleka’s sudden death and the huge void he had left. Mabaleka was not only known in the footballing circles, but was also instrumental in building careers of a number of musicians while at Gramma Records (now Zimbabwe Music Company). Below is what they said:
Leonard Zhakata — Produced 12 of 19 albums:
He was my father in music. I thought that today his body would be taken to Barbourfields Stadium and a lot of people would be there to bid him farewell, but that is our problem as Zimbabweans, we do not appreciate what a person does in his own country. We met when I was very young and he imparted his gift to me. He worked with a number of great musicians such as Lovemore Majaivana and the late Fanyana Dube. What he gave me I cannot rate because it was great. He said all the fame and money comes from God.
Obadiah Matulana — Produced 20 albums:
We have lost a great person. The only question I have now is that Mabaleka wanted a gala to be held in Bulawayo and he never got around to do that. The question is who will do it now? Could the company (Zimbabwe Music Company) please look into that? Mabaleka was dedicated to his job and tried by all means to uplift the musicians that he worked with. He always told Bulawayo musicians not to be crybabies, but to work hard. He left me with 20 albums. He was loved by everyone including his fellow players.
Thintitha Tshuma — One album
I worked on one album with him. He was a good man and we worked well together. The company has lost a good producer and we do not know how they will continue without him.
Sotsha Moyo, Black Umfolosi
Mabaleka was a brother, a producer and a director. He listened and gave artists his honest view. We have lost a great person. He was our West Nkosi (a South African music producer, saxophonist and songwriter). He produced a lot of songs and we were still in talks for him to work with us. He leaves a legacy in this field and we hope it is carried on.
Edward Dzowa — Highlanders legend:
There are a number of players that he played with who include Ananias Dube, Josiah Nxumalo, Billy Sibanda and Kenny Luphahla. It is unfortunate that the current executive does not come out in the open when things like this happen. Let us remember that God makes things easier. His death was untimely.
Billy Sibanda — Highlanders legend
He left a legacy that we will have to learn from. He lived well with church people and ex-players who are all here. Tymon was our own Messi (Lionel Messi, Argentina and Barcelona player). We put our trust in him during the time we were playing.”
Kainot Luphahla — Highlanders legend:
He was a good player especially when we played against a team like Zimbabwe Saints. He didn’t like fighting, but when he was always pushed around when he played against (Gibson) Homela so we would have (the late) Majuta Mpofu mark Homela. He was a good person.
Themba “Taxi” Ncube — Highlanders legend:
When I joined the team I was the youngest player and he was a good person. He showed us how to take care of ourselves. We were hoping that he would be one of the Zifa administrators but people like him are always sidelined. It is sad. It is good that he had accepted Jesus as his personal saviour.
Madinda Ndlovu — Highlanders legend:
He was the man who pushed me to learn how to drive. When we went for training he would throw a bunch of keys to me and tell me to clean their cars and even though there was a car that was not parked properly he would say ‘you know what to do’. It is sad that he passed on without being sick. History can never be written without Mabaleka.
Johannes Tshuma: Highlanders legend:
I am heartbroken. I learnt a lot about football from him. I do not have much to say.
Former Highlanders legend and former chairman Ernest “Maphepha” Sibanda:
As Bulawayo we have lost a hero in Mabaleka. He was one of the most disciplined captains I played with. He inspired us. He told us what it meant to be a Highlanders player. Highlanders is a brand. He taught us what it meant to wear the Highlanders jersey. He would tell us that we need to go and win when we were in camp. He taught us a lot.
Chris Mhlanga — former Highlanders and Eastlands player:
He was one of the best players ever produced in this country. He could even play for a club like Real Madrid because he had very good chest control and his ball distribution was very good. He was also praised by former Zimbabwe Saints legends
Phillimon Dangarembwa: Mabaleka was a gentleman.
We played against Bosso at Babourfields and he got injured and was taken to hospital. So I would go there to see him. When he saw me he said that he like the way I played. I also told him I enjoyed watching him play. We have lost a great man.
Ebson “Sugar” Muguyo:
I feel so much pain because you the reporters do not know yester-year players. You only see yester-year players at funerals. But I do not blame you. As for me, I get respect at Kaizer Chiefs, but I do not get any respect from my own country.
Notable people who attended include Highlanders legend Zenzo Moyo, Ali “Baba” Dube, Marko Dube, Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu, Shepherd Mabaleka, Douglas “British” Mloyi, former Zifa chairman Vincent Pamire, Zifa Southern Region chairman Musa Mandaza as well as Highlanders chairman and Premier Soccer League vice-chairman Peter Dube, committee member Charles Moyo, treasurer Jerry Sibanda and board members Jonathan S Moyo and Jimmy Ncube. Zifa was represented by its vice-president Omega Sibanda while representatives from the Sports and Recreation Commission were in attendance too.