On the calendar, 29 December will always be a sombre day, one that robbed many in the domains of the Zimbabwean arts and football, as the date came with a black cloud of death that claimed celebrated Zimbabwean football administrator Ndumiso Gumede.
The larger-than-life goofy timer suffered a stroke at Mpilo Hospital around 3PM on that day.
He was 76.
By the time of his death, he was the president of Highlanders FC and on 22 December, Bosso followers gathered together at the Clubhouse to celebrate Gumede’s 48 years in football, little did they know he was smelling his roses for the last time.
In as much as many knew his works on the football terrain, Gumede also played a pivotal role in shaping the arts industry both pre and post-independence.
In the 60s and 70s, Gumede was a darling of many on Radio Mthwakazi and he was one of the famous voices back then with the likes of Luke Mnkandla.
Veteran arts doyen Cont Mhlanga reckons the versatile skills of Gumede on radio broadcasting and also featuring on top radio plays of that time such as Sakhelene Zinini where the late played the character of Fanyana.
He also traced the radio career of Gumede after independence, featuring in Zimbabwean movies up to the times where he stared as General Zwayi on local TV series Amakorokoza.
“I first met Gumz in the late 70s. By then, he was a radio host at Radio Mthwakazi which was famous at that time. He is one of the people who can be credited in shaping the spectrum of the radio industry today.
“After independence, he furthered on with his radio career but this time he challenged himself and ventured into acting and featured in a number of radio plays including Sakhelene Zinini.
“He was always someone who challenged himself to the core and because of that, he then ventured into on-screen acting and he was seen on various Zimbabwean movies like Yellow Card, Mid-Day Sun, World Apart and he was also behind the scenes on Steve Biko,” said Mhlanga.
When Mhlanga and his Amakhosi Performing Arts Academy decided to treat locals with a fresh TV series Amakorokoza, the late Gumede was one of the first people to come in his mind to play a major role.
Gumede has always been there on my mind as a radio personality and as an actor. He was one of the people that we consulted for content creation when we were creating Skyz Metro FM.
“However, as an actor, I think the great gig I had with him was on Amakorokoza where he played General Zwayi.
Whenever, he was given a script, as producers we knew that he would not waste our time in repeating scenes because he was a cherry on top of the cake,” said Mhlanga.
Apart from being part of the local arts, Mhlanga said he will remember Gumede as a GREAT football administrator.
“We all knew Gumede as a football administrator and he was good at it, I mean he came to Highlanders and transformed the team. During his tenure as the chairman, he managed to help Bosso get a home ground, the clubhouse and even the offices.
“He was a pace setter and a unifier at the same time. Many people today follow Bosso because of the vision that was brought by Gumz to Ithimu Yezwe Lonke,” said Mhlanga.
How did Gumede manage to achieve all this for Bosso?
“Unlike other people who suffer from identity crises, Gumede had what I call identity confidence. He knew himself that he was Ndebele and coming from Matabeleland.
“He took it upon himself to become a “messiah” who would unify people and for that to be achieved, he had to go back to the books and study the history of Highlanders from when it was conceived.
“When Bosso was created sometime around 1926 by Albert and Rhodes (King Lobengula’s grandson), the ideology was to create an institution that would foster social change, and Gumede understood that very well.
“This also explains how he was good at transforming Bosso to what it is today. Even though the foundation of the institution was football, Gumede made it a multi-disciplined institution as he encompassed basketball and netball too,” said Mhlanga.
As Bosso is not performing well of late, Mhlanga wishes that Gumede died after solving the real issue that brought a black clout to Highlanders.
He also said the current crop of administrators at Bosso are too political and selfish and that makes the team unsuccessful.
“If you understand the history of the team, there is a group of boys who went to study in South Africa and when they came back, they came with ideas to transform Highlanders and among them was Hlabangane and other early Matabeleland academics.
“They came and met KoNaka Sphambaniso, ugogo uMadlodlo, whose name today was given to a place that we call Madlodlo Beer Garden.
“At that meeting, the vision was to make Highlanders an institution of fostering social change in the community through sport not the politics of the day that are happening at Bosso.
“Those kind of politics yiso isiphambaniso seBosso (that is the sin for Highlanders), because the current leaders are not following the values and norms of the great old team. The selfishness and politics have to be done away with for Bosso to succeed,” said Mhlanga.
The date and place for Gumede’s burial are yet to be announced.