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DEATH, BE NOT PROUD!

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Death, be not proud, though some have called thee 

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; 

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow 

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. 

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, 

Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, 

And soonest our best men with thee do go, 

Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery. 

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, 

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell, 

And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well 

And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then? 

One short sleep past, we wake eternally 

And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die. 

It is times like these when words are not enough. 

It is times like these when we have to seek solace not only from the Almighty God but in the comfort of words like the poem by John Donne. 

As if writing for his dearly departed namesake, John Mazibuko, the legendary John Donne could not have put the feelings of my broken heart more succinctly than in this poem, ‘Death, be not proud,’

cruel

“Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,” Donne wrote and it is how I felt when I heard yesterday that the cruel hands of death had once again struck our football fraternity. 

Mazibuko passed away while under-going treatment on Wednesday at Mbabane Clinic at 6:15pm. What a sad loss.

I have known Mazibuko for the past two decades; first as a player and an administrator for the then Swaziland Tennis Association (STA). My Saturday mornings as a starry-eyed reporter were spent at the Kwaluseni Tennis courts watching the Dludlu and Jele brothers (Sihle, Duma, Maxwell, Derrick) do their thing and there he was, always with a charming smile and soft voice, giving pearls of wisdom to the thin-as-a-rake young scribe, explaining each and every set on the court. 

Mazibuko never got tired explaining even the tiniest of details every weekend as one learnt more about the sport. 

Many years later, we were to cross paths again, this time, the weary Mazibuko met the once thin-as-a-rake but now plump, grey-bearded scribe with a golf course on his head at the Sigwaca House. 

Yours Truly as Sports Editor of the country’s biggest newspaper by a long mile and him, as Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) Chief Executive Officer (CEO). “I told you remember, that you will make a good journalist, because you paid attention to detail and you were willing to learn,” he enthused. “I knew our football needed someone as honest as you at some point in time,” I fired back. We laughed hysterically.

Mazibuko was softer-than-silk. He probably wouldn’t hurt a straying fly even if it sat on his nose. Mazibuko was an affable man, a lekker toppie with an affinity for humanity. 

At times I really felt for him when he had to apply a bit of spin-doctoring to cover the backside of his boss, the dearly departed Victor ‘Maradona’ Gamedze, who at times trampled upon all the tenets of corporate governance in the quest to get things done his way at the PLE office, which not surprising is now an enclave for rubble-rousers, who are allowing opportunists to drag the integrity of the sport through the mud with gay abandon without even lifting so much of a finger. 

“Lwazi, you need to understand umphatsi wami wenta tintfo ngendlela yakhe. Asibambisane guys kulesimo lesi,” he would say in his voice, pleading for leniency and understanding from the hacks.

I don’t think there is any football official who can accuse Mazibuko of having not given him an ear whenever he or she had an issue at the PLE office. He was approachable and always willing to assist with any information. 

Outside the ambit of our jobs, we talked a lot of about issues related to politics, sport especially our beloved Orlando Pirates Football Club and of course England’s most successful side, Manchester United. He never hid the fact that he was also an ardent supporter of the red and white glamour Swallows of Mbabane. 

Won

The last conversation I had with him was about two weeks ago when he called after the ‘Red Devils’ won 2-0 against Leicester City to confirm return to the ‘Big Boys’ league, the Champions League, and it was poignant. 

“It was tough but we made it Lwazi. It’s important we get back to Champions League, this team deserves to play at that level.”

On that note, Mwelase you deserve to rest. You have run your mile. What a fulfilling life you lived Mwelase, full of zeal and zest, filled with fun and colour. Death, be not proud.  

  We will meet again. I know you will be waiting for me in the pearly gates of heaven, with a racquet in hand, a Rafael Nadala red cap, wearing your beautiful Orlando Pirates Football Club replica, adorned with a Mbabane Swallows scarf around your neck and wearing your Manchester United mask. We will talk about our favourite subjects – football and tennis in between our hearty laughter. 

Death, be not proud.

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