The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Dembare Dembada Unmasked

It's a typical Sunday afternoon in the capital, Harare, when football giants Dynamos are playing a Mbada Diamonds Cup match against Quelaton at Rufaro Stadium.

The route to the stadium is a sea of blue and white colours with fans making their way into the stadium as early as 12 noon. Around 1pm, a man casually disembarks from a commuter omnibus outside Rufaro Stadium. Queues are beginning to snake from the turnstiles towards the road and some fans are getting agitated at the seemingly slow pace at the gates.

On the western side there is a bar sandwiched between the residential stands and it is here at Kudinga that many fans get their dose of the wise waters before trooping into the stadium.

Week in, week out, fans gather at the bar where they ignite pre-match celebrations and the man who has disembarked from the kombi joins the revellers.

Part of the crowds at the bar are singing and dancing to the drum beat and the man quickly goes in the centre and performs a few dance routines while taking off his shirt and trousers.

From his satchel, he takes out a jumpsuit and dons a leopard mask as the adrenalin among the dancing fans increases.

Now, he is ready to enter the stadium and support his club.

While some will be following the beautiful game, the fanatics will be busy in the terraces trying to outfox each other in cheering their teams.

The guy in the leopard outfit has mesmerised fans with his antics.

Sporadic runs up-and-down the terraces for the entire 90 minutes, singing and dancing is certainly a more menacing trail of soccer fanaticism at any stadium.

The most enterprising ones even dice with death when they perch themselves dangerously atop advertising billboards.

With Alick Macheso's zora butter dance, interesting scenes have been witnessed at the stadium. While some fans, just spread the butter on loaves of bread, others now splash it on their bodies. What is interesting to these soccer fanatics is that when it comes to the national team, whether they are staunch Dynamos supporters, vegetable-wielding CAPS United fans, trumpet-blowing Mighty Bulls or drum-beating Highlanders faithfuls, they join hands to support the Warriors.

Saturday Lifestyle caught up with the mbada guy and he opened up on what inspired him to support football at such scale.

Brian Gowa of Ruwa rose to prominence at the just-ended Mbada Diamonds Cup matches with his outfit that has the colours of a leopard (mbada). His regalia has earned him the nickname DeMbare Dembada.

"I started supporting Dynamos at the tender age of 11. I recall my first day to enter Rufaro Stadium was Sunday 12 May 1990 when Dynamos was playing Black Aces.

"From then I have been an avid Dynamos supporter and I follow the team everywhere, " said Gowa. Although Gowa has been an ardent supporter for DeMbare for 21 years, it was only this year that he stole the hearts of many especially the Dynamos fans through his outfit.

"There are very few people who recognise me as I come home smartly dressed only to put on my mbada regalia at the venue.

"It's just like Beverly (Beverly Sibanda) who comes from home smartly dressed and only takes off her clothes when performing," he said.

Gowa, however, said the mbada jumpsuit was his wife's idea.

"It was one of her outfits that she decided to give to me because of its colours that would match with the name of Mbada Diamonds. I took it to a tailor who then designed it according to my description," said the 32-year old.

A former footballer himself, Gowa said he appreciated the beauty of the game.

"I used to play for Sortbury Football Club in Darwendale before joining Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).

"Unfortunately, that's where my career ended after sustaining a serious knee injury," said the former Glen View High 2 student.

When he is not rallying behind his team, Gowa would be at his shop, JB Electronics, which specialises in electrical gadgets such as televisions and decoders However, all is not always rosy for soccer fanatics who sometimes have to bear the wrath of supporters from a losing team.

Some supporters and players fail to hold back their emotions and weep openly if results don't go their way. The reactions differ and sometimes it can be worse. Gowa added that the worldover supporters are the backbone of any sport, particularly football. He urged supporters to be loyal and to be responsible.

"Let's support the spirit of fair play. Let's say no to hooliganism. Without support the fun, entertainment and central values associated with football would hardly be possible," he said.

Commenting on her husband's soccer fanaticism, Miriam Madakadze said she had grown to love football because of her husband.

She encouraged other women to rally behind their husband's hobbies.

"The secret to a happy marriage is love and supporting each other. Just try and appreciate what your loved ones want. For me, I go an extra mile giving my husband even bus fare for him to go and cheer on his team," said Miriam.

The couple live in Ruwa and are in the process of developing their residential stand.

The former Edgars accounts clerk said the sky is the limit for him when it comes to working hard, fending for his family.

Born 32 years ago in the capital, Gowa and Miriam are blessed with two boys Ryan (5) and Ryle (3).

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