Zimbabwe: Dhlakama Revisits Dark Past

THERE is one reason why Ngezi Platinum Stars coach, Rodwell Dhlakama, is very emotional when it comes to the Mhondoro Ngezi community.

He was a destitute in this community, where he was born and bred, before earning himself the nickname, Sangoma, which has stuck with him until this day.

Born 46 years ago at the Mhondoro Ngezi rural hospital, the ex-Monomotapa gaffer was left in the custody of his maternal grandparents while his parents relocated to their original roots in Chipinge.

Things went well until his grandmother, Regina Tshakalisa Mutizira, passed away while Dhlakama was in Form 3 at Ngezi High School.

"Things changed. It was so hard. My parents were so poor in Chipinge and couldn't even afford to attend my grandmother's funeral in time as they didn't have resources," recalls Dhlakama.

The only way of communication available to the young Dhlakama was letter-writing.

Dhlakama, who had made a name for himself at school by making it in the football first team while in Form 1, and also starring as a "sangoma" in a school drama, had to quickly devise an alternative way for him to continue with his education.

"The nickname, Sangoma came about when I took the role of a traditional healer in a school drama. The nickname has stuck until now.

"But, I had nowhere to stay after the death of my grandmother. I had to write separate letters to my sister in Mutare, and my parents in Chipinge, narrating my predicament.

"It was so hard. I was chased away from Ngezi High and I looked for a place at Dondoshava Secondary School.

"My parents were so poor they couldn't afford to come and pick me up. I had to use a dilapidated structure at Chitani Growth Point to shelter myself.

"I would go without a meal for some days. Sometimes, friends would bring me food which I would prepare using some tins in that dilapidated structure at the shops."

He would walk for over seven kilometres, from Chitani to Dondoshava, on an empty stomach.

But things would change for the worse after he failed to pay school fees.

"At that point, the only option I had was to find means to be in Chipinge where my parents were.

"I had no money at all but one lady, by the name Chipo Marunza, who was a shopkeeper in her father's shop at Chitani, decided to help me. She gave me a $5 note (old currency).

"Her father was a driver and she pleaded with him to take me to Harare, which he did.

"I boarded the bus to Mutare but that was before it was found out, while we were already in Nyazura, that I had not paid. The crew forced me out and took the $5 away from me."

Dhlakama had to complete the over 45 kilometres remainder of the journey on foot while he left his luggage in the bus.

"When I arrived in Mutare, my sister found me a place at Dangamvura High, though there were some difficulties, as I didn't have a transfer letter from Dondoshava.

"I finally got a taste of a decent life and passed my examinations before enrolling for my first university degree."

Now, Dhlakama, wants to win the league title for the community of Mhondoro Ngezi.

Dhlakama has drafted individual programmes for his players during this 21-day nationwide lockdown.

He has added 12 new players into his fold, including Denver Mukamba, Wellington Taderera, Devon Chafa, Junior Zindoga and Kudzai Chigwida.

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