Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE heavens opened up and the rain poured down as the hearse carrying the body of the late football administration icon Ndumiso Gumede made its way into the Highlanders clubhouse for a brief stop yesterday afternoon.
Gumede, who succumbed to kidney failure at the age of 76 last Wednesday afternoon at Mpilo Central Hospital, will be buried at his rural Inyathi home in Bubi District this morning.
His body left Bulawayo yesterday afternoon to lie in state in Inyathi, a place where he found sanctuary many times when he wasn’t working.
As per his wish, Gumz, Yours Truly or The One and Only, as he was popularly known, will be buried next to his father Sithelo Gumede and mother Elina Msimanga.
En route to his final resting place, the football luminary, who was described as an oasis of knowledge and fountain of wisdom, received a befitting memorial service for a person of his stature.
The heavy downpour as the hearse carrying his body with temporary personalised plates written “Yours Truly” parked at the clubhouse, is culturally interpreted to mean that a great person has departed and his spirit is pleased with the way people are celebrating his life instead of mourning his departure.
And that the heavens opened up at the clubhouse, which Gumede helped secure for Highlanders as the club’s chairman, capped a fine last stop for the departed Bosso president.
Gumede was instrumental in securing Highlanders the properties they pride themselves in, with the other ones being the Robert Mugabe Way offices and the Luveve camping house popularly known as ‘Hotel California’.
Besides serving Highlanders with distinction as chairman, chief executive officer, board member and president, Gumede also once served Zifa as a committee member, vice-president, secretary-general and chief executive officer.
In between speakers at his funeral service at the Amphitheatre in Bulawayo yesterday morning, legendary musician Lovemore Majaivana’s song Badlala njani and some Bosso songs by Thuts Harshtouch belted out from the PA system, while director of ceremonies Kennedy Ndebele took charge of the proceedings.
All the speakers spoke glowingly about Gumede, a man full of life, a jovial figure and yet a “straight talker”, and a person that strove to find solutions through engagement.
Zie Masiye, a friend of Gumede, recited a poem he wrote in honour of the football administration doyen, rousing emotions from the gallery as he recalled the great works that the departed Highlanders’ president did as a football administrator, teacher and an artist (entertainer).
“Most of the things I’ve achieved it’s through Gumede. I got a house because of Gumede and Lawrence Phiri.
I’ve a house in Block 4, Mpopoma because of him. Gumede was an administrator, a teacher, an insurance rep and had a sweet tongue; that’s why he succeeded as a sales rep. Overall, he was a jack of all trades,” said Douglas Mloyi, who was representing former Bosso players.
Highlanders’ board chairman Luke Mnkandla said Gumede, a long-time friend of his, believed that “cash talk” doesn’t break friendship.
“He served Zimbabwe football for 48 years with distinction.
He was an inspiration to many.
When it comes to football, Gumede was an oasis of knowledge and fountain of wisdom.
We learnt a lot from this man from the time he led us when we were Highlanders’ representatives based in Harare.
“Gumede did great things for Highlanders and we have to be grateful to people like (late Vice-President) Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, Roger Muhlwa and Douglas Mkhwananzi, who pleaded with him to take up the Highlanders chairmanship.
When he took over, Bosso had $2 in their account and a debt of $20 000.
By the time he addressed his first AGM, Bosso had $17 000 in their account.
All that was achieved because of his good leadership,” Mnkandla said.
He said it was unfortunate that some people within Highlanders sought to soil Gumede’s name, describing the veteran administrator as a “spent force”, “a useless man” when he tirelessly and selfishly served Bosso without depriving the club of “a penny”.
Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) representative Sam Dzvimbu said: “Gumede is a luminary.
The gap he has left is big.
He participated in policy formulation and was a candid and humble man.”
Gumede’s friend Peter Moyo said: “The man was full of life, he was very much ahead of his time in the sense that in 1979, at the age of 34, he was the chairman of Highlanders.
What he also did in the administration of Bosso, he created a finance committee and as a young chartered accountant I was privileged to sit there.
Highlanders were the only club to be audited by big audit firms under Gumede.
“He took over Highlanders when they were in debt and left them with a legacy in the (form of a) clubhouse, (Hotel) California, own office and own buses.
Who could have done that? So, when I say he was ahead of his time, I’m talking about achievements.
We were blessed with him as chair.” – @ZililoR
Article Source: The Chronicle