When I came to Atlanta in the late sixties I felt like a new born baby here in the land of Martin Luther King, Andrew Young, and Rap Brown Georgia was by and large the Birmingham of the civil rights movement.
My quest for meaning in life and seeking to live for the love of life was the driving force to my journey to Atlanta and the deeper South.
And the fire in me to rap about the liberation struggle was also ignited, a plethora of people ranging from student organizations in Atlanta Campus Churches, African Americans showed a growing interest in the situation that existed in South Africa around that time.
Another South African who happen to be in Atlanta around that time was the Late Rev Gladstone Nhlabathi a distinguished liberation theologian who engaged most of the churches in Atlanta and the deeper South, talking about the ethical justification of a violent revolution in South Africa.
He brought an interesting dimension to the anti apartheid movement that was at its embryonic stage of development in Atlanta and the rest of the Southern States in the USA. Arch Bishop Tutu message of the evil system of apartheid continued the debate unabatedly.
Rev Gladstone and I decided to live together, ate together drank like fish together when frustrated about the skirmishes of life in exile. We became like glove and hand in Atlanta. On certain occasion Gladstone went to Boston, to visit his family that he left behind for a little while in Boston.
But they finally joined him in Atlanta on a permanent basis.
When my memory beckons for future, here at home in the rainbow nation of ours, I often ruminate about the good old days I had in Atlanta Georgia.
With my African American Brothers and Sisters especially from SNCC, a student organization of John Lewis, Rap Brown, Khwame Toure, Cleveland Sellers, Cathy Spellman, Brother Ricks and Bernice Reagan.
All gave me a sense of belonging in Atlanta Georgia, a fear driven city were the Ku Klux Clan still had their tentacles deeply rooted.
Some parts of Alabama and Mississippi were very reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
At this August of my life I never took things beyond the world of perception but one critical incident that stayed with me for a long time, is now rekindled by the Kaizer Chief Football Club celebration of forty years of existence. This correlates with the FIFA 2010 World CUP. My story revolves around Kaizer Motaung the chairman of Kaizer Chiefs.
Our brotherly love remains an unbroken song with him since Atlanta Georgia.
A place mentioned by the late Martin Luther King when he said “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”
I woke up on typical forgy Monday in Atlanta and had in the news that there was a young soccer player scheduled to arrive from South Africa to come and play for Atlanta Chiefs Soccer Team.
I immediately made inquiry to find out more about the player.
And guess who that was! Kaizer , Chin Sha Guluva, Motaung.
I knew him from Sowetu as a rising star in our local soccer.
Imagine my delight when we made an arrangement to meet in down town Atlanta. It was indeed a joyous occassion which will always remain prestine fresh in my mind.
He never minced words about his aims and aspirations of making soccer the main orchestration of his life.
He believed our struggle was to be fort in many fronts.
It was chrystal clear Kaizer would be like kalamazoo .
In achieving recognition as a finest player from South Africa, to hit the international soccer scene in a big way.
We started meeting frequently when he was not practicing soccer.
Kaizer arranged soccer tickets for me for all the Chief games in Atlanta.
I also recruited some of my SNCC African Americans to come and be the soul witness of the magic of soccer at professional level.
When Kaizer touched the ball we all broke out and screamed his name.
CHIN CHA NGULUVA was too boring for us and the rest of the Chiefs fans.
So we all started calling him Boy! Boy! Whenever he touched the ball.
Atlanta a city known for black intellectual debates and revolutionary rhetorics, soon found soccer as the best way to while away time when Chiefs played.
I quickly became popular to my African American for getting soccer tickets.
Mwila and Kapengwe who also played gave us their complimentary tickets as well.
As kaizer did his magic at the soccer field I became promoted to be the soul brother for all the Africans who played soccer for Chiefs.
The African American community fell in love with Kaizer.
His fame and glory made people want to know more about South Africa I often invited Kaizer for a pep talk with local clubs around Georgia.
The African American from the disadvantaged community in Vine City a slum area adjacent to the late Martin Luther King House.
Would say ” Boy! Boy! is something else man. He is good people”
In Atlanta Kaizer Motaung never came in singular term.
Sometimes Chincha Guluva , Gladstone and I would plan an evening at the BirdCage or at Pascals for some soul food and good jazz yes our favourite food was some chicken with yam and a bit of chitlings.
The jazz and conversation with some luminaries in Atlanta was always refreshing.
But by the time big people joined us like Rev Andy Young I would be very intoxicated.
Especially when Dizzy Gillespy or Cannonbal Adderly were featured.
Jonas Gwagwa who also came to Atlanta would feature in BirdCage jam sessions.
His play would bring the house down with his trombone filled with Melodies and rhythm that captured the spirit of the deeper South ‘Emzansi’.
After the show I was often whisked home in bad shape.
The following day Kaizer would say to me Steph you make sense when you are sober. Try and limit your appetite for liquor.
I promised not to drink like fish again. But promises were never kept.
Kaizer was very cordial to his fellow South Africans in general.
And our intimate friends who ranged from Harrambe Sisters, Abe Spellmen, James Forman, Weldon Rogue, Rev Andy Young and a litany of African American who are very prominent people today.
He never seized to be known as soft spoken and a gentle person in Atlanta.
Everybody enjoyed watching him in a soccer match.
Especially when playing against Pele and other prominent Brazilian players.
We all enjoyed watching Boy !Boy! waltzing around the soccer field with grace and charm. When he scored against the mighty Brazilian team Pele said ”if I had to pick a national team in my own country in Brazil Kaizer would certainly make the starting line up.”
When all is said about Kaizer contribution to promote soccer in America his heroics can be summed up by the wise words of the late Eskia Mphahlele when he said ’Praise words are bodiless symbols combining in messages that which only the mind can translate and only then their infinite meaning begins’
As for me when ever my memory beckons for future I will always remember the August of my life with Kaizer Motaung as a person gentle in spirit and a lion heart, who extended his friendship to a soul seeking solace like myself.
And through his brotherly love I went on to discover the little light in me and also found success in my own professional life.
By Dr. Stephen S. Mncube (PhD)
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