Makazhu the great!

Makazhu the great!

It’s a dog’s life
With Robert Mukondiwa

Now every society honours those amongst them whom they see as great, our Msengezi High School society was none different.
Just as Catholics and Anglicans honour men of flesh and skin from amongst them that walked the Holy line-making them saints-we too celebrated our own heroes.
I must stress that I also had a couple of lists where I appeared.
Msengezi students were primma donnas of sorts and were very vain, hence when I arrived as a form one student, my cousin Tatenda and I were amongst those listed as some of the best looking chaps on all the farm that we called a school.
The girls tended to update the top ten list and with time I would climb it and fall on the rankings as other form one streams came into the limelight but I was never booted out totally; bless my soul.
Then there was the list of the brainy kids. Nyikadzino Mahachi, now a reputed doctor, Columbus Mavhunga, and esteemed journalist and one Tavengwa, whose surname I shall not mention as I want to link him to the theory commonly held that those who occasionally smoked pot would become brainiest of all. Such was the story that made rounds about Tavengwa.
He lived up to it and would make a clean sweep of awards in every class he took. He was also expelled towards the end of his study year; also living up to the stereotype!
Then there was the list of people who would lure the girls through their sporting prowess, like Samson Phiri ‘The Magic Dhiri’ who was a basketball player as well as my brother David Mukondiwa also a basketball player of repute and Lovemore Tepatepa the marathon master.
Now Mathew Makazhu was nowhere on those lists of the handsome or the brainy or the sportsperson. He was your typical average Joe. He did not annoy, neither was he annoyed by anyone. He just minded his own business.
Nothing flattering to look at for the women; or so I imagined. He was my senior but very humble. For want of a kinder word, Mathew was uninteresting.
However, the hated first term was upon us and it was athletics season again. It was the season where the people who were the talk of the school were not us the so-called good looking boys, nor the good looking girls, nor the intelligent nerds. This was the season for the athletes and marathon runners to shine.
Their athleticism and machismo would win attention ahead of our spoilt and less tedious vain gifts.
It was time for Tepatepa the marathon champion to shine. He was slim built much in the model of a terminator creation. Modeled for the runner’s terrain and with his Afro, Tepatepa was a sure bet to always win the marathon and everybody had resigned themselves to the fact that they would have to play catch-up every time.
The marathon was such that we were expected to run around the school in what was something of a five mile effort. There were points along the way where one would pick up a ticket with a particular colour and by the end of the marathon, one would have to produce all five differently coloured tabs to prove that they will have completed the marathon.
Old Makuyana the headmaster was so strict on the running of the marathon (as he was about literally everything) that anyone who did not complete it would be subject to serious punishment or even caning!
We went on the marathon and by the time we the lazy people arrived the question we all asked was whether Tepatepa had broken his own qualifying time and who had come in after him in second position.
It was to our surprise that we were told Tepatepa’s running prowess and reign at the helm had been ended and of all people, by the unassuming Mathew Makazhu!
It was a shock.
Makazhu had suddenly become the talk of the school and an emergency meeting at assembly was called for where the results were announced and Makazhu suddenly became deified. He was a god of the marathon.
He would represent the school in Harare alongside Tepatepa whom he had beaten into second position in the pantheon of athletic gods.
That whole weekend the girls had no time for Robert or Tatenda or Alvin-Lee and Tawanda Marufu at the radios session. The handsome boys were nothing this weekend. They wanted to dance with Makazhu, the winner. And how we hated him and seethed with anger at this new girl-magnet.
Makazhu was news at assembly once again come Monday and the headmaster went on and on about how hard work and dedication can reveal hidden talents.
Makazhu had discovered his magic at running!
Right after lunch, there was talk that something was wrong with the Makazhu story and we were all asked to report to the school assembly point.
Old Makuyana was angry and declared that Makazhu would not be representing Msengezi in Harare after all!
And let it be known that for a farm school where the newspaper hardly came and far from the city lights, Harare was the Holy Grail of destinations, but I digress.
As it turned out, of course Makazhu had all the five various coloured tabs at the end of the race but he was a cheat.
A day scholar who had missed the marathon told on Makazhu. Apparently Mathew Makazhu had paid a cyclist to ferry him and he would alight before the points, collect his coloured card, run off from the point and get back on the bicycle carrier as the paid ‘driver’ laboured towards the next point!
Quickly, Makazhu, who had been greater than Alexander the Great, had suddenly fallen from grace. He was stripped of his ‘Msengezi Chivalry Knighthood’ and Tepatepa got his just reward for honesty.
But boarding is such a skewered place.
No sooner had Makazhu been dethroned from the list of greats as dictated by the girls of Msengezi, we the boys who had loathed him for his girl-appeal the weekend through began touting him as a hero who had almost beaten the system through a plan of sheer genius.
From that day onwards, Makazhu became a schemer-par-excellence, the object of fable and legend in Msengezi High School.
Yes, we indeed decided to crown him, Mathew Makazhu the great! Some wonder how I got to be tangled with such people who would always outdo themselves in notoriety and ingenious invention. Even I wonder how I got to be in such company! For that question I have a simple answer…
My life is a dog’s life…but somebody’s got to live it!


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