Late Nqolobe leaves a dark cloud

2015-10-22 06:00

Chainpuller Nqolobe is gone.

family album

Chainpuller Nqolobe is gone. PHOTO: family album

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City Vision’s own obituarist, Patrick “Chainpuller” Nqolobe, has himself, passed on.

A giant tree has fallen, nay, since he did not belong to the Rhadebe clan, it is a phrase we have to be careful about.

He belonged to the Dlamini clan, and one of the exultations go thus; Fakade.

This means that although death is inevitable, the Dlaminis would have us believe that they are possessed of a genealogy that makes them live longer than other mere mortals.

A dark cloud had descended on Langa.

As news of his death spread, a collective mood of grief seemed to envelop every household, especially among the elderly and young adults who have come to know him as a sports icon, a bearer of arms for proper cultural and traditional practices.

Soon his house was flooded with would be mourners, more because the spectre of a lifeless “Bra Chain”, was just not a possibilty.

If the metaphor of a giant tree falling could be taken to its proper meaning in the context of this giant, perhaps the demise of a “living institution” would be more apt, if it is referred to Nqolobe. Sports Hero

Bra Chain was one of the great sporting giants of his era to emerge from Langa and the Western Cape.

He excelled in soccer, rugby, tennis and athletics. He would always tell his younger friends that it was their duty to develop, mentor and nurture the next generation of talented boys and girls.

Bra Chain had a long history with sports in Langa.

Former teammate Victor Masepe, and one of the founders of the Spes Bona FC in Langa, paid a glowing tribute to Nqolobe.

Masepe first came across Nqolobe in his younger day p;laying soccer for his primary school, St Louis. They later came across again when Nqolobe was playing rugby now for Langa High School.

Then they had a formidable rugby team that consisted of the likes of Norman Mbiko.

Nqolobe was rather notorious to opponents as a skillful and evasive left wing that left many of them wiyh only a pair of sprinting heels.

According to those in the know, it was a formidable Langa High Sportsmaster, Mr Ntloko, who groomed Nqolobe for greatness in the sport. Ntloko later became a headmaster at ID Mkhize High School in Gugulethu.

Masepe mentioned that Nqolobe was very fortunate to have been eposed to sport at a tender age, due to his huge body.

He even played professionally for Young Ideas, which was then playing in a professional league. After the professional league went bust, a new club, called Bafana FC was formed.

This was also during the time of Spes Bona FC, which was formed in 1966, and comprised of players students form the local school, a colleges and a university.

In a game between Black Swallows and Langa High School in 1963, it is said that it was Nqolobe who told the coach that they should not replace the equally hefty but now injured John Sipamla with the puny Moda Ntshoko. “Ubhitye kakhulu kuno John”, he is said to have instructed the coach.

Despite the downgrading, Nqolobe and Ntshoko became lifelong friends. They even went to circumcission school together.

It is a fact that Nqolobe was possesed of a dangerous tackle in soccer circles because of his rugby background.

In a game between Kaizer Chiefs and Spes Bona FC in 1972, chain tackled Kaizer Motaung very hard and the latter had to be carried off the field. In a game between Spes Bona and Bafana or Black Swallows FC, it became a ritual for spectators to start arriving in the field six hours before kick-off, because of space.

The likes of Messers Qunta, Mshumpela, Fassie, Silas, Tindleni and Mkhize are accredited with shaping the skills of a young Nqolobe.

Legend has it that after Langa High School, he went to study at Mariazela where they started the first ever rugby team that consisted exclusively of soccer players.

Later on he went to study at Healdtown College, where he became regarded as a superstar in rugby. His rugby mates included the likes of Zamile Mahala, Sydney Metula, Mlungisi Mandlenkosi and Mongezi Memani. Their rugby team held an unbeaten record for over two years.

Nqolobe himself later taught at Langa High School and continued with the legacy of grooming rugby players-ala Mr Ntloko- who made a name for themselves in the sports.

He decided to leave teaching and worked in a managerial position together with Bruce Mbanga at Ok Bazaars; at a time when it was unheard of Black senior staff at a private company.

In his later years, he formed the Langa Sports Veterans Association with Victor Masepe, Ntsikelelo Vava, Mazwi Dlakiya and the late Zwelibanzi “Fisher” Galo.

At another level, Nqolobe became involved with community health issues.

He revived the Langa Health Forum, and became its chairperson, representing them at ward and city council meetings.

He was the brains behind the idea of forming a club for collecting and dispensing chronic medication for Nolungile Senior Citizens from Vanguard Day Hospital.

Nqolobe could not walk fast anymore and due to his age, he passed the baton to a youthful committee led by Rashied.

Cultural HeroIn cultural matters, he becane the face of Embo Initiation School, which is now regarded as a model school through-out the country, due his efforts of ensuring that the “mountain” is not a place of death, but an institution to groom the adults of tomorrow for the greater good os society.

In thei drive, he worked along with the likes of Faku Fesi, Tshisa, Alfred Magwaca, Mazwi Dlakiya, including the traditional nurses and surgeons.

He always reminded us that we should keep our hands washed clean before we start any work with an initiate. He made sure that the initiation site remained isolated from outsiders.

During his tenure as the chairperson of Langa Embo Initiation Council, he kept us together until he felt that it was time for him to hand over the reins to somebody else.

the Irishman Mazwi Dlakiya remembers that Nqolobe would introduces himself thus: ‘I’m Patrick and ‘I’m Irish– a man of many talents, names and caps.

“I know him as Tatomntu, Tuteyi, Chain-puller and Zizi or Dlamin. Chain had a selective memory choosing to remember things that happened in the late fifties and sixties vividly and in detail forgetting events that occurred yesterday.

That was evident in his writing about the fallen heroes and heroines of Langa. He was very passionate about Langa”

He would bemoan the fate of Langa people thus: “The Langa people think they are living in a first world suburban area, that is why they are watching other township socially and economically developing and Langa doing nothing. Langa people act like brigades as fire fighters, they are reactive’.

Nqolobe was also a councillor, representing the ANC in a ward in Malmesbury.

Many readers of City Vision will recall his obituaries of the great sports or community personalities in Langa who have passed on.

According to him, it was from his late brother-a journalist- that he learnt his writing skills from.

The brother was a reoprter with Imvo Iphepha Labantsudu.

It is said that it was again his eldest brother who encouraged him to win every game that he played in.

The inspiration was not far off, for his brother was also the brains behind the first Western Cape Football Association, which was then known as Nompumelelo Football Association. According to his family records, Patrick Nqolobe was born in August 1945. While teaching in Langa High School, in 1973, he met and married Virginia Ntombodidi, Mrwebi. They were blessed with five children of which only four remain.

His funeral will take place on Saturday October 24 also at the Roman Catholic Church, in Langa, at 09:00

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