Tribute to the memory of a lad who dreamed and lived radio

2017-03-16 06:03
The late radio broadcaster Lindani Bekwa

The late radio broadcaster Lindani Bekwa

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As little boys growing up, we had all sorts of ambitions.

Some wanted to become policemen, others wanted to be abelungu, still, many of us aspired to be the Michael Jacksons of this world. Thats what poverty does to you.

But, among us, there was only one person we all knew what he’d become.

He was destined to become a radio man. He showed his potential as early as primary school. He would imitate sports radio commentators from dawn till dusk.

Even when we were out in the veld herding cattle, he would go on like a siren. But the odd fact was that in his imaginary games, only Kaizer Chiefs would be playing.

That person was Lindani Bekwa. Sadly, he has passed on.

In his staged commentaries, the ball would move from Garry Bailey to Ace Ntsolengoe right down to Marks Maponyane scoring, with virtually no mention of the opposition.

Occasionally Bazooka Sishweni and Bashin Mahlangu would make cameo appearances. He earned himself the name of Mpelesi. The popular joke was that he had swallowed a small radio when he was a baby!

The only moment he didn’t talk was when he was eating, and I have fond memories of sharing umthubi with him and his elder brother, Simthembile.

The two were quite close in age and were naturally treated as twins. However, they had different interests, Simthembile loved driving (he drove at age 13 or so) and Lindani loved soccer, but they supported each other.

Much as he had great passion for soccer, he was never the best of footballers. He was part of the visionaries who, during the mid-eighties when many of us were just loafing around during the school boycotts, decided to form a soccer club to keep us away from trouble.

He was the captain of Santos, but his influence and leadership skills went beyond the team. He served in the executive of Grasa(Grahamstown Soccer Association). We called him Marks, until he and his brother went to the mountain. They went to the mountain together, having separate huts because of the perception that siblings ought to be separated to evade rivalry. They left the other hut empty, and as Lindani’s nqalathi, I turned the other hut into a kitchen.

We had the radio and magazines as our primary sources of entertainment. We would both read an article and discuss it afterwards. The same applied with current affairs. He had an analytical mind and a photographic memory.
On the occasion of a rally to welcome back OR Tambo, Mzwakhe Mbuli recited what was supposedly a poem.

After the occasion, Lindani recited the same poem verbatim. In 1996 when I was a student at Fort Hare, he was telling me different stories relating to current affairs.

Just as I was asking him where he got all the news from, he said “Ziphela apho iindaba zethu, mawethu.” It was only then that I realised I had slept without switching off the radio, but the voice that I had heard was distinctly his.

That’s how I knew radio had finally found him. I heard that voice for another twenty years on Umhlobo Wenene and he had earned a lot of respect as a newsreader.

He was the pride of Emacangcini, the pride of Xhosa speakers and the pride of the nation. We had moments of laughter, and we had moments of sadness.

When I visited him in December, he was in a bad condition. I went to see him last month, he was feeling better, talking about going back to work. He missed radio. Farewell Zotsho, Ngutyana.

.Mahala is the author of When A Man Cries,


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