Clive Malunga

I could have become a footballer.

My mother was born and bred in Shurugwi. Her parents worked at Gwenhoro Farm which was owned by the late Rhodesian Prime Minister, Ian Douglas Smith. That was where my father met my mother and they got married.

I come from a family of five children, three girls and two boys. My two elder sisters were born in Shurugwi but my late elder brother, my younger sister and I were born at Norton Hospital. My parents were now working at Kingsdale Farm. My parents were both employed by Mr. Valley, a white farmer who owned Kingsdale Farm and was renowned for maize and tobacco growing. My father worked as a cook while my mother was a nanny. My mother looked after the farmer’s three children Nolly, Leon and Windy.

Both my father and mother gave me noticeable preferential treatment to the other kids. Rather than their favouritism putting a wedge between me and my siblings or leading to intense sibling rivalry, it had a positive effect on my relationship with my sisters and brother. Everyone in the family exceptionally poured their love on me and I became very close to all of them. It is said that I showed behaviour and maturity beyond my age. I am told that at age three, I was so humorous that I would keep both children and adults around me laughing.

When I was born my father wanted to give me the name, “Trouble ” but my mother said my name should be Peter. A tug-of-war about a suitable name ensued between my parents. Owing to their failure to agree on a name, I ended up being called “Boy” from birth until I was six years old. At six, they had to acquire a birth certificate for me in preparation for my admission at school. In the end, my mother prevailed by giving me the name Clive.

During weekends, my father would go playing a card gambling game called makasa at nearby farm compounds such as Mutuvha, Mutipitipi, Kachara and Mashumba. He enjoyed gambling and drinking beer. My mother would go with me to the farm compounds to sell aprons and kids dresses. She owned a Singer machine and she taught herself to sew. She was a very clever woman who could speak Lapalapa, Nyanja, Ndebele and Shona fluently.

Whenever we reached a farm compound, my mother would enquire from farm workers where a traditional beer gathering would be that particular weekend. At the beer gatherings, people would be drinking beer and dancing to South African music. My mother would ask me to dance for the audience and I would dance to the most popular songs of that time. I remember hits like Lilizela Mlilizeli, Uyavutha Umlilo, Stockfel Jive and Nina Majuba all by Mahlathini and Mahotela Queens. South African music was very popular during the Rhodesian era. Many people would come to watch the five-year-old agile and indefatigable dancer. I danced beautifully and was not shy at all. People would throw some coins on the dance floor as an appreciation of my dancing skills. At that same moment, my mother would start selling aprons and girls’ dresses to women who would have gathered at the compound.

On the way home, my mother would teach me how to sing gospel songs which we would end up singing together very often.

Most houses at the farm compounds were grass thatched and would have a thatched barricade called Mupanda in Shona. Our house was between 500m and 600m away from Mr. Valleys house. It was a three bedroomed house built from common bricks and had a corrugated roof. We grew up eating very good food which my father would get as left overs from the white farmer’s breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Every Christmas, the farm workers and their families would come to the farmer’s house singing jiti songs, for Norton is in a part of Zimbabwe dominated by the Zezuru ethnic group which is famed for originating jiti music. The farmer would come out of his house with his family holding many packets of sweets. He would throw the sweets in the air and the farm workers would fall on each other trying to get as many as possible. I guess the white farmer and his family enjoyed seeing people stampeding for the sweets. However, I suppose it would have been better and more decent if he would pack the sweets in smaller packets for distribution to the workers as Christmas presents.

In 1970, when I was in grade 3, my family moved from the farm to Katanga. As soon as we settled in Katanga Township, I joined the Norton Youth Club which was managed by a welfare officer called Mr. Chigariro. I started learning how to play a box guitar and later joined a group of young aspiring musicians called the Young Shadows which was a brain child of veteran musician Mr. Jackson Phiri of the famous Limpopo Jazz Band. We used to play copy songs from the Hurricanes, Otis Redding, A-Ha, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.

I also joined the Norton Youth Club under 12 soccer team. I became very popular as a soccer player. During my days in the Norton Youth Club soccer team, I remember playing matches where we competed against great soccer players like the late Stanley Sinyo Ndunduma, the late Leon Ndunduma and the late Joel Jubilee Shambo, all from Mufakose Youth Club. By the time I reached Grade 7 at the age of 14, I had qualified to join Norton United Football Club first team, which was in the First Division. I was the youngest player in the team, playing as a right winger or number 7. Our coach was Mr. Zidenga and he promoted me to the senior team after a recommendation from Mr. Steve Kwashi who had come to Norton on national coaching duties. We played against teams such as Hartley Pirates, Gatooma United, BAT Ramblers, Hunyani Pulp and Paper United and Mhangura United.

I then made a life-defining decision to stop playing soccer and join a music band because with music you don’t usually face career threatening injuries as common in soccer. Even with no injuries, the career of a footballer is very short-lived because you slow down as you get older. On the other hand, the older you become in music, the more mature you get and the better the pieces of music you produce. I have been a committed musician since then.