BY CHARLES MABIKA, Special Correspondent

Renowned sports administrator Ndumiso Gumede died just before Christmas.

ALTHOUGH his heart and soul belonged to Highlanders Football Club, his total passion for Zimbabwe’s sport, academic, arts and culture embodied an undying penchant and support for the participants in these industries.

That’s why some of us called him Yours Truly.

Ndumiso Gumede, a larger-than-life character is gone, after succumbing to a stroke, barely two days before the start of the New Year and exactly a week after Bosso had hosted a function to celebrate his contribution to the Bulawayo football giant’s successes since his involvement with them during his entire life.

Scores gathered to give the much loved administrator a a befitting send off.

Gumede the teacher. Gumede the football referee. Gumede the theatre, radio and film actor and comedian.
Gumede the football administrator                .  . .  correction: Gumede the FINEST football administrator ever produced in Zimbabwe.

All the above attributes were performed with absolute authenticity, knowledge, vigour and professionalism.
Whether he was holding a piece of chalk before a class of boys and girls at Highfield Secondary or Mzilikazi Secondary schools, Yours Truly or Gumz – as some preferred to call him — would be a fountain of knowledge and humour as he shared his vast information of the world’s riches, ills, statistics and progressions to every one of his students.

It was the same case when he preached his favourite game’s gospel .  .  .  always delivered in his customary articulate and eloquent demeanour.

Hate? Gumede didn’t know the meaning of that word. To him, love was the antidote to everything because every Dynamos, CAPS United, Herentals, Chegutu Pirates, Bulawayo City, Gweru United, Kwekwe Cables, Golden Valley or Dalny Mine supporter, player and official were bound by the unquenched thirst  for their world’s No. 1 sport’s activities.
When it came to theatre . . . oh boy, like Randy Bachman and his Turner Overdrive’s 70s outfit sang: “You Ain’t Seen Nuthin Yet”.

For in theatre, Yours Truly was at his very best. He could deliver a spellbinding performance as a rogue policeman, church pastor, marriage counsellor or jealous husband in an electrifying, confident and hypnotic manner.

He could also give any audience a captivating rendition of any song, be it rock ‘n roll, ballad, blues or soul.
I remember during one of the Warriors excursions back in the early 2000s when he was also in the travelling party as a ZIFA official to Cameroon where I was part of the travelling journalists covering the away tie. On the eve of the match, we were relaxing in one of the hotel’s entertainment areas where the resident band was playing.

And in a flash, after the band had finished a song and were ready to embark on a new one, Gumede just sprang from his seat and waltzed to the stage; had a few words with the band members before belting out the immortal Spanish folklore hit song “Guantanamera” before bemused patrons who, after the crackling vocals from Gumz had died down, all rose up in applause and screamed for an encore. But he didn’t do it again, as he shook hands with everyone and smiled all the way back to where we were all seated.

That was Ndumiso Gumede for you. He lit up any occasion he was at . . . indoors or outdoors, at a football stadium or during a business conference. I should have been at his December 22 bash after he personally invited me but couldn’t attend because of a family bereavement the previous day back in the capital.

But I was delighted to hear about the fanfare from Auntie Cecilias Mudzana, a local women’s football official who was there as she narrated to me how Gumedee was the life of the party .  .  .  as always.

Yours Truly might have left us down here in the land of the living but I but I think thousands of sport, academic, arts and culture students and officials are rupturing their lungs in unstoppable laughter and enjoyment to his theatrics and words of love and wisdom up there.
Go well Yours Truly. You were and will remain the best.