Whisper From Southern Africa Column

By Peter Kanjere

Mabedi proves Talent is nothing without Discipline..

South Africans are a proud people. They walk and talk with an air of superiority and treasure their culture, you get an impression that they treat anything foreign with contempt.

Decades of apartheid did not help the cause of the South Africans, with the poor blaming everything to do with their suffering on the apartheid regime.

If you have read books on Steve Biko, Nelson and Winnie Mandela, the central theme is the same— struggle against oppressive superior race seeking to dominate a land that was never theirs in the first place. Nothing sums up that struggle more than Sarafina movie.

Julius Malema is just the latest opportunist playing the populist card that resonates well with the emotions of majority of South Africans who are struggling with increasing unemployment and economic marginalisation.

Therefore, to some South Africans, the sight of a foreigner is like that of a Palestine in Israel. Somehow, there are still many foreigners, including Malawians such as Patrick Mabedi who have found their niche in the cut-throat world of competition in South Africa.

Close to 30 years since Jack Chamangwana capped his illustrious playing career by being appointed Kaizer Chiefs’ caretaker coach, Mabedi matched that feat when he took charge of the Glamour Boys for the first time on Tuesday night during a league game against Golden Arrows.

The game did not go according to fairytale script for the clean-shaven Mabedi as Chiefs, after being reduced to 10 men, lost 3-1 to Arrows. But from a Malawian’s perspective, for the former Flames captain to be thrust to the helm of the giant of African football was no mean achievement.

Mabedi might not get the ultimate permanent job as Chiefs are on the market head-hunting a permanent manager, but it might take decades for another Malawian to scale these heights.

It is a reward for hard-work and discipline for Mabedi who, throughout his career right from Nyasa Big Bullets, has always refused to give up on his dream.

It took close to half a decade for Mabedi to earn promotion to Bullets main team and it took years for him to win over Chiefs faithful until they surrendered the armband to him. It was not easy for Mabedi to earn the armband in a then star-studded Chiefs line-up that had finer talents such as Thabo Mooki, Doctor Khumalo, John Moshoeu, Brian Baloyi and Jabu Pule.

While many talented Malawians return home from foreign land over petty issues such as harsh weather, absence of nsima and poor perks, Mabedi has never given up in South Africa.

For all his own goals, red cards and limited talent, Mabedi conquered all adversity with sheer grit, discipline and hard-work and climb to the top.

The moral of Mabedi’s story is that you do not talent to make it in life but discipline and hard-work can prevail over any shortcoming.

Underutilise talents of Gift Zakazaka, Grant Lungu, Robin Ngalande, John Zilinde, Andrew Chikhosi, James Chimera, Shilton Zuze, McDonald Yobe, Peter Mgangira, Prince Cihana, deceased Christopher John Banda, Chikondi Banda, Dereck Chisekula and Tony Chitsulo prove that talent minus discipline is nothing in a football career.

Malawi football will never develop if local scouts overemphasise on dribbling and stylish passing when selecting up-and-coming players while disregarding aspects such as physical attributes and discipline.  A coach can improve a talentless player but there is nothing one can do to a huge talent with a bad temperament.


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