Freedom Day should be painted YELLOW

On the 27th of April 2013, South Africa will be painted YELLOW or GOLDISH if you like.

That will be due to the honour of football legend Kaizer Motaung. The man who painted millions of South Africans in gold and black is set to join the premium list of citizens bestowed with one of the highest honours by the post 1994 South African state.

The Kaizer Chiefs Football Club boss, Motaung, was yesterday featured among the list of citizens to be honored on Freedom Day under the National Orders. His, is the Order of Ikhamanga.

Kaizer Motaung 4

The maestro Kaizer Motaung: Boss of Kaizer Chiefs Football Club

The 69 years old Motaung is one of the special six set to receive from President Jacob Zuma the Order of Ikhamanga. The order recognises South African citizens who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport. The other five are Chad Le Clos, Ilse Hayes, Vusi Mahlasela, Zolani Mkiva and Pretty Yende.

In Motaung’s case, the honour is packed with rich symbolism. The title of the honour is derived from the Xhosa name of a uniquely beautiful plant, Ikhamanga, the Strelitzia. It is generally described as a genus of five species which are native to South Africa. In most cases Ikhamanga yields yellowish flowers as if the gods were foretelling how the 27th of April 2013 was to become. Make no mistake, on that day South Africa is bound to feel yellow under the multitudes of Kaizer Chiefs supporters, the largest cultural club South Africa has ever seen.

In certain corners, in lighter moments that is, Motaung’s football club is said to be de facto government of South Africa. That is because it is estimated to boast a far bigger membership number than the country’s ruling party, the ANC. Estimations have it that Kaizer Chiefs’ support base can cover about one third of the South African population. The numbers behind Kaizer Chiefs and the meticulous management explain the flourishing business underlining the club. The business model will make every merchandiser worth their salt to drool to death. That is why financial services giants, like Hollard and Standard Bank and Nissan have lined up bowl in hand at the Kaizer Chiefs Village in Naturena.

The story behind the evolution of Kaizer Chiefs under the guidance of Motaung is marvelous and invokes to the mind the positioning of Ikhamanga, otherwise known as a bird of paradise. Ikhamanga earned the title “bird of paradise” due to its tendencies to bloom into a position that makes it look like a bird, the Blue Crane to be precise. What better way is there to recognise the flight of a fine social entrepreneur? Motaung’s contribution into football institutions and development is unrivalled. The Black Business Executive Council knows this and so decided to honor Motaung with its 2013 Chairman’s Award which added to a tally of such in Motaung’s cabinet.


Ikhamanga: The bird of paradise used to name one of SA’s orders, the Order of Ikhamanga

Football, dear reader, lives in the cultural arena. More often than not football has served as a glue that holds, recreate if you like, communities. After apartheid had obliterated the very foundation of social institutions, football culture played a critical role in recreating a social succour for multitudes of black South Africans.

Motaung saw the social need in the late 1960’s and launched Kaizer Chiefs in 1970. That came after a superb tenure on the field which earned him a powerful num de guerre, Chincha Guluva. Coming out of South Africa’s rich lingua franca which can translate to smooth operator, the title captured the slickness of Motaung which also wowed the Americans in the 1960’s.

Motaung plied his football skills in the US for the Atlanta Chiefs in the 60s. He then took the latter part and combined it with his name to come up with Kaizer Chiefs. The club is affectionately known as Amakhosi across South Africa, a Zulu word meaning chiefs. It is a well deserved title given the record of the club. While it joined the professional soccer arena 33 years after its arch rival Orlando Pirates was established, Kaizer Chiefs stands as the most successful football club in South Africa on all accounts. That is despite the dry spell of the past few years. But even that might come to an end in this season of the South African premier league.

As things stand Kaizer Chiefs stands a good chance to claim the premier league title which will make it a magnificent double for Motaung when he ascends to claim the Order of Ikhamanga. On the 27th of April, many of us, including the black and whites, who have envied Kaizer Chiefs’ victories will have a chance to taste glory. We will be justified to be spotted in black and gold. Even the black, green and gold combination might be stunted on that day.

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