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A tribute to one of our own

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‘Vusi introduced me to all these skelms, big okes of the time.’

This humble despatch takes a slight detour today to honour one of our own who once trod this earth and clanged out reams of sports-related messages for your gratification, but has since departed, Vusi Ike Tukakhomo is top of mind.

I hesitate to say I knew the man. Upon his passing, those who once shared a workspace with him over many moons felt bold enough to say he was a legend. Indeed. I too think he was one of a kind. I have the small consolation from the many who followed his writings on this platform who tell me, ever so politely, that I take after him, at least insofar as our humble daily pursuits are concerned at this press.

But I favour best the words of his childhood friend who stayed in touch with bro Vusi into their later adulthood who spoke about their lives together as youngsters and later family men.

The speaker; Msibi Mothibi and the late Tukakhomo are die-hard Old Greenpoint citizens. This is an old town development situated south-east of Kimberley’s central business district. I suppose when they were in their nappies the place was by then a strapping diamond mining town of note.

Mothibi said he and Vusi went all over the place as young men. One such place was the “big, bad” gold mining town of Johannesburg. Now Vusi was an upcoming journalist at the time and because of this he often took Mothibi to football venues over there. Because of Vusi’s connection with the papers of the time they were let in at the stadia at no charge and such places, much to Mothibi’s amusement.

Vusi also did another thing. That was to introduce Mothibi to most of the ‘notorious and mean’ characters of the Joburg football world. In this way, he (Mothibi) met the likes of Boy Baard Nhlapo, a ‘notorious’ character as well as Russia Jacob, a legend of sorts who was linked to Moroka Swallows football club and later Orlando Pirates. 

“Vusi introduced me to all these skelms, big okes of the time,” Mothibi said.

I can quite imagine the scenario. Tukakhomo was generally a peaceful character who much preferred to stay in the background rather than be the light of the party. So putting him in one room with these colourful characters required a few mental shifts on my part.

Mothibi himself was a book of sorts. Merely listening to him telling the stories about him and Vusi was an experience.  

Vusi once came up to him and confided that he was going away to Pretoria to visit an aspirant fiancée. In typical Kimberlite lingo Mothibi says, “Toe kom Vusi terug en hy sê daai ousie het hom geskiet.” 

It’s not as scary as it sounds. Mothibi meant his friend was dumped by the lady.

This fun-filled rendition of Tukakhomo’s life was further embellished upon by another football legend in his own right, Bro Peter ‘Squash’ Dithebe. He tells the equally amusing incident of Tukakhomo conducting an interview with him. He noticed that instead of writing the journalist was drawing squiggles on his notepad. Out of concern, he asked Tukakhomo: “How are you going to remember all that I said?” 

Vusi reassured him that he should not worry as all what he had said will be in the paper. As an old hand, Tukakhomo was probably using shorthand which is a type of sparse, quick writing invented by the print industry.

Now at the memorial for Tukakhomo the 75-year-old bro Squash felt compelled to correct a historical error, namely the score between then Dalton Brothers and Bafana United of Cape Town. It is generally rendered as 10-0 in favour of the Capetonians. 

Dithebe said, “Nope, not so, the right score was 11-1.”  

Salang.