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Jirvas Gwanzura gets Marvelous Nakamba's attention during Luton Town's victory parade.


Marvelous Nakamba brings meaning to the Zimbabwean way of life in Luton




LUTON is very special place for Zimbabweans, for many of us settled here during the first waves of immigration to the United Kingdom.

So, the analogy of “The Seven Ages of Man” is a good introductory point of this Zimbabwean Lutonians story I’m sharing with you in The NewsHawks.

Telling a story of a young man whose dreams were shattered at a schoolboy age and in his melancholy became spiritual, finding his peace and revival in choral music at a local Anglican Church. A place where he found a new family that imparted Christian values to his broken heart and soul.

Such is the background of my move from the soils that raised me to the United Kingdom and becoming a young father.

As per the analogy noted in the preamble, I had to be a soldier early as I had no time to be a lover but a very young father in a foreign land where dynamics were different from most Zimbabwean social settings.

Fortunately my new home was to be a town not so far from the UK capital London, called Luton. In this town there was a growing network of Zimbabweans, in spite of uncertainties of being a foreigner and our nature of being reserved and respectful.

Looking back, I am grateful that it was Luton that fate took me to, as my new home is a place that values diversity and difference. Our cultural and religious values are respected, although we have had to prune some of our bad habits which are taken seriously by the colourful town that welcomed and embraced us and its laws.

It is in Luton where I finally had my knee reconstruction and a couple of less serious surgeries on both knees allowing me to get involved in social football, where I connected with some former footballers who had moved to Luton.

Many Zimbabweans in the UK have a connection with Luton that when Marvelous Nakamba joined the local team in the Championship, the bond intensified. Most Zimbabweans I know are now behind the football team due to our history and the Nakamba factor.

A sense of pride because Luton welcomed us with open arms, and allowed us to make it our new home away from our beloved Zimbabwe.

The other source of our pride is the conduct of Nakamba at Luton Town FC, where he is an absolute darling. We are glowing with pride as we are well represented by Nakamba. This is why I see his success as a glossy finish applied to the image of a Zimbabwean in Luton and any connected to it.

I attended the open bus parade on Sunday and I met a lot of Zimbabweans. What was touched me was the fact that some were people I would not call football fans. The exploits of the team’s achievements with our boy attracted people beyond the sport and brought Luton closer together and revitalised the sense of pride and belonging. That moment when social media dramas that dent our image are overpowered by the goodness of sport. I hope that Marve stays, but if he goes, I know the young man from my home is forever a hero in Luton. They do not forget his kind in these parts of England.

In conclusion I say Zimbabweans all over the world, let us stay connected and be supportive of each other. Let us invest more in elevating each other rather than break each other. May God bless you all! May God bless our Zimbabwe! TOGETHER WE RISE!

*Guest columnist Jirvas ‘Jirvaldo’ Munyaradzi Gwanzura has lived in Luton since 2002. He was a keen footballer back in the days at Churchill High School in Harare. He is the founder of 263Rise, which promotes music, arts and footballing talents.

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