A mate of mine once drew my attention to the fact that very few Mzansi footballers still get their nicknames from the fans they entertain or worse, they get named after medium-rare players in Europe when extremely attractive and more befitting options were available locally. Gone are the days when Diski players went by names like, “Master Pieces”, “Mokoko”, “Computer”, “Chincha Guluva”, “Kalamazoo”, “Chippa”, “Midnight Express”, “Sailor”, “Chukwu Train”, “16v”, “Magents” or “Go-Man-Go”; now we have players who are nicknamed Vieira while playing at left fullback… Imagine Jacob “Bobo” Lekgetho being called “Parlour” when he was neither British nor a central midfield player, the lack of creativity displayed these days when adorning our beloved footballers with nicknames is bordering on the pandemic level. Yet there are still a few names in our local Diski realm that have kept that unique Mzansi culture of having a true and significant meaning behind them, More Than A Name aims to enlighten all and sundry on some of the nicknames that still have a Mzansi stamp on them, enjoy and share.
Although it was not traditionally considered a hub for football lovers, the little unventilated television room that housed many football loving individuals from different walks of life on any given match day was the perfect setting for history to be written; as supporters, rivals and neutrals alike sat down on whatever surface they could find to watch a football legend paint artworks with a diski while once again proving that there are few players in the entire football realm that can measure up to him, one man made a statement that would go onto amuse many and intrigue many more for years to come. As the dreadlocked creation of beauty wove past markers with ease as he barely looked up before picking out an advanced teammate with yet another pass of pure quality, Mtshepan smiled and exclaimed, “Mr. Congeniality, Beyoncé my Beyoncé!”; thus a befitting nickname was born… When asked to explain what he meant by that statement, after the shock and awe had subsided, Mtshepan was calm as he once again smiled and elaborated on how Reneilwe was very rarely crowned Prom King yet anybody who understood football knew he was deserving of that title, so if not Prom King then Beyoncé had to be crowned Mr. Congeniality by a landslide; he is simply the purists choice for any award, he is Beyoncé. It’s no secret that “Yeye”, as many call him, is not a great fan of the name Beyoncé but where would the football world be if we threw away a perfectly good nickname because somebody doesn’t like it? Edward “Hlasela Mafutha” Manqele might still be a few kilos too heavy if that appropriate name was not used when it was, I say that to say this, Beyoncé is more than just a nickname for a great football player, it’s a story of how appreciation can be displayed through so many different ways that are uniquely South African and relative to our Diski; Beyoncé is an identity. Congeniality in itself is an honourable trait to possess, as the world seems to get more depraved by the second, it’s good to have established football icons that still exude that warmth and friendliness regardless of their success levels or accolades; Beyoncé may not go down as the greatest player of his generation and I for one can live with that because even though he will not be crowned Prom King at the end of the night, Beyoncé won the Mr. Congeniality title before the votes were even counted and Bob ndi malume wanu mate.