This January 26, 2020 marks the first anniversary of the death of the football legend in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pierre Joseph NdayeMulambaMutumbula, who passed away a year ago at Sandton Clinic, in the suburb of Bryanston, in Johannesburg. His nine (9) goals in a single edition of the AFCON –African Cup of Nations in 1974 in Egypt placed him at the top of the scorers chart.He holds a yet to be broken record more than 45 years later that he sadly took with him when he was laid to rest on February 26, 2019 at Entre Ciel et Terre cemetery, in the administrative commune of N’Sele. On this grim day, the African Football Confederation failed to attend Ndaye’s funerals. No member of the continental football governing body or representative was not among the mass on the quicksand of the cemetery. Jeff M. Katala, Congolese Journalist based in South Africa, who accompanied Ndaye’s mortal remains on board of Congo Airways flight on February 24, 2019 bound for Kinshasa from Johannesburg, immortalized CAF senseless lack of respect, despite the enormous contribution of this prolific player, hailing from his native Kananga MalandiwaNshinga, former Luluabourg, to help building up CAF notoriety, which the body is benefiting from to date.
Five days prior to Ndaye’s remains repatriation, Jeff M Katala spearheaded an initiative amongst football fraternity in South Africa, to host and attend a church service in memory of Ndaye in Johannesburg on 19thFebruary 2019, only members of DR Congolese community living predominantly in Johannesburg were in attendance despite financial burdens the community faced.Ndaye’s woes continued to be entertained as no dignitary attended the service, not even a representative from the DRC Embassy in Pretoria. Benefit of the doubt would be given to SAFA for lack of information about the death of Ndaye. It is a certainty that SAFA President, Mr Danny Jordan would have intervened positively if the information was escalated to him. As Chairmanof Local Organising Committee for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, he paraded the former DR Congo striker alongside other African legends in the campaign to promote the world cup.
Although he is best known for having been the official top goal poacherat the Egyptian AFCON, the legacy of the legendary star is immensely disproportional compared tothe quality of the life he poorly enjoyed. In addition to this pedigree, Mustang was also one of the architects of the BanayaVeya team which won the only continental trophy by AS V Club in African Cup of Champions Clubs (the ancestor of the current Champions League) in 1973 against Kotoko of Kumasi (2-4; 3-0) alongside captain KibongeMafu, Tubilandu, LobiloBoba, Luyeye, Kondi, Ricky Mavuba, MaufrancMambwene, Garry Ngasebe, AdélarMayangaMaku, Jean KemboUbaKembo and TumbaPouce , under the lateYvonKalambayi as coach. This is the epic of the Continental Score; which is to say that any African team that would go to Kinshasa shall lose by 3-0. StadeMalien, Leopard Douala and Kotoko paid the price. And thanks to this psychological advantage V Club won this African Cup of Clubs in 1973 against the Kumasi team by 3-0, avenging Mazembe who was beaten two years earlier by this same Kotoko at the Stade du 20 Mai. Volvo (one of his many nicknames), is co-author of the double Championship-National Cup won by V Club in 1972, 1973 and 1975.
If it turns out that the swan seriousnessis judged by the way he sings, an accidental death has become worthy of a praise and tribute than a naturally caused death! During the penultimate weekend of all CAF club competitions for the 2018-2019 season, everyone remained motionless and stand still for a minute before any game, in stadiums around Africa, to pay a poignant tribute to Hussein Swaleh, CAF Match Commissioner from Kenya who perished in a plane crash in Addis Ababa, shortly after takeoff, killing everyone on the Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi. Victor Marah, the Sierra Leonean referee who collapsed and was declared dead while officiating, received another duly paid homage. Hussein’s life was far from being a peaceful, unethically speaking. His involvement in the age-related cheating scandal which resulted in a ban before this ban could be overturned by CAF in circumstances which have not yet been clarified. Conversely, NdayeMulambe died as he lived, in indescribable plebeian impoverishment, without particular recognition, apart from the invitation by CAF to attend the final phase of the Tunisian AFCON in 1994; an invitation that will always haunt him, even in his afterlife world. Upon his return from Tunis following the completion of AFCON, he was looted, badly beaten and left for dead by armed robbers who claimed money supposedly given by CAF.Ndaye lost his 11-year-old son in the process. He decided to quit DRC for southerly voyage that saw Volvo reaching South Africa, it was a doomed mission. He lacked shelter and ended being accommodated by Mr Pierre NzuziTshilunga – Mama NzuziwaMbombo’s brother, for many years: “I am happy here (in Khayelitsha); I have freedom – true freedom.”. A priestly creed for a famous footballer, a legend who had an unworthy and ominous end; someone who was honoured in his country, who is recognized worldwide, how could he have been forsaken in this way?
The filmmaker MakelePululu met him in the early 2000s, and in 2009 he offered to shoot the Ndaye storytelling documentary about his life, so that he would reap substantial financial rewards for his sustainability. Pululu convinced Rainbow Circle Films to invest in the production. During the shooting that same year, MulambaNdaye met Danny Jordaan, the Chairman of the local organizing committee for the 2010 World Cup, as well as the vice-president of SAFA (Federation of South African Football Association), MweloNonkonyana in their campaign to promote the World Cup in Africa. Ndaye was invited to the World Cup draw in Cape Town, and attended the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Johannesburg. Moved by this recognition, he attended the opening match at Soccer City in Soweto, Johannesburg. The Organizing Committee had organized three VIP tickets for him as well as accommodation in a 5-star hotel. Ndaye was on all the football invitations before the World Cup kicked off, so he was invited to a gala in Johannesburg where he met some of the players who plied their trade during his time including the Ivorian Laurent Pokou – The Man from Asmara and Osei Kofi from Ghana.
Having been one of the very first football players managers (non-agent) for Congolese nationals in South Africa, if he was not the first, around 1993-1999, Jeff M. Katala had the privilege of meeting the legend; Ndaye was unstoppable as he narrates his epics around meals they use to have together or during the English Premier League on television in his living room; especially the fetishistic practices and the momentary loss of memory byMwepu (he left the wall and kicked the ball away prior to the whistle) against Brazil in Germany at the World Cup 1974. Jeff says he was amazed by the gigantic amount of red pepper (pili-pili or chilies) that the former member of AS Bantou and US Tshinkunku masterfully swallowed. For him, he added, pili-pili (lingala for chilies) is a vegetable. The three (3) bedroom apartment that Jeff Katala rented in Bellevue, next to Yeoville, was quickly transformed into a gathering place for all Congolese players playing in South Africa, amongst themBuneneNgaduane alias Ngondo, MamaleZorino, Baby LiswaNduti, PaulinWanga, BerioOkitakatshi, MerikaniPangi, PatyLokose, PeleweDelamongo, Pitchou Kanga, BotendeEtshele, Patrick Kazadi (son of the great shots stopper Kazadi of yesteryear ), the lateBakasu, Kidoda, KisombeMundabi alias Kunde, Etienne Sunda, the late Tomisi, PapyMangituka etc. His casual role as secretary to MuambaNozi in Johannesburg, Former FECOFA President, enabled him to take care of the logistics for Congolese teams in Johannesburg, either for training and transits or official games. This is how Jeff entertained the crop of players in 1996 when they played against South Africa in November 1996 (1-0 lost to SA) in the 1998 World Cup qualifiers in France, including captain Simba, Tokala, Kaskito, KorandoKasongo, Kimoto etc.
Going back to his roots, Ndaye, who could have signed for Paris Saint Germain in 1973,was awarded a monthly grant of U $ 500, 00 which stuttered to fall in regularity; FECOFA ensured its U $ 200, 00 pay more regularlyto other former leopards of 1968 and 1974. But Ndaye had another stream of income from the Kinshasa City Hall, allowing him to have a modest life, but not as in the past when all Moseka winners (name given to AFCON trophy won by Zaire in 1974) received plots of land and Passat cars, gifts from the PF –FP: Founding President.
He was repatriated to South Africa for medical emergency in September 2018 by the Congolese State through the Ministry of Sports. It was during this period that Jeff Katala met up with his daughter Divine Sylvie Ndaye who was at his bedside all the times. Weakened, sick, depressed and exhausted, mutumbula (for ghost in Tshiluba-his native language) could not take heed of Jeff presence. He lacks strength! His only prayer is to end all forms of suffering and plunge into deep, never to wake up again. His wish was exalted on January 26, 2019. The procession met FlorentIbenge, ex-coach of the Leopards, during the Lubumbashi stopover at Luano airport, waiting for a connecting flight bound for Kinshasa, after V Club had played against Lupopoin a league game. With Jeff Katala and Yves Balemo (representative of the Minister of Sports PapyNyango), they boarded the same flight to reach Kinshasa around midnight. Ibenge would be seen lowering Ndaye mortuary remains and engaging with Ndaye former teammates, who had gathered together to salute the memory of one of their own, on board of Congo Airways Airbus 320-220 plane, for the morgue of the Cinquantenaire hospital that they reached after 1:00 am on February 25, 2019.
But Ndaye neither hears nor sees when the new Chief of Staff in the Presidency, His Excellency Vital Kamerhe awards him with the Highest Medal of the land at the Palais du Peuple (DRC parliament house) in Kinshasa on February 26, 2019, under the folkloric traditional musical group’s rhapsody ofBayudas of Congo from Ndaye native region and the fanfare cadence thereof; which propelled the crowded room to pick up the fragments of different melodies in a harmony whose repertoire included the sounds of cymbals, timpani, xylophone and percussion accessories. The ceremony is solemn, punctuated by eulogies and funeral orations by dignitaries and political authorities of the Republic invited hereto, before the funeral procession sets off along Boulevard Lumumba for burial. It had been noted that Fecofa could not be associated, in any capacity whatsoever, with the management of Ndaye’s medical and funeral situation, whereas such a prerogative would have been partly the responsibility of the national football authority in the DRC.
Upon his return from the funeral, it was from Johannesburg that journalist Jeff Katala wrote a virulent letter (in English) addressed to the Deputy Secretary General for Football Development (with copy to the Communication Director at the time, the Malagasy Nathalie Rabé), the Ghanaian Anthony Baffoe, to voice his concern over CAF leaders’ contempt. Far from being a personal vendetta, the letter aimed at the non-recognition by CAF towards Ndaye but also towards other former African glories such as Charles Gyamfy, Abdul Razak (Golden Boy), Laby Keita alias Papa Camara and SyllaBangoura (former Hafia players), Paul Moukila, DombaGéomètre, Godfrey Chitalu, Manga Ongnuene, AbdoulayeTraore, Serge Alain Maguy, Laurent Pokou, DoumbéLéa etc. The tone of the letter was explanatory of CAF’s misdemeanours towards those who have richly contributed to its existence. Exchanges were hot but amicable between the Ghanaian administrator and the Congolese journalist who left no stone unturned to talk his mind. The demarches by both African sons culminated in the materialization of the first objectives among many.On June 30 for the round robin final games of the group phase at the last Total African Cup of Nations – Egypt 2019, CAF decided to honour former DR Congo striker Pierre NdayeMulamba, record holder of most goals in a single AFCON campaign, in standing still before kickoff. Tony Baffoebrought the news to Jeff Katala, but the latter retorted in the beautiful way that the fight has just begun. The President of FECOFA and CAF 1st Vice-President, MrConstant OmariSelemani, another DR Congolese, hadinitiated concurrent steps at his hierarchical level, as indicated in the process. Jeff is adamantly insisting that CAF institute a Top goal Scorer Award bearing the name of Ndaye in future editions of CAF Awards. And for its First Edition, he pursues that Sylvie Divine Ndaye, the one who was at the bedside of her bedridden father, be present at the ceremony, at the expense of CAF, notwithstanding the fact that the mission resembles the dreams of a deaf-mute. Better to have tried and fail, than doing nothing and regret later. A Commission in charge of Ancient Glories should be created. Most former players in Europe hold key positions in the football administration. Van Basten, Van der Sarr, Boniek, Boban, Domergue, Joel Bats, Rumunigge, Beckenbauer, Dieter and UliHoeness, Sepp Maier etc.manage European and world football.
In the afterlife, Ndaye listened to the crying of his sons and daughters in Kinshasa during the funeral of their father. Six of them met with the “Peacemaker” Vital Kamerhewho told them to receive an amount equivalent to U$ 30,000.00 after the ceremony at the Palais du Peuple. Former Sports Minister PapyNyango, who is currently sitting in parliament, took part in theshortened tête-à-tête. The boss of Sports agreed without resentment before refuting Kamerhe recommendations afterwards, even under the threat of Ndaye’s offspring. During her father’s hospitalization, Sylvie Divine Ndayewas deprived ofallowances she was entitled to from the Congolese State to be by her father side. She was expelled from the hotel which adjoins the clinic where her father was hospitalized to look for shelter in Yeoville, squatting therein until her father death. Nyango swore to never pay the above-mentioned sum to Ndaye children, promising to repay the balance to the Treasury.He declared: “I depend on the Prime Minister and I am not taking orders fromKamerhe”. Has he done it? While the new President Felix Tshilombo advocates the change of mentality, the predators of orphans of the caliber of Nyango must be punished, banished, impeached of any political mandate. Theft, scam and forcible confinement do not constitute the arsenal of ethicalvaluesin the Republic. By addressing a panegyric to Ndayeon February 26 at the Palais du Peuple during the national funeral, Nyango had promised the construction of the Ndaye Stadium with 40,000 seats in his stronghold of Kananga. The implementation of which is yet to be carried out a year later. What about the medical cover promised to AFCON winning leopards of 1968 and 1974?
With his death, NdayeMulamba became the fifth member of the 1974 team to die after KazadiMwamba, MwanzaMukombo, Jean KemboUba-Kembo and MwepuIlunga.
Once again, the country has gloomily shown that it remains an excellent chess player who masters both the timing and the tempo of its very well coordinated actions to strip the orphans of humanity. Drowning in deep in sorrow, Ndaye children witness the absence of funeral ethics towards them and their father; they apprehend sadness, guilt, fear, anger or even regret; these sufferings that exacerbate Ndaye hardship. It is not the behaviour of a father from beyond the grave that causes affliction, but the wickedness of the living whose ignominy disturbs the enjoyment of the coffin tranquility. The people need a finely calibrated response to cross the red lines and limit de-escalation, by fleshing out an effigy, a monument which illustrates the grand dimension of Joseph Pierre NdayeMulamba posthumously.