There are very few books that can hold a reader’s attention for six whole hours straight, but this one certainly deserves to be on that short list.
When I was a young lad growing up in the ’80s in Mamelodi, soccer was religion. Like the Pope, Mamelodi Sundowns held the same level of prestige. I had little familiarity with Sundowns owner Zola Mahobe through stories of his enormous wealth and flamboyance.
This book caught my eye in the airport bookshop, and it was an easy decision to buy it. I finally get to learn all the gory details of this guy’s life story, about whom I have heard so much.
As a child growing up in the township, you would often hear or see stories of serious gangsters, people who had committed heists or had some sophisticated and covert method of illegally making money. That was the stature that Zola Mahobe had.
We all knew he was wealthy, but none could say for sure where he got his money.
When I decided to buy this book, I did so with the expectation that it would supply all of the juicy answers I had been seeking for a considerable time.
Boy oh boy, the book gripped me, it held me by the washing and took me through the granular details of man called Zola Mahobe.
The book tells the story of Zola Mahobe’s life, from his childhood to his first meeting with Snowy Moshoeshoe to the magnificent heist they pulled together and the subsequent lavish lifestyle they had, including flying the entire Sundowns team to London to witness a soccer final. By “Sundown teams,” I mean the players, management and their significant others.
How they get caught and how life unfolds for both of them from thereon. It’s incredible the trouble you may get into if you refuse to lend a friend money.
It’s a story of ambition, smarts, flamboyancy, of how new money people behave. It is also a book full of wisdom, and it has a way of teaching you the most important things in life in a way you would never anticipate.
If Snowy Moshoeshoe truly was Zola’s soulmate, as he claims, then I don’t understand why they never tied the knot. Even though he was still with Snowy, Zola got married to other women before and after prison.
It used to be that Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates were the kings of flamboyance, but it was Zola Mahobe who first brought flamboyance to Mamelodi Sundowns and disrupted the flamboyance status-quo by adding Sundowns to the list of flamboyant teams.
I started reading this book all the way through in one sitting, from the very first page to the very last one.
It’s a Bonny and Clyde story, and while it’s exciting throughout, it ends on a sad note. The book has funny moments, inspiring moments, moments of jealousy and “oh-my-word-no-ways” moments. Yes, it is dramatic like that.
I just couldn’t put it done. In order to avoid giving away any spoilers, all I can say is that you should read it.
- “I am a man of many challenges. I like to travel with my lawyers and my gunman next to me.”
- “There was tension between Pirates fans and Chiefs fans that sometimes led to fights. Then Kaizer Chiefs coined the slogan ‘Love and Peace’. It was their way of asking Pirates fans to stop the anger and violence against them. But it had a bigger context as well: it referred to what was happening in the country as a whole – a message to the apartheid oppressors to stop harassing people and let love and peace prevail.”
- “Snowy, on the other hand, did not drive a flashy car to work. ‘Let sleeping dogs lie, my love; let them lie and even snore, Mahobe liked saying to her.”
- “Mahobe was ready to make his move. He is reported to have offered the owners of Sundowns R100,000 for an 80% stake in the club, an offer that was too good to be refused. And so, at the age of 31, Zola Mahobe stepped into a new identity as the owner of a football team.”
- “”Let everybody be happy, then the money will flow in.” Mahobe doted on his players and staff, showering them with expensive gifts, including top-of-the-range BMWs and even houses.”