With a patient and compassionate heart, Arrah has a remarkable ability to bring forgotten heroes from the past back into the limelight. Through the presentation of Certificates of Appreciation, he shows these individuals love and recognition, many of whom were previously unknown. Unlike most people, Arrah advocates for honouring individuals while they are still alive, rather than waiting until they have passed away and are unable to appreciate the gestures.

By Jabu Kumalo

The famous Uncle of uncles of Soweto has this rare gift, if we may call it that, of having a patient heart that can dig up those forgotten heroes of yesteryear.

He pulls them up, some from absolute obscurity, and showers them with love by honouring them with Certificates of Appreciation.  He is one of those few individuals who strongly believes there should be a culture of honouring people who have done well while still alive. He despises this culture of singing praises to the dead who cannot hear them, gifting them with flowers they cannot smell or trying to touch their souls with poetic words when they cannot feel anything anymore.

The likeable Malume Siphiwe “Arrah” Msimango has said time and again whenever he honours yesterday’s heroes that “there are people in our communities that are doing great things but are never recognised. 

Nothing seems to give Malume greater pleasure and satisfaction than seeing the happy faces of the recipients as they come up to collect their treasured certificates. As part of Father’s Day, Malume threw a party for fathers, grandfathers, uncles and young men at the Diepkloof Multi-Purpose Hall in Zone 3, Diepkloof, Soweto. Though Father’s Day was on Sunday, the function was held on Monday, which was a public holiday (17/06).

And oh boy! They came dressed in their best.

They had dusted their long-forgotten suits, jackets and trousers to show their peers they still had “that thing”. Like in the olden days, their shining shoes were a sight to behold. Real gentlemen! It was a mixture of all sorts of characters of men such as klevas van toeka, scholars, bomahlalela, society’s cream of the crop, cool dads and a sprinkle of down-to-earth moegoes. Albeit, it was indeed a sight to behold and an atmosphere to treasure for ages.

Dads had forgotten for a moment about their fatherly duties, other nonsensical stuff like papgeld and screaming partners as they danced to real jazz and old-time blues. They were in a space where they felt safe enough to do their jitter-bug and bump jive without being accused of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and all other stuff that men are accused of these days.

Music was provided by guitarist Smokey, trumpeter Lulu Masilela, gospel group, Kings of Harmony Voices and others.

Some of those honoured, mostly retired boxers like Thomas “Homicide” Sithebe and his brother, Johannes “Slashing Tiger” Sithebe, Jan Bergman and former boxer and trainer Norman Hlabane, author Mothobi Mutloatse, promoter and manager Mandla Baloyi, gospel group Kings of Harmony Voices, former soccer players and others. One of Hlabane’s boxers was the famous Rose of Soweto, Dingaan Thobela, who passed away recently.

Thobela was also among those to be honoured but unfortunately, death overtook the event.

“Most famous boxers came from the hands of Hlabane. Two weeks after I informed him (Hlabane) that I was going to honour his boxer Dingaan, he unfortunately passed away,” Malume said.

Receiving his certificate, Hlabane said: “I thank Siphiwe for humbling honour. Boxing is a beautiful sport. That is why it is called the sport of gentlemen. Unknown to you people, Thomas Homicide Sithebe played a great part in making Dingaan a great boxer.”

Author and famous writer, Mothobi Mutloatse said it was a pity a human being like Malume, who has done so much for others is neglected: “Those in the arts are neglected like Siphiwe. Ntate Siphiwe has done a lot for many others, but he is being ignored, nationally, provincially and locally. I’ll make sure that I push hard that he be recognised.”

One speaker after another showered Malume with praises and wished him a long life. They asked him not to give up the good work that he was doing.      

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