The mischievous Mambo and mighty Zindoga have become well-known for their friendship and shared brotherly bond, but many people do not know of the two grooms whose connection is almost parallel to theirs. Colben Mogakane and Kenneth Shambira consider themselves as “brothers from another mother” as well as best friends.
Many of the grooms at Camp Jabulani have family totems, usually represented by an animal, and they go by their totems’ name. Kenneth is more commonly known to his friends and co-workers as ‘Shumba’, which in Shona means lion. Colben’s family totem is the monkey, which ironically is well known in literature, for teasing the lion. Each morning when I head out with the grooms, Shumba’s smiling face is the first to greet me with “Mangwanani akanaka shamwari!”, which translates to “Good morning my friend!” Soon after, Colben will pop up behind Shumba’s shoulder and offer me a similar greeting.
Not long after the greetings, the frolicsome teasing starts: “Hey monkey! Where have you been my friend?” Shumba laughs. Colben looks at him with a sneaky smile and pokes him with his prodder, “I am too quick for you to even see me, let alone catch me!” Before I can even blink, Colben is off, running as fast as his legs can carry him with Shumba chasing close behind. The two finish the race in spitting distance from one another. The elephants are waiting for us and they begin to laugh as they trip over one another and fall into the sand. As the two help each other up, you can hear Colben pat Shumba on the back, “Ah my friend, you can catch up rather quickly can’t you?”
As I catch up to the boys, it is finally time to walk with the elephants to their browsing spot for the day. One on each side of me, we walk the elephants through the bush, laughing and joking with one another as we go along. It’s not long before the two begin debating about hot topics in the bush that day. Whether that be what type of thorn just went through my boot or what animal in the bush is the best. It comes with little surprise to me that Kenneth picks the lion, while Colben chooses to defend the monkey. “Ah, but you see, the lion is much quicker than the monkey and will surely catch him before he can run away” argues Shumba. “Ha-ha! That is what you think my friend, but you are wrong! The monkey is far too clever to try and outrun the lion. The monkey will simply climb a tall tree and make fun of the lion from above!” retorts Colben. “Then the lion will also climb the tree to get the monkey!” yells Kenneth excitedly. “Ah man! Now you sound crazy, a lion can’t climb a tree like a monkey. It would have to jump so high it would seem that it could fly!” scoffs Colben. The two look at one another for a moment and burst out laughing, realizing that the idea is simply ‘Unopenga’, which in Shona means crazy!
You just can’t help but smile when these two are around, as the day is guaranteed to be filled with silly jokes and tons of laughter.
I have learned so much from these two as they have taught me countless phrases in Shona, South African and Zimbabwean traditions. Most importantly of all however, they have taught me the true meaning of friendship. Just like Mambo and Zindoga their friendship is mischievous and mighty.
I hope we are all lucky enough one day to find a friendship as heartwarming and chucklesome as theirs.