Ghanaian International and Yanga talent Bernard Morrison have his skills learned from South African International Mahlatse ‘Skudu’ Makudubela who both are teammates at Young Africans.
In the space of 30 minutes sitting with Mahlatse ‘Skudu’ Makudubela in the reception of the Golden Tulip Hotel in the city centre of Dar es Salaam, his love affair with Mwananchi is easily visible.
At least ten people interrupt with flowing conversation as they ask for a picture with the newly signed Young Africans winger. It’s attention he’s not used to. Just six months ago, he could walk in and out of any mall in South Africa without anyone noticing or stopping him.
But now, in far-flung Dar es Salaam, the taxi driver, security guard, hotel receptionist or waiter will tell you about Skudu the moment they hear you’re from South Africa.
Indeed, a prophet is not honoured in his hometown. “Even when I played for Orlando Pirates, I could walk through a mall, and no one asks for a picture,” he told South Africa’s FARPost.
This is just over a fortnight after his breathtaking unveiling in front of 60000 fans who attended Yanga Day at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium. Even sweeter, his debut came against an opponent he’s used to from South Africa – Kaizer Chiefs.
“I’m so humbled, my brother. While waiting in the tunnel, Kaizer Jnr approached me and embraced me. He said, ‘This is big, go and shine boy’. It meant a lot to me,” he says.
And shine, he did shine even before getting onto the pitch. ‘Skudu’, a man of many talents, danced a little to an AmaPiano tune before juggling the ball, driving a packed Benjamin Mkapa Stadium into a frenzy.
It was only his fifth day in Dar es Salaam after becoming the first South African to join a Tanzania Premier League team.
A car in town already had the name Skudu Makudubela inscribed on the tow bar. Some fans had the name Skudu written on their faces. And some unashamedly wrote on their stomachs.
But many would have seen videos of him dancing and wearing a Yanga jersey seven months ago. Of course, the video trended when talk of him joining Yanga started.
However, the video, uploaded on Instagram, was taken way before his former club, Marumo Gallants, faced Timu ya Wananchi in the CAF Confederation Cup. Bernard Morisson, who recently left the club, sent him the jersey. The two had known each other from their days at the Buccaneers.
“Bernard Morisson introduced Skudu to us when Marumo Gallants came to play Yanga. He said he learnt every skill he did on the pitch from Skudu. So, we got to know Skudu as the teacher,” says Channel 10 pundit King Salum Pelembo.
As soon as it was announced that Skudu was officially a Yanga player around midnight on Wednesday, 19 July 2023, his Instagram numbers increased by the hour. “I had 65,000 followers on Instagram when I arrived, but I’m sitting on double that number after just a few days here.”
As of Monday, 7 August, 2023, Skudu has 142,000 followers. It’s all an indication of how much Yanga fans have fallen in love with their new signing. Interestingly, ‘the 33-year-old in a 25-year-old’s body’ had never imagined himself playing for Yanga.
Mahlatse ‘Skudu’ Makudubela still had his sights set on playing in the DStv Premiership. Two PSL teams were keen on his services.
But a phone call from Yanga president Engineer Hersi Said Ally changed everything. “That phone call was the difference. I couldn’t resist, and I’m glad I took this step,” he added.
It appears Skudu impressed everyone with his performance against Yanga in Marumo colours. They just had to bring him over.
Skudu is that apple that never fell far from the tree. His dad, Napoleon, was also a pacy wing who could be deployed on either side of the attack. He recalls the one day his dad took him to a game at the stadium. Dad was now coaching Napoleon Golden Zebras, a team named after himself.
“I was still young, like 10, when dad took me to their game against Swallows’ reserve. It was a curtain raiser for Chiefs and Swallows.”
That stadium visit piqued some interest in him to play the game. Luckily, at the age of 13, he was scouted to join the School of Excellence during an Under 14 tournament in the Vaal. At the School, he spent five years before joining Mamelodi Sundowns while doing Matric.
His career then took him to a number of clubs, including Platinum Stars, Orlando Pirates, Chippa United and most recently Marumo Gallants.
Fascinatingly, the most challenging period of his career birthed a new passion and skill. It would push his love for dancing further down the pecking order. “When I was young, my brother and I were dancing. We were even on Star Search, and we won the competition. We had gigs and we were getting paid.
“But when football started getting serious, I dropped dancing. So, it was now school, football and church.”
A new passion would take over during that difficult Chippa stint. “I had a tough time when Pirates loaned me to Chippa United. I never got a chance to play there. But I was able to complete my Diploma in Photography.”
It did not end there, as he established a photography and videography company 3 Kinetics.
“I’ve always loved photography, so studying it and turning it into a business made sense. We do corporate functions and sports photoshoots; we do weddings.”
His football career has also taken him to countries like Georgia, where he had to return after five months because of Covid-19. In Slovakia, he had a stint with SK Slovan Bratislava, while his stay in Canada was cut short.
But from all the travels football presents, another hobby was born. That pastime – travelling – was also turned into a business as he runs a travel agency called Matape Agency. “I’ve used the contacts I’ve created in football to run it.”
But for now, he understands the responsibility that lies on his shoulders as Yanga looks to retain their league title. He has to dance on the ball across the stadiums of the East African country and make Wananchi happy.
And he is all set to fight and make the Green and Yellow Citizens proud.