The favorite Bulawayo football team has always been Highlanders. That black and white flag, waved feverishly out of car windows on game day, always brings a fierce loyalty to my heart.
Highlanders FC, a Zimbabwean football club based in Bulawayo, was formed in 1926. It is one of the biggest, most successful soccer teams in Zimbabwe and arguably the most supported team. Everywhere it plays it attracts big crowds. It is also known colloquially as iBosso.
Founded in 1926 as Lions Football Club, composed mainly of youths born in Makokoba (Bulawayo's oldest township) by two of the great Ndebele King Lobengula's grandsons, Albert and Rhodes, who were sons of Njube. In 1936 - the players changed the name to Matebeleland Highlanders Football Club.
Highlanders most bitter rival is Dynamos from Harare and the matches between these two giants have been dubbed "Battle of Zimbabwe".
Bulawayo (also known fondly as 'Skies' ) is justifiably proud of their team. My personal involvement with Highlanders began in the seventies when the advertising agency I was working with, was asked to design a 'strip' for Highlanders. Peter Ndlovu was my hero in those days, and we became great friends with the team, as intricate work on the design of the teams apparel was constructed in our art studio. My darling late friend Margot was the artist and she worked many a long hour on the pattern of this all-important black and white design.
In Zimbabwe players from Highlanders who have played at the highest level of professional football in the world include players like Peter Ndlovu, Bruce Grobbelaar and Benjamin Nkonjera. Highlanders is the second most supported club in Zimbabwe with over 5 million supporters, after Dynamos who have over 7 million supporters.
Of course everyone knows football star Bruce Grobbelaar - Grobbelaar was born in Durban, South Africa to ethnic Afrikaner South African parents. When he was two months old he emigrated to Rhodesia (renamed Zimbabwe in 1980) with his mother and sister to join his father, who had got a job on the railways there.
Grobbelaar grew up and learnt his football in Rhodesia and he chose to play for them. Grobbelaar made his international debut for Rhodesia as a 19-year-old in a friendly ironically against the country of his birth and ethnic heritage South Africa in 1977. Grobbelaar also played for Highlanders and for Zimbabwe in qualifying for the 1982 World Cup and he earned 32 caps for the Zimbabwe national football team between 1980 and 1998. He last played for Zimbabwe in 1998.
Highlanders motto is "Siyinqaba!" - "We are a Fortress!" and that black and white flag, featuring the proud Matabele shield, is very precious to all of us in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe.