RIP Phanini, the Buccaneer

Orlando Pirates superfan, Nokulunga Nopinki ‘Phanini’ Nazo

We are wrapping up women’s month on a bad note, with the passing of Nokulunga Nopinki ‘Phanini’ Nazo. On August 10, we were shocked by the notice issued by her family announcing her death on her Facebook page.

Three days before the announcement, she had crossed my mind because she was scarce on Facebook. And I wondered why she was so scarce, but I thought maybe she is facing her problems like anyone who is dealing with their own struggles in South Africa these days. What made me think about her is that she promised me something last month.

I saw her tagged in a post on Facebook about a Black child studying at a predominantly white school in East London, who excelled in hockey. We agreed that she would connect me with this child so that I could write an article about them in this newspaper, I’solezwe lesiXhosa.

I never thought that today we would say that Nopinki is no longer with us. I am not just saying because I do not know that death is something that comes like a thief.

I had to do an ode to Nopinki because she was my friend. I met her on Facebook while I was still working in Johannesburg before this isiXhosa newspaper was launched in 2015. It was football that brought me closer to her even though I did not know where she was from.

Nopinki was an Orlando Pirates superfan. She did not just talk about the team and have banter interactions with Kaizer Chiefs fans, she went to Johannesburg, Gqeberha – wherever Pirates played. She was a die-hard Buccaneer. After a while when I was hired at I’solezwe lesiXhosa, I asked her to introduce me to football fans in the Eastern Cape. My goal was to know the newspaper through football fans. Phanini did that. She is the one who introduced me to the fans of Pirates, Chiefs and Sundowns who I published on the newspaper. She helped me a lot in my work even though she did not understand the importance of what she did for me.

The Pinklady did not just follow football. The last time I was with her, we went to welcome the Springboks at the airport in East London after they won the world cup at the end of 2019.

She was travelling with her friend Zoliswa ‘Makhambule’ Galo. I had so much fun on this historic day until I parted ways with them. Nopinki was put to rest last weekend.

In conclusion, I want to say that it is sad to lose someone who is useful to society like you Phanini, a dedicated sports fan. But because death is a natural thing, we accept you being taken by God. Rest in peace Phanini, the Buccaneer. We will always miss you in sports.