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Turning heartbreak into something positive

NOVEMBER comes with a mixed bag of emotions for lawyer Jerome Madondo.

By Enock Muchinjo

He celebrates his birthday in the month.

On a less-than-cheerful note, it is a time of painful reminders in his life.

Madondo’s two older brothers — heroes in the Harare-based attorney’s upbringing — were in the prime of youth when both died in their 20s. One was born in November, one passed away in November.

The death of a sibling is an extremely traumatic experience. Going on to lose another one can have unimaginable consequences for a young person.

It was a great emotional torment that left the youngest of the brothers very disenchanted with life, and bitterly questioning its meaning.

“I was very angry,” Madondo told IndependentSport this week. “I was enraged. I was severely depressed. I now had to deal with death, to understand what it really means, and the pain it inflicts. It was devastating. I had deep connection with my brothers so their deaths meant loss of friends, shields and confidantes. I was also extremely worried about my family, the great pain they were also going through. There is nothing worse than that feeling. It is simply heartbreaking.”

Young Jerome was in his mid-teens when oldest brother Trevor Madondo — the first black Zimbabwe cricketer to play for the country as a batsman — died of cerebral malaria at the age of 24 in a development that shocked the cricketing world.

An outstanding batting talent whose career was only beginning to take off at the time of his death following a slow start, Trevor would exhibit his true potential with a workmanlike 74 not-out away to New Zealand at the end of 2000, an innings that admirably complemented the great Andy Flower’s own half-century to help Zimbabwe save the lone Test in Wellington.

Six months after that gusty knock, Trevor breathed his last at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare in June 2001 after he had been attacked weeks earlier by a severe bout of malaria.

The late sporty brothers attended top private boarding schools, first at Lilfordia Primary just outside Harare and then Falcon College in Esgodini, thanks to a comfortable childhood in a hardworking Mutare family.

Tafadzwa Madondo, five years Trevor’s junior, died in a motorbike accident while holidaymaking in Indonesia in November 2008, aged 27.

Unlike his older brother, Tafadzwa did not go on to play sport at the highest level. At the time of his passing, he worked in the real estate business in New Zealand while also carving out a successful career in modeling.

Not that he was less gifted on the sports field. As a cricketer, he played in the 1996 Under-15 World Cup in England, where Falcon schoolmate and close friend Mluleki “Syke” Nkala was captain of the young Zimbabwe side coached by Robin Brown.

A batsman and occasional wicketkeeper, Tafadzwa featured in only one first-class match, for his home province Manicaland against Matabeleland in the 2000-01 season.

In rugby, he was a phenomenal fullback who played for Falcon’s first XV and represented Zimbabwe Schools at the Craven Week.

A softer and more affable character than Trevor — who had quite a reputation for being forthright, strongly opinionated and fiercely driven — Tafadzwa was a firm favourite of many, a schoolyard hero who headed a house in his senior Falcon years.

In memory of the late gifted brothers, the Trevor Madondo Foundation, which aims to create sporting opportunities for underprivileged children, has been launched by the family.

“We have set up the foundation to help young kids who intend to pursue careers in sport,” said ex-schoolboy cricket, rugby and hockey player Jerome. “It is a self-funded project at the moment and we hope to grow it by getting partners to join. We want to create opportunities and I have no doubt that from this, stars will be born.

Trevor was starting to exhibit traits of the player we all knew he was when his life was cut short. One of the kids to benefit from this foundation will go on to fulfill the promise Trevor had. The talent I have seen in these kids is amazing. More Trevors and Tafadzwas are going to emerge from this, trust me.”

The youthful lawyer, who turned 32 on Monday, aspires to head Zimbabwe’s national cricket association one day — to carry on the legacy of his dearly departed brothers.

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