GEARBOX LAID TO REST
IT was a sombre atmosphere yesterday as hundreds of people gathered to pay their last respects to former Kukhulwa Kokuphela actor, businessman and philanthropist Nhlanhla Lucky “Gearbox” Sibanda at the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) church in Mzilikazi suburb, Bulawayo.
Sibanda played Gearbox, a witty member of a three-man gang of conmen that had the likes of Khraiseki (Edwin Nhliziyo), and Mdlambulo (Wonder Siziba) in the popular drama.
Sibanda died on Tuesday night at Mater Dei hospital after losing his three-year battle with cancer. His death came exactly a month after he celebrated his 57th birthday.
Local business people, football greats and fellow actors joined the Sibanda family in comforting his wife Audrey and the couple’s six children as they buried their father.
Speaker after speaker had words of praise for Sibanda describing him as a man with a big heart and a loveable character.
Among those in attendance were Highlanders FC chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede, Zifa vice president Omega Sibanda, Chicken Inn FC coach Rahman Gumbo and fellow actor Felix Moyo.
“A larger than life character, Sibanda was lovable and it was easy for one to click with him. When it came to acting, he was a man who executed his role perfectly. His character was of a township fraudster, but in real life he was a man of the highest integrity and a respectable businessman,” said Moyo.
Family members said they had lost a pillar of strength who was a unifier and would be greatly missed.
From the church service, a long funeral procession headed to Lady Stanley Cemetery, Sibanda’s final resting place.
Born on August 13, 1959 in Nkayi, Sibanda grew up in Sivomo area and learnt at Sivomo Primary School before moving to Makhulambila Primary School in Lower Gweru then Ihlathi Secondary School in Tshabalala, Bulawayo.
He worked for the National Railways of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1984 as a commercial clerk and later as an administrative officer.
Thereafter he worked for Old Mutual Zimbabwe where he was a sales representative and financial advisor until 2003.
During his years at Old Mutual, Sibanda joined Felix Moyo, the writer and producer of Kukhulwa Kokuphela and was given the role of Gearbox.
The character was part of a three-man gang of conmen.
This is where he carved his career as an actor with his character of a quick witted person who kept the crew in check being a darling of many who watched the drama.
Apart from work and acting, Sibanda was a businessman of repute after setting up Yonah Group of companies in 1995. Sibanda owned Yonah Complex in Entumbane, Yonah Transport in Kelvin North industrial area and a filling station in Nkayi.
Socially he was involved heavily in playing football for his then company’s team Old Mutual, and now with Izinsizwa FC playing in the Golden Oldies social league.
Sibanda was also a life-time member of the giants of Zimbabwe football Highlanders FC and their benefactor. — @bonganinkunzi
Pallbearers carry the body of the late Nhlanhla Lucky ‘Gearbox’ Sibanda after a church service to its final resting place at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo yesterday. Inset the late Nhlanhla Lucky ‘Gearbox’ Sibanda