The Sunday Mail
Ishemunyoro Chingwere —
ZIMBABWEAN rugby export Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira weighed a hefty 5kg at birth and loved his food, his adoring mother Bertha reveals.
“. . . everyone was shocked (when he was born), some daring nurses said they had never seen a baby that big,” she laughs. “As he grew up he ate whatever we cooked but the difference with him was the volumes he ate. Chikafu aichiwona zvekuti (he loved food a lot).
“Maybe the food contributed to his big stature but it must be noted that he also takes after his father (Felix) who is tall but not as bulky as Tendai is.”
The Springboks and Sharks prop was in Zimbabwe last week for the burial of his maternal grandmother, Roda Kuhlengisa, and took time to attend church with his mother at Apostolic Faith Mission’s Mainway Meadows Assembly in Harare last Sunday.
In a brief address, Mtawarira thanked the church for standing by his family “during a very difficult time”.
“Thank you for being a pillar for my mother, she is always speaking well of this church, it shows God’s good works,” he told congregants.
Bertha says her son has roots firmly steeped in Christianity.
“He is a God-fearing child who always highlights that everything he has achieved in life is testimony of the Lord’s grace. It is for that reason that when a small opportunity availed itself, he squeezed through his programme to attend church with me.
He also takes good care of his family and us. In fact he is always available to assist us and every relative when problems befall us,” says the proud mum.
Bertha reveals that the Mtawarira family wasn’t excited with the idea of having Tendai play rugby at Harare’s Prospect Primary School.
“Rugby was an easy choice for him and his teachers because of his size, but as a family we were worried. We asked ‘what kind of sport is this?’ This was because he always came back home injured whenever he played.
“Our fear was that he would end up with injuries that would threaten his life. There is no mother who wants to see her son in pain, especially when a choice can be made to avoid the source of the pain.
“But he would tell us repeatedly that this was the path he had chosen and asked us to support him in his endeavours,” she says.
His father Felix is a fitness and Tennis enthusiast but unlike his son, never competed at professional level.
“I like Tennis a lot and it is the sport that I have always played up to today.
“But unlike Tendai, it was just a passtime for me and a way to stay fit,” said the senior Mtawarira.
Beast is the first born in a family of three. (He has a brother (Ray) and a sister.)
Ray tried his hand at the sport that has given Beast fame and fortune, but he has not been as fortunate with injuries.
“He tried but it didn’t work out, he has chosen another field and is doing well,” says Bertha.
With his grand mother laid to rest, Mtawarira is back in South Africa where he is regarded highly.
Says the South African Rugby Union website about the 31-year-old Zimbabwean: “Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira is a strong scrummager with great technique as well as a powerful ball-carrier.”