Captivating performances light up the festivities.

Capitalk Reporter |  11 months ago | Entertainment

Through their well-rehearsed, gravity-defying and astonishing performances, members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) mass display team left the crowd mesmerized during the 42nd Independence Anniversary main celebrations held at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo on Monday.

The police team from Morris Depot in Harare drove home messages that revolved around drug and substance abuse among youth, the need to observe COVID-19 regulations, as well as putting shoulder to the wheel towards making the country an upper middle-income economy by 2030.

In one of the displays, a police dog rode and controlled a motorbike with a cop as a passenger. In other fascinating displays, one of the performers, dressed like a nurse, danced while on the rooftop of a police ambulance in motion. However, it was Assistant Inspector Wilfred Mashaya (39) and his six-year-old son, Wilfred (Jnr), who stole the show with their impressive martial arts displays.

Asst Insp Mashaya is a multi-award-winning martial artist and instructor at the ZRP Morris Depot and has led the Kobudo revolution, which saw Zimbabwe win over 100 medals in international virtual tournaments last year. He is the only certified ninja in Zimbabwe and a holder of four black belts in Karate, Kobudo, Ninjutsu and self-defence. Asst Insp Mashaya is also a Hall of Famer, having been inducted into more than five European Halls of Fame.

Wilfred (Jnr) is following in his footsteps after winning four gold medals at various international online tournaments. Last month, the youngster who has been slowly emulating his father won a gold medal in the Malta Online Championship. Wilfred (Jnr), who was among six participants from Zimbabwe who took part in the tournament, beat competition from Russia and Slovakia to win the championship.

This was a major improvement after winning bronze in the same event last year. For Asst Insp Mashaya and his son, were the centre of attraction during the Independence Day celebrations, which, for the first time since 1980, were hosted outside Harare in line with the Second Republic’s thrust of devolution and decentralisation. This year’s Independence celebration, together with the children’s party, were held under the theme: "[email protected] no one and no place behind."

In an interview yesterday, Asst Insp Mashaya said he is a self-trained martial artist, having developed a passion for the sport at a tender age.

"I trained myself in martial arts from the age of eight until I reached a stage where I competed at international tournaments and subsequently won medals and was eventually inducted into the Halls of Fame. I have managed to do something which very few Zimbabweans have done, such as being the first certified self-defence instructor in Zimbabwe, "he said.

Asst Insp Mashaya is the first member of the uniformed forces to clinch the Sports Person of the Year and Sportsman of the Year in 2018. He was also the first male to do so. He has also founded his own academy, called ZimNinja Academy, with the aim of sharing his talent with fellow countrymen. As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to ravage the world, disturbing sporting activities, Asst Insp Mashaya was actually flourishing with his ZimNinja Academy, embarking on a massive recruitment drive which ultimately saw the institution win over 100 medals.

In 2020, Asst Insp Mashaya introduced his son to this sport, and the six-year-old took the world by storm, winning 12 medals, including eight gold, one silver and three bronze. Several girls who also joined the academy have also won medals.

"Having travelled around the world in various countries such as Russia, Spain, Italy, Montenegro, among others, I saw it fit to share my skills with fellow Zimbabweans." I am on a mission to make sure I groom more champions from Zimbabwe, including kids. Asst Insp Mashaya said children, including his six-year-old son, who is turning seven, next month, are doing well.

My son has become part of the police displays, and on Independence Day, he impressed the crowd at BF Stadium. My son has also won 15 medals in virtual tournaments and competitions with countries such as Russia, Italy, Spain, and Japan, among others, he said.

"I am happy that at his age he is actually winning medals in weapons, a martial art that was not popular in Africa."

Asst Insp Mashaya, who was born in Gutu in Masvingo and grew up in Mufakose suburb in Harare, started training his son when he was four-years-old.

"My son is doing well and is already a world champion in virtual competitions with a lot of gold medals, and my aim is to make sure that he becomes a world-class champion," he said.

Asst Insp Mashaya joined the police force in 2009 and since then has been stationed at Morris Depot, where he is an instructor in martial arts.