HE could possibly be Bulawayo or the country’s oldest “mageza” (slang for kombi driver) but George Marambakuyana (94) believes he is a Michael Schumacher of sorts.
Marambakuyana was born in 1924, same year former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born.
The old man is popular on the City Centre-Mpilo route and his commuters affectionately call him “Maramba”, short for his surname.
“I am very good with the steering wheel and I have never been involved in any accident. I have always been on the right side of the law, I am a law abiding driver,” said Maramba.
His first experience behind the wheel was when he left his tribal homeland Hurungwe in Mashonaland West Province in search of greener pastures in Bulawayo where he has been resident since 1953.
Maramba said he still enjoys driving despite that he owns two commuter omnibuses one of which he drives. In those circles he is a respected legend.
“Younger drivers and their conductors respect me so much. I do not receive that much respect from my own children,” he added. Maramba said the reason he was still going strong was because he stays away from alcohol and other vices associated with it.
“I am strong because I managed to stay away of smoking, alcohol and women. I stay faithful to my wife,” said Maramba.
Maramba is married to Nomathemba Gumede Marambakuyana who keeps records of the business. She’s thrilled by her husband’s strength and has so much confidence in his driving such that accidents are far from her thoughts.
“Maramba is a very experienced driver and I have so much faith in him. I know that every day as he goes to work he will come back home safely. At times he even drives the whole family to Hurungwe all by himself without any help from anyone,” she said.
Maramba has institutional knowledge and advice for younger drivers.
“As an elder in the industry I have made my own observations about the behaviour of these other drivers. I think they lack proper education because most of them think driving people is a game, they can play on their phones. I see them driving through red robots and that pains me because that’s what causes most of these accidents,” he said.
He said he will not be retiring anytime soon for he still has the strength to drive and his eyes are still as good as new.
“I thank God because he loves me and he has been with me since the beginning of my career. I do not think of retiring and I have never thought of retiring because my eyesight is still as good as a teenager so I do not see any reason why I should stop driving and stay home,” he concluded.
However, the Road Traffic Act does not permit anyone beyond the age of 70 to drive a public service vehicle.
“I am not aware of the character but I am aware that the law (Road Traffic Act) does not permit anyone beyond 70 years to drive a public service vehicle (PSV),” said Tatenda Chinoda Traffic Safety Council spokesperson.
Some of the oldest drivers known
– Giovanni Rozzo (103) drives an ice cream van in Britain
-Bob Edwards is New Zealand’s oldest driver, and not only is he still motoring around at the grand old age of 105, he says he doesn’t think he is old.
– Edythe Kirchmaier from California took her first driving lesson in 1927 only to get her licence at the age of 105 in 2013