HOW strange it is that after being close friends with Thulo Masithela for nearly half a century it is only now, when he is dead, that I fully realise the archival mind he had.
Masithela, or The Boss, was born in Bloemfontein. He was known in his birthplace and in several other townships in Free State for his profound love for sport, especially football and boxing.
He also had and a deep knowledge about these sporting codes.
Good God! Masithela could talk with such authority about the Orlando Pirates of the early 1960s as if he was narrating events that took place a few months ago.
His knowledge of football was not limited to Orlando Pirates. As someone born in Bloemfontein, he was a true believer in Mangaung United when this side ranked among the best in the country and knew the club's history inside-out.
He was as passionate about Phunya Sele Sele (Bloemfontein Celtic) and gave me some not so well-known nuggets of information about arguably South Africa's most well supported team.
Masithela never got tired of speaking about those great teams of yesteryear - football teams such as Pretoria Spa Sporting Club, Witbank Aces, Moroka Swallows Big XV, Pimville United Brothers, Pretoria Bantu Callies and Kaizer Chiefs of the early 1970s.
No discussions of football could ever end without him mentioning illustrious players such as Percy "Chippa" Moloi, Kaizer Motaung, Frank "ABC" Motsepe, Lucas "Masterpieces" Moripe, Alfred "Ace" Mgedeza and Chris "Rollaway" Ndlovu.
Death can truly be cruel. Masithela was looking forward to the World Cup but, less than six months before the start of what would have been one of the most important moments of his life, God and the gods of the Bakoena chose to take him away.
Masithela could wax as lyrical about boxing legends such as Enoch "Schoolboy" Nhlapo, Joe "Axe Killer" Ngidi, Sexton "Wonderboy" Mabena and many other Bloemfontein fighters I had never heard of.
Like most of his generation, he worshipped The Greatest boxer, Muhammad Ali.
He was a jazz fundi, great cook, voracious reader of anything readable (books, magazines and newspapers). Thulo would have turned 60 in June, had he not died of cancer of the throat.
Masithela is survived by his mother Mme Mmathato Masithela, a sister Motsheoa, two sons (Nthokong and Ruby) and two nieces, Mamello and Kelebone.
He will be buried in Bloemfontein tomorrow.