I doubt that Kaizer Motaung knew, when he left the legendary soccer club Orlando Pirates, that he would change the face of football in South Africa.
The birth of Motaung's Kaizer Chiefs Football Club in January 1970 turned the sports fraternity on its head and reshaped football in this country for decades to come.
Where once dominance of the game was the sole preserve of Pirates and Moroka Swallows, the arrival of the young Turks - Motaung and the likes of Ewert "The Lip" Nene and Ratha Mokgoatleng - shattered the status quo. With its message of love and peace, and a new form of management styled on Motaung's experience in the North American Soccer League, the team immediately took off.
By the late 1970s Chiefs were a keen challenger for the league and for trophies. This was to be the team's heyday. The names Patrick Pule "Ace" Ntsoelengoe, Nelson "Teenage" Dladla, Jan "Malombo" Lichaba, Abednigo "Shaka" Ngcobo and goalkeeper Joseph "Banks" Setlhodi became synonymous with beautiful, entertaining, aggressive football that delighted supporters.
As a young, footballobsessed pupil in those days, the school year began with my peers and me lovingly decorating the covers of our books with pictures of Chiefs stars. We did not have the means to go near a football stadium, far away in Johannesburg, but every Saturday and Sunday afternoon at 3pm we would be glued to a radio set, straining and gasping to the ebb and flow of the game.
The hyperbole so characteristic of radio sports commentators was no problem. We loved the heart-stopping moments when we thought the opposing team - whether it was a lowly Arcadia Shepherds or a rampant Moroka Swallows - had netted a goal, only to be told after an agonisingly long pause that the ball had gone over the cross-bar.
In the 1980s, the highlight of the year was the Mainstay Cup, which Chiefs contested fiercely with the two other Soweto giants, Pirates and Swallows. If the final came down to Chiefs against Swallows, we knew we would be both entertained and harried by the antics of the "dribbling wizard" Joel "Ace" Mnini.
His ball-juggling skills were legendary and he was known to bamboozle defenders with such dexterous moves that some would find themselves head-butting each other while he escaped the melee to score.
If our opponents in the final were Pirates then Ephraim "Jomo" Sono would without doubt bag a goal. We would pray that the beloved Ntsoelengoe, campaigning in the US, would be back to even things somewhat. And he would. And the mighty Kaizer Chiefs, in a packed Orlando Stadium, would produce magic to put an unbelievable joy into the heart of a young boy in a remote village in the middle of nowhere - and in the hearts of millions of fans across the country.
Today, Kaizer Chiefs is a shadow of its former self. Last week we suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the upstart Mamelodi Sundowns. The week before . let me not go there. Last season was a disaster.
The deliriousness displayed after Saturday's 6-0 win over AmaZulu merely underlines the truth about this team: we are now such also-rans that a win against a rusty team like AmaZulu makes us believe we are the best in the world.
The club's management is disdainful of the fans, with Motaung's son Bobby telling the press last year that he was not going to let go of the reins at Chiefs: "Bobby Motaung goes nowhere. I'm not elected here. I was not appointed by the ANC or IFP. I will be here as long as this company exists."
Kaizer Chiefs is not a company. It is a way of life, a way of being. It belongs to the many fans who defied their fathers and mothers and followed this team. It would be nothing today if it were not for the fans.
Which brings me to my point. At what stage do empires atrophy and then die? Is Chiefs at the point where it has become fat, self-satisfied and disdainful of its fans?
And others? Inkatha has atrophied and is dying with the ageing of its founder and president, Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Its popularity has declined so steeply over the past three elections that we can now start writing the obituaries.
Chiefs is a classic example of an empire on its last legs. So is the IFP.
Eighteen years after its unbanning, is the ANC an example of yet another empire crumbling because it has forgotten its core base, the people who put it in power and made it what it is?
Why are so many communities rising up against the ANC? Why are its members at war with each other?