Ephraim “Jomo” Sono
Jomo Sono as he is affectionately known was born in Orlando East in Soweto, Johannesburg on 17 July 1955. At the age of 8, his father Eric “Scara” Bamuza Sono, a midfielder for Orlando Pirates in the 1960s, died from a car crash. At the time his mother abandoned him. Sono met his mother again when he was 34 years old through a newspaper article. Sono was left in the care of his ailing grandparents in a tiny Soweto home. At the age of ten he used to sell apples and peanuts at soccer games and train stations in order to clothe himself, buy food for his grandparents and go to school.
Sono was given the nickame “ Jomo” meaning a burning spear, by Rocks Mthembu, a pirate fan, who saw in him the same leadership qualities as those of Jomo Kenyatta, president of Kenya. Fate played a part in him turning into a soccer player. One of the in-field players was absent in a soccer match and Sono was called to stand in for the player and that was the beginning of his soccer career. Sono used to torment soccer defenders with his dribbling and accurate passing skills. Having accomplished everything with Orlando Pirates, Sono went to USA and played for New York Cosmos alongside the greatest footballer of all time, Pele. After his stint in USA, Sono purchased the status of Highlands Park and renamed the team Jomo Cosmos. Apart from winning the National Soccer League in 1987, Bobsave Super Bowl in 1990, Cola Cola Cup in 2002 and Super eight in 2003 his team has consistently finished among the top teams in the league.
Sono is credited with sporting talent from rural areas and most of his recruits formed the nucleus of the South African National Squad (Bafana Bafana) that won the African Cup of Nations in 1996. Philemon Masinga, Helman Mkhalele, late Sizwe Motaung and Mark Fish are some of the players whom Sono recruited and went on to play for the national team and overseas teams. That year Sono was a technical advisor to the head coach Clive Barker. In 1998 he led Bafana Bafana to a second position in the African Cup of Nations held in Burkina Faso and was the head coach of the national team in 2002 world cup in Japan/South Korea. Sono has been labelled many names throughout his football and coaching career such as Black Prince, Trouble maker, Kop, Truth Commission, King of African Soccer, Kans vatter, Time-Bomb and many more. Most of them came because of his soccer skills and straight forwardness in demanding transparency within soccer administration.
Sono is also a reputable businessman who has made a profit by developing players and selling them to overseas teams. He also owns a number of businesses around Johannesburg and a chairman of numerous companies. He currently stays in Houghton three blocks away from Nelson Mandela's house. He is married with four children, two boys and two girls.