The day Sidney lost his mind

08 Jan, 2022 - 00:01 0 Views
The day Sidney lost his mind TRUE BROTHERS . . . Leicester City’s US$31,6m forward Patrick Daka (second from left) poses for a picture with his Zambian teammate Enock Mwepu (right), Harare businessman, Sydney “Bolt’’ Hambira (left) and former Lusaka Mayor, Miles Sampa, outside Rainbow Towers in Harare in March last year

The Herald

Sharuko on Saturday

ONCE upon a time, we were one country, one nation, one people divided by a mighty river, united by our proximity.

Before that, we even shared a name, the difference being found only in our geographical location — one being in the north, the other in the South.

Even now, after independence, we still share the same initial identity and we are the only two countries in the world whose names start with the letter “Z”.

Zimbabwe and Zambia!

We share one of the Seven wonders of the world — the mighty Victoria Falls, the smoke that thunders, even though God gave us the best seat in the house, for the best view.

They have a city called Livingstone, on the edges of the Falls, we have a city called Victoria Falls, on the other side, both names a reminder of our past connection to Britain.

David Livingstone’s giant statue stands proudly on our side of the Falls.

As if the great explorer is still watching scenes so lovely, which could only have been gazed by angels, in their flight.

Probably still wondering how all these years later, these magical falls are still such box office attractions to a world that is very different from the one he lived in.

Man has since walked on the moon, built a nuclear bomb and created a company with a market value of a staggering US$3 trillion, the dizzy heights which US mega firm Apple touched this week, as everything around the world has changed.

But, the more things change, the more they also tend to stay the same. People, including Hollywood superstars, still find the Victoria Falls something irresistible to ignore.

Arnold Schwarzenegger came, not once, but twice, in 2003 and 2004, as the Terminator melted in the presence of the natural beauty, which only these Falls can provide.

The Knight Rider, David Hasselhoff, also came along with the father, in 1986, before bringing his fiancé in 2011.

If you still find yourself fascinated by him, in one way or the other, despite all the years which have passed since we used to ensure we would stick around to watch the Knight Rider on television, then you don’t have to accuse yourself of being old-fashioned.

After all, he has a place in the Guinness Book of Records, as the most watched man in the history of television.

Michael Jackson, considered by many as the greatest musician of all-time, also visited the Victoria Falls in 1998.

And, MJ, was so blown away by what he saw that he even suggested that his production team should create a replica of the Falls, as a backdrop to his live performances, every time he was on stage.

Roman Abramovich, the billionaire Chelsea owner, followed in 2009, and three years ago, UEFA president, Aleksander Ceferin, arrived in town, together with his family, for a tour of the Falls.

It’s a path which Queen Elizabeth II travelled, exactly 75 years ago, when she came down to see these majestic Falls, named after her grandmother.

She was only 21.

Two years earlier, World War II had ended, Europe was still reeling from the madness, slaughter and destruction that had come with the global conflict.

And, to try and escape from all those apocalyptic images, which were still dominating the front pages of British newspapers, the youthful queen came to Victoria Falls.

Ten years ago, her daughter, Princess Anne, retraced her mother’s path as she visited the Falls as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.

They say it’s even difficult for one to easily pick out that this is a Zambian, in the event he or she chooses to walk the streets of Harare.

And, they also say it’s difficult to quickly pick out that this is a Zimbabwean, in the event he or she chooses to walk the streets of Lusaka.

Until these people open their mouths, to utter a word or two, it’s very unlikely one can really recognise that they are either Zambians or Zimbabweans.

In palaeontology, which is the scientific study of life which used to exist about 11 700 years ago, they came up with the “Broken Hill Skull,” a Stone Age fossil found in a cave in Kabwe.

Two years ago, scientists said the “Broken Hill Skull” shows there was human existence, around the Kabwe area of Zambia, between 274 000 to 324 000 years ago.

In 1921, the late Sir Arthur Smith Woodward, a leading British palaeontologist who died on September 2, 1944, gave the “Broken Hill Skull” a name and called it the “Rhodesian Man.”

In his analysis, those who lived in the Kabwe area, just like those who lived on the southern part, across the Zambezi, were just one group of people.

Whether that explains why the leading football club, which represents the Kabwe area, decided to give itself an identity, similar to ours, by calling itself ‘Kabwe Warriors,’ is something not clear.

What we know is that in 1995, Kabwe Warriors, became the first representative Zambian side, to fall to a foreign club, in fortress Independence Stadium, in a CAF inter-club football match.

George Mbwando scored a hattrick as Blackpool won 3-1, in a CAF Cup Winners Cup match, in Lusaka.

Maybe, the scientists, who say we are the Zambians and the Zimbabweans are the same people, will argue that it’s not right to suggest that the triumph by a Zimbabwean side represented the success story of a foreign team.

In their world, this was a local battle.

FOOTBALL BINDS US, EITHER SIDE OF THE ZAMBEZI, IN A SPECIAL WAY

Football is something that we are passionate about on both sides of the Zambezi.

The Battle of the Zambezi is the biggest football game which our two national teams can play and, as if by some crazy design, two of our biggest stars emerged at around the same time, in the ‘80s.

Kalusha Bwalya and Moses Chunga!

Somehow, they both had to land in Belgium, as the first port of call for their European adventure, with Kalusha eventually exploding into the real deal, at Dutch side, PSV Eindhoven.

Poor Moses was left to wonder what might have been had injuries not conspired to ruin his career given that, at one point, his brilliance had even caught the eye of legendary British manager, Brian Clough.

That won him an invitation, in 1986, for trials at Nottingham Forest.

Back then, Forest were not the shell they have become now and, in 1979 and 1980, they won back-to-back European championship crowns.

Around that time, in 1986, a Zambian delegation arrived in Bulawayo, on a special mission, to try and convince the father of late Zimbabwean football star, Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo, to let his side change allegiance, and play for Chipolopolo.

Mawiii was emerging on the scene, and had played for the Young Warriors, where he was one of, if not the standout player, of his generation.

His emergence coincided with the departure of Kalusha, from Zambia to Belgium.

And, the late Zambian President, Kenneth Kaunda, who was such a football fanatic the national team used to be called “KK XI,” there was concern Kalusha’s departure would leave the local scene without its Prince.

Mawiiii’s father had come to Bulawayo, to work on the booming railway industry of the City of Kings, while the bulk of his family remained in Zambia.

Someone must have whispered to KK that the emerging star, in Zimbabwean football, was a product of one of their own and before long a delegation arrived in Bulawayo, to try and get Mawiiii to take his talent to the Zambian league.

Of course, we now know Mawiiii had already made up his mind that the City of Kings was home, that Highlanders was his club and the Warriors were his team.

Which means that, for all the persuasion he received, and all the promises which came with that, Nduna decided to stay put, to serve his beloved City of Kings, his beloved Bosso and his beloved Warriors.

In August 2015, Mawiiiii died, after losing his battle with diabetes and his funeral, in his hometown of Bulawayo, had as many Zambian as Zimbabwean flags, it was a beautiful celebration of the special bond, which unites our two countries.

As fate would have it, the first international football match played by the Zambians was against us, back in 1946, just after the end of World War II.

It was also our first international match, against another country, and the Zambians thrashed us 4-0m to set the tempo of a rivalry which, over the course of time, they would dominate.

The next match was also against them, in 1947, in the year Queen Victoria II came down here to visit the Victoria Falls, and while it also produced four goals, it ended in a 2-2 draw, in Zambia.

Incredibly, the third match, in 1948, also produced four goals and, this time, the table turned, and we won 4-0.

So, in three friendly matches over three years, the statistics showed that we just could not be separated, each country had won one game, by a similar 4-0 margin.

The other match had ended in a draw and, somehow, it had also produced four goals.

Others will argue that even now, just like 75 years ago, when it all started, we simply just can’t be separated, in football, just like in life.

They will argue that it’s not a coincidence that our last two matches, in the 2021 AFCON qualifiers, also produced two goals for the winner in Lusaka, and two goals for the winner, in Harare.

When they add those goals, they come up with the number four.

They will argue that it’s not a coincidence, too, that in both matches, in Lusaka and in Harare, the goal-scorer was the same — the posterboys of either side.

Khama Billiat grabbed the brace, to power the Warriors to victory in Lusaka, while Patson Daka, also grabbed a brace, to power Chipolopolo to victory, in Harare.

Of course, eventually we were separated, we finished the campaign with eight points, and qualified for the AFCON finals with a game to spare, while the Zambians finished with seven points.

The game that they beat us here, in the argument of our clueless former coach, Zdravko Laogarusic, was of academic interest, since we had already sealed our place in Cameroon.

SIDNEY DISRESPECTED CHIPOLOPOLO IN HIS HOUR OF SHAME

What we can’t argue about is that the Zambians, generally, have done better than us, when it comes to international football because, in this game, numbers don’t lie.

They were runners-up at the 1974 AFCON finals in Egypt, they finished third at the 1982 AFCON finals in Libya, they finished second at the 1994 AFCON finals and they finished third at the 1996 AFCON finals.

Of course, 10 years ago, they transformed themselves into champions of Africa.

They were ranked as high as number 15, in the world, between February to May ’96 and they have also produced a player good enough to be crowned African Footballer of the Year.

Others will argue that Godfrey Chitalu should also have been named African Footballer of the Year while those who also question why Peter Kaumba, or Alex Chola, never came close to being mentioned in these awards, have a valid argument.

One of the most popular foreigners, to ply their trade in this country, remains Derby Mankinka, the Zambian midfielder, who sadly died in that plane crash, off the coast of Gabon, in 1993.

We cried for Derby, because he was one of us, the same way we cried for each and every member of the Chipolopolo side, who lost their lives in that disaster.

Not even the mighty Zambians could divide us, in our hour of mourning, and when the Zambians won the AFCON title, in 2012, we celebrated it, as if it had been won by the Warriors.

It gave us hope that, if Chris Katongo could win it, surely one of our boys could win it too, after all, just like our boys, they had spent some time playing together in Supa Diski.

That’s what brothers do.

Against that background, it was therefore disappointing this week to hear the Football Association of Zambia media officer, Sidney Mungala, come out in the open to suggest he could barely wait for our Warriors to be kicked out of the 2021 AFCON finals, by FIFA.

Of course, we can’t blame Sidney for our plight, and how we came close to being barred from taking at the Nations Cup finals.

Those are our domestic affairs but one would probably have expected Sidney, given he is an expert in media issues, to deal with the issue with a sense of calm, rather than excitement.

 “We have followed keenly the development in Zimbabwe and have always remained open to being part of the Nations Cup if Zimbabwe is banned,” he told BBC Sport Africa.

“Given the length of the time before the tournament kicks off, we would have hoped that this matter would have been resolved by now.

“It would definitely present a challenge (bringing in their best players at short notice) but we believe the CAF/FIFA regulations would be able to help us, should the situation arise, where we become part of the Nations Cup.

“Additionally, we believe our players would relish the opportunity to represent their country at the continent’s biggest showpiece.”

Of course, they would Sidney, but it’s something that is earned, by winning matches on the pitch, and not waiting to come through the back door, and angling for an opponent to be kicked out.

Especially when that opponent is your neighbour, the only brothers you have known, bonded forever by the Zambezi River.

To tell the world that you had “hope that this matter would have been resolved by now,” in the hope that the Warriors would have been kicked out by now, for the benefit of Chipolopolo, was a low blow.

It also reminded us of how the mighty have fallen.

Maybe, in a way, that explains why Chipolopolo have failed to qualify for the last three AFCON finals, including two tournaments, where the number of participants is about half the entire CAF family.

It’s hard to imagine this is the same team, which came to Harare, shortly after the plane disaster, and pocketed the point they wanted, to qualify for the ’94 AFCON finals.

They didn’t write to us, as their brothers, to consider their plight, after having lost virtually their entire team and, in the spirit of brotherhood, forfeit the game to them, to cheer their spirits, with a place at the ’94 AFCON finals.

They didn’t write to Morocco, as fellow Africans, to consider their plight, after losing most of their first team players and, in the spirit of brotherhood, forfeit the game to them, for Chipolopolo to qualify for the ’94 World Cup finals.

They battled like real Zambian heroes, on the football pitch, and found a way to beat us, to the ticket to the ’94 Nations Cup finals.

There, they didn’t ask the other teams to clear the path for them, into the final, because they were still a grieving nation.

Instead, they fought like real heroes, for the brothers they lost, and reached the final, where they lost narrowly to the best Super Eagles side in history.

That’s what we expect from Chipolopolo and not these sideshows to try and benefit on a technicality because a brother has been disqualified.

Surely, that’s not what a country with players like Fashion Sakala, Patson Daka and Enoch Mwepu can be praying for.

A 24-team AFCON finals Sidney is an invitational tournament and if you miss it, not once but twice, take a look into the mirror and deal with your shortcomings rather than wait for a team to be expelled, for you to take part.

In case you didn’t know, even the Comoros are in Cameroon.

To God Be The Glory!

Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton, Daily Service, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and all the Chakariboys still in the struggle.

 Come on Warriors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Musonaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

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