The Jack that I knew

The last time I had a chat with the fallen football legend Jack ‘Africa’ Chamangwana was at a club along Magalasi Road just after his team Be Forward Wanderers sealed the TNM Super League title last season.

It was all light-hearted stuff that included turning back the hands of time to our childhood days when my ‘dudes’ and I would go to BAT Ground without a penny and jump the wall fence and then sell dummies to police officers just to watch him and the likes of Lawrence ‘Lule’ Waya and the Malunga brothers—Holman and Kennedy—turn on the magic.

Jack had such a high sense of humour and in the course of our chat, I mentioned about recurring back problems I had been experiencing and his advice was: “Kumapanga ma exercise angoni. Ma ‘push ups’ asamangokhala akuchipinda iyayi.”  And later on, he said: “Aaah kodi angoni, ma calls mukumalandira ikakhala turn yanu yogula mowa bwanji?”

This was the real Jack that I knew, who despite his legendary status, that included captaining the Flames for over eight years and, in the process guiding them to their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations qualification in 1984, winning the East and Central Africa Challenge Cup twice in 1978 and 1979, he remained his humble self.

An epicentre of defiance at the back who took no prisoners such that legendary Zambian commentator Dennis Liwewe could not help but nickname him ‘Africa’, suggesting that he was the best defender on the continent during his time. Oh, yes, this was a man who was good enough to coach a big team such as South African Glamour Boys Kaizer Chiefs, famously guiding them to several silverware.

Perhaps that is why Kaizer Motaung, owner of Chiefs, summed up his tribute with the words: “What a gentleman!” And I cannot agree more. Go well true legend, hamba kahle! Uloliwe, uloliwe wayidudula, nen’gesiza hah! (Oh yes, the train is pushing). Glory be to God. n

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