Tragedy to Triumph: 7 Years On – Zambia’s Story

There I was; About to start the most professionally run FIFA tournament I had ever been to.

Venue: Some dudes room at uni with two massive screens, a trophy & buckets upon buckets of KFC chicken. Ultimate lads night in! Between games, I was constantly refreshing my phone for live updates on Zambia’s opening match against Senegal at Afcon 2012.

Truth be told, I was confidently pessimistic that my beloved Zambia would retain their title of “Serial Underachievers!” In European football, I’d compare us to The Netherlands; Well respected, unexpected, but won’t win squat!

‘How soon till we’re out?’ I thought.

Add to this a hint of mild frustration at the draw we had and our potential routes to the final which would see us face all the big guns, if we so dared. All the negativity aside, I was quietly excited.

GROUP STAGE

Game 1:

Zambia vs Senegal

To set the scene; Senegal were pre-tournament favourites along with Ghana and the Ivory Coast. In the absence of Egypt (who had won the three previous tournaments) and the Super Eagles of Nigeria, they saw this as their trophy.

At the time, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse (both prolific goalscorers at Newcastle United) alongside Moussa Sow were among the most feared partnerships on the continent. On paper, this game was over before it had ever began. However, Zambia took a quick & impressive 2-0 lead which lasted well into the second half when they conceded 1. In the end, they hung on for a rather unexpected but well deserved three points.

Full Time: Zambia 2-1 Senegal


Game 2:

Zambia vs Libya

Onto the next one and along came Libya. I was amazed to see the game still went ahead in such treacherous conditions. Historically, Zambia have struggled against North African opposition. As a child, the name Hossam Hassan or Mohamed Aboutrika (both of Egypt) sent shivers down my spine.

In the end, Zambia fought hard in the conditions and came from behind twice to earn a brilliant point.

Full Time: Zambia 2-2 Libya


Game 3:

Zambia vs Equatorial Guinea

With charismatic French coach Herve Renard at the helm, Zambia headed into their final group match against joint hosts Eq. Guinea. This was a chance to win the group.

18 years earlier, a tragedy of unimaginable proportions took place off the shores of the co-hosts, Gabon. A plane carrying the Zambia national football team crashed into the sea killing everyone on board. The recent tragedies of Cardiff City’s new signing Emeliano Sala and the helicopter crash that killed Leicester City’s owner and others brought back reflections of that tragic day.

I was only 1 when it happened, but grew up in the aftermath of the event with the massive re-building job in the 90’s. The effects on the country were strong and the passion and emotion connected to football was understandably prominent.

Going into this game, my fear was that the emotion of the event and the dreaded home advantage would kill our momentum. Besides, I had grown up with years of Zambia almost doing something big, but eventually settling for disappointment (hence the earlier pessimism).

The game itself was tough against the tournament debutants, but in the end a lone goal from captain Christopher Katongo settled the matter. This result meant we finished top of Group A and avoided the other tournament favourites, Ivory Coast.

Full Time: Zambia 1-0 Equatorial Guinea


QUARTER FINALS

Zambia vs Sudan

It was straight knockout from here on. You lose, you leave!

We were pitted against the Sudanese ‘Falcons of Jediane.’ With Zambia’s ‘Copper Bullets’ firepower proving too much in the end, it was the end of another team with an animal nickname – cue all the memes about poaching. In truth, it was a fairly comfortable / convincing 3-0 win. In my lifetime, I had never seen Zambia in the semi-finals of such a huge tournament and I was too young to remember our run to the final in 1994 which ended in defeat to Nigeria. But now, the toughest test lay ahead.

Full Time: Zambia 3-0 Sudan


SEMI FINALS

Zambia vs Ghana

Wow! This was it. The end of the road.. surely!

4 years earlier, I watched helplessly from the stands as Ghana systematically destroyed Zambia 4-1 in a friendly at Leyton Orient’s ground, London.

On that occasion, they had Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari & Stephen Appiah to name a few legends of the African game. This time round, they still had Muntari, along with rising stars Asamoah Gyan, Andre and Jordan Ayew. I considered them the Germany of African football – Efficient, consistent and always making it to the semi finals. Just 2 years earlier, they were on the brink of making history by becoming African’s first ever World Cup Semi-Finalists – but were denied by the hand of Luis Suarez and the foot of Asamoah Gyan. Their form had hardly dipped in the intermediate time, so this was going to be an uphill battle.

But low and behold, little Zambia [who stood NO chance – if you listened to the self-acclaimed ‘football experts’] did the impossible. Emmanuel Mayuka with the faint, followed by the perfect curling shot inside the post sent every Zambian momentarily off the planet in celebration. Wowzer!

What.A.Moment!

I remember being in the minority of people celebrating that goal in the students union on campus – along with my legendary Welsh housemate and a few Nigerian fans (you know how they get on with Ghana! lol). One more win away from History!

Zambia had previously built a squad capable of beating a near full-strength Italian team 4-0 at the 1988 Olympics. But in 1993, that golden generation had been stripped away in the most abrupt and tragic of circumstances. This win was about more than just football. A nation had been brought to her knees in mourning, but now it was time to rise up and honour those who died.

Full Time: Zambia 1-0 Ghana


THE FINAL

Zambia vs Ivory Coast

Now for the big one. The cherry on the cake.

The undeniable favourites, highest ranked team at the time, highest profile players from the best leagues in the world – meet the Ivory Coast (aka The Elephants). Even if our ‘Copper Bullets’ (aka. Chipolopolo) would strike against this lot, it would take a lot to bring these giants down.

If the semi final was a test against the most efficient and consistent team, this was a test against the absolute best in their prime.

With Didier Drogba (Chelsea) the charismatic talisman, Yaya & Kolo Toure (Manchester City), Gervinho (Arsenal) & Salomon Kalou (Chelsea) among many star names, this wasn’t just an uphill battle, but an impossible task.

I could literally go on naming players that were important members of league winning sides in top European teams. If this game was played on paper, no way did we stand a chance. Even my faint optimism at this point didn’t give me any hope.

The game itself surprised me as Zambia started off at flying speed creating many chances throughout. Didier Drogba missed a penalty during the 90 mins and the game went into extra time and then penalties at 0-0.

Penalty Shootout.

The most superb, intense, and gripping shootout I have ever seen – not just because it was my team involved, but everyone scored. With the score at 7-7 in sudden death, Kolo Toure (Ivory Coast/Chelsea) missed giving Zambia the chance to win it. Unfortunately, Rainford Kalaba (Zambia/TP Mazembe) did likewise and we were back to square one. This was never going to end. Then Gervinho (Ivory Coast/Arsenal) sent the ball out of the stadium with his shot (slight exaggeration, but it looked that way) giving Zambia another chance to seal the deal.

Up stepped a confident young man, Stopilla Sunzu – Already a Zambian legend no matter the outcome, singing along to the song the Zambian players had been singing throughout the shootout. A song in that moment that embodied the spirit of the team that had carried them from the bleak ashes of tragedy to the very brink of victory. As the late-great football commentator Dennis Liwewe poignantly put it; “never again will we go to Gabon and return without dignity and honour.”

Sunzu duly dispatched his penalty with ease, sending the keeper the wrong way and a nation into rapture.

Why do I love football so much, I hear you ask? For moments like these. From tragedy to triumph.

By Gome, author @ Reposed Thought

Image Links:

Cover Photo / Zambia vs Ivory Coast: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2100183/AFRICA-CUP-OF-NATIONS-2012-Zambia-0-Ivory-Coast-0-AET-8-7-pens–Zambia-win-tournament.html

Zambia vs Senegal: https://allafrica.com/view/match/main/main/id/0E4Jr9KiCh9Asyuk.html

Zambia vs Libya: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/16734188

Zambia vs Eq Guinea: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/16734188

Zambia vs Sudan: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2012/feb/04/zambia-sudan-africa-cup-of-nations

Zambia vs Ghana: https://allafrica.com/view/match/main/main/id/0EAw8YEuOfjdlZAX.html

Drawing Challenge #9

The aim is to do as many detailed drawings as possible, as often as possible, to fill up my sketchbook by the end of the year.


54 years ago today, Zambia gained independence from Britain – A costly victory as many lost their lives in the pursuit of freedom for fellow countrymen and women.

For today’s drawing challenge, I’ve chosen a symbolic sketch from the capital city, Lusaka. It is of the “Independence Banner” as you enter the city from the airport road.

The colours of the flag signify the following:

  • Green – The beautiful green landscape across the country
  • Orange – Mineral wealth (mainly copper)
  • Black – Majority of the population
  • Red – The blood shed in the fight for independence
  • The Eagle – We can sore above our differences (incl tribalism) and be, as first president Kenneth Kaunda called it – “One Zambia, One Nation!”

Time-lapse sketch

Zambia: Day Twelve – Fly-Tripping

Background: Recent extracts from my travel journal taken at the end of each day whilst on holiday in Zambia, my home country. Enjoy!

Day Twelve:

The early morning flight out of Lusaka that left at 1am, should have been a straight forward affair. It would pass through Lilongwe, then Nairobi and finally London.

However, what transpired was quite the opposite. On approaching Lilongwe (Malawi), there was a very thick and low-lying fog which rapidly reduced visibility. After a period of hours circling around the airport with several failed attempts to land, the pilot was advised to make the 1 hour journey back to Lusaka.

Trivia: this was the first time I took off and landed at the same airport.

It was frustrating enough for people connecting flights in Nairobi, but possibly more so for those going to Lilongwe as they got a glimpse of there final destination only to be led back to where it began.

Another few hours in and out of sleep whilst on the Lusaka runway and the sun came out. I remember waking up to medics attending to a woman 2 rows behind who was led off the flight for some reason. My travel partner assumed it was a nervous first time flyer as several prayers were heard whilst hovering over Lilongwe.

We were finally off to Kenya around 9am. The connection in Kenya was due to leave at 8:30, so we missed it. The airline arranged a hotel for us to spend the night in Nairobi and catch the same flight the next day.

Nairobi, Kenya


The initial frustration of this added extra journey was soon replaced by the realised opportunity to explore a new city in a new country. Fun times!


Nairobi lunch time rush hour on route to the hotel.


Nairobi had a ‘big city’ feel about it. All the traffic, huge road network, high rises and crowds of people gave me that impression.


Not bad for an unplanned hotel stop off.


And then there were the rooms 😮 wow!


Great views to end another long and incredibly tiring day.

Thanks for joining me these past few weeks. Hope I get the chance to do this again soon!

Peace,

Gome

Zambia: Day Eleven – Final Goodbye

Background: Recent extracts from my travel journal taken at the end of each day whilst on holiday in Zambia, my home country. Enjoy!

Day Eleven:

Our final day! And how quickly it had come round. Today, much like the first, was riddled with tales of mild frustration mostly due to poor customer services. However, we were determined to not let these get in the way of an enjoyable last day.

The trip now seemed way too short and we weren’t able to see everyone we’d hoped to. One or two reunions almost happened, but sadly fell though at the last. Still, it was nice to touch base with the place I call “home-home.”

Pics whilst out and about…


A government building or embassy, I guess..

Quite possibly my favourite version of VW Golf.. maybe it’s the ‘wow factor’ whenever I saw one as a kid?

Cool looking office block..

Close to Embassy Park where the country’s late presidents are all burried..

Independence Avenue.. Quite a fitting name as Zambia has enjoyed (to this point) 52 years of independence and relative peace. Praying it may long continue.

Outside State House – The Presidents crib..

And finally, our last bit of African sunset before heading back to England. What an incredible trip, seeing family and friends, enjoying some sunshine, and touching base with home.

Following on from this photo journal series on Zambia, I hope to delve more into the world of series writing. I feel it offers greater scope for regular writing, reflecting and opinion pieces.

Has it been at all insightful or interesting? Please let me know in the comments. All feedback appreciated.

Stay tuned for days 12 and 13; the eventful, and rather stressful return journey to England.

God bless x

Zambia: Day Ten – Recuperation

Background: Recent extracts from my travel journal taken at the end of each day whilst on holiday in Zambia, my home country. Enjoy!

Day Ten:

After all the pacing around of the last few days, today was a much needed rest day. The only trip of significance was to a local clinic. Along the way, we past through Ibex Hill, a residential area with some beautiful homes. Here are a few of them.









More to follow soon..

Peace

Zambia: Day Nine – Heaven’s Opened

Background: Recent extracts from my travel journal taken at the end of each day whilst on holiday in Zambia, my home country. Enjoy!

Day Nine:

What a change it was. From boiling hot one day, to a heavy downpour the next.

Today was the first day of our trip that it rained, and my goodness did it. It’s the rainy season at the moment in Zambia and the rains provide some spectacular scenery with thunder storms and lightening.

Dealing with customer services was a tad frustrating today, but we met two brilliant cab drivers along the way who made for interesting conversation.

FNB bank at Arcades Shopping Mall. Not long before the heavy downpour.

All we could do was wait for it to settle down. Not really a day for taking pictures.

As it wasn’t a day to be out and about, there was only one place to hang out. My favourite take away from back in the day. Now it felt a bit too greasy but still lush!

Zambia: Day Eight – Out And About

Background: Recent extracts from my travel journal taken at the end of each day whilst on holiday in Zambia, my home country. Enjoy!

Day Eight:

Today was possibly the busiest day of the whole trip as we dashed around Lusaka, visiting lots of family and friends. Some for two minutes, some for two hours. Each reunion memorable.

Not sure what building this is, but it had a “government complex” sort of feel, or something for “officials.” It looks like a building symbolic of power with its solid, concrete face overlooking us commoners that dared to pass by.

This building is next to Arcades Mall just off Great East Road.


Hotel (I think) behind Arcades.

New office tower under construction. Took it from a different angle yesterday.

And finally, we passed through Manda Hill shopping mall, built several years ago as the first of many in Zambia. It had a major facelift since it’s original design to help keep up with the newer, more plush malls like Levy Junction and East Park Mall.

Zambia: Day Seven – Lord’s Day

Background: Recent extracts from my travel journal taken at the end of each day whilst on holiday in Zambia, my home country. Enjoy!

Day Seven:

We spent our only Sunday in Zambia visiting Kabwata Baptist Church, Lusaka. So good to see and hear so many people singing God’s praises. We joined them during a very challenging series of talks titled  the “lethal poison of hypocrisy.” Here’s a link to the sermon: Hypocrisy and External Righteousness.

Great bumping into old friends after the church service.

Out and about..

The rest of the day was chilled, mostly with friends and family.

Sunday morning traffic in Lusaka (Lsk)

Approaching the Central Business District (CBD) in the distance from Independence Avenue.

Approaching Kafue roundabout from the east.

Old icon: Findeco House standing proud with its iconic silhouette an integral part of the Lusaka skyline.

Cairo Road heading north.

New Society House Tower.

New Society House clad in copper.

Beginning of the Great North Road towards Kabwe, Kapiri Mposhi and the Copperbelt Province.

Great North Road, Lusaka.

Heroes National Stadium..

The home of Zambian football. A week earlier, this stunning venue hosted Zambia’s successful 2-0 win over Senegal in the final of the Afcon under 20’s cup. I can only imagine the crazy scenes out here at the time.

This Stadium has become something of an icon as you enter the city from the north. It’s name draws inspiration from the ashes of our fallen national team of 1993. The national teams plane crashed off the coast of Gabon as Zambia was on it’s way to a world cup qualifier. Everyone on board died killing what was widely regarded as the country’s most talented generation of footballers. I was only 1 at the time, so don’t have first hand memories of the day, but have grown up to understand the significance of that tragic day. Born from the ashes, a new generation of gifted young stars has risen to take their place at the pinnacle of Zambian football, even winning the African Cup of Nations 2012. This is now their home.

New mixed-use tower going up in Olympia, just behind Mulungushi Conference Centre.

And finally, Great East Road heading east passed the University of Zambia.

End of another great day, more to follow tomorrow.

Stay tuned..

Peace

Zambia: Day Six – Goodbye Copperbelt

Background: Recent extracts from my travel journal taken at the end of each day whilst on holiday in Zambia, my home country. Enjoy!

Day Six:

Like the saying goes “all good things come to an end.” Today marked the end of our Copperbelt adventure and it was time to say goodbye. It felt like I was leaving with a renewed love for my home town. Despite things that still need to be done, it feels like it’s heading in the right direction.


Lots of good quality residential developments going up everywhere. This one was on the outskirts of Kitwe.

Back on the road again headed for Ndola.

Clear run of open road ahead. Dual carriageway between Kitwe and Ndola. Once the traffic clears, this is a sweet road to drive on.

Back to Ndola..


And past this place again.


Kafubu Mall, Ndola: With the rise of Zambia’s middle class, a lot more people have disposable cash to spend. This has in turn led to the massive explosion in construction, mainly residential but also in retail. At times it may seem like overkill, but if that’s where the demand lies, then investors would be mad not to cash in. The main concern, however, is that most retailers are foreign owned companies (predominently giant South African chain stores). For a more in-depth look at this issue, take a look at this video on Zambia Construction – Doing business in Africa.


Zambia’s 6th president, HE Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu.

This poster is on your way to Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport and must be a few years old now as the election was in January 2015.

18 Seater Plane..


Till next time Copperbelt, Mi Casa. It’s been a pleasure. Now back to the capital city Lusaka for more of these blue skies.. It’s really like that everyday!

All my qualms about the tiny 56 seater on the way here were quashed by the even smaller 18 seater. You could see the pilot (or driver). 

Lsk..

No fancy sunset shot to end the day on, just a set of grateful travellers having arrived safely.

Join me again tomorrow for day seven.

Peace

Zambia: Day Five – Last of Kitwe

Background: Recent extracts from my travel journal taken at the end of each day whilst on holiday in Zambia, my home country. Enjoy!

Day Five:

Today was spent visiting PIZ College on the outskirts of Kitwe.

The morning was a lot colder and had more of a UK vibe about it with a cool breeze and lingering clouds.


We managed to pass through my primary school again as it opened (twice in one week). It’s like I was going back to school. #goodtimes

Old home..


Whenever I’ve been back to Zambia, I’ve had the privilege of passing through my childhood home.

In my second year studying architecture, we had to draw a house plan from memory of our childhood. So many memories flooded back as I walked through the house in my mind, remembering all the cool little hide and seek spots.


Gated communities and wall-fenced houses are the most common housing type in Zambia, mainly for security reasons and the vast availability of land. The more plush and expensive types can be seen as symbolic of ones status – i.e. having ‘made it’ in life.

PIZ College..


PIZ is a college that seeks to train and develop church leaders in bible handling with the purpose of growing them in their different leadership roles. We got to spent the day there and met some of the lovely and enthusiastic students.

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Out and about on road in Kitwe.

Old church..

Our former church in Kitwe looked absolutely stunning. There had been some renovation done internally and externally since my last trip and it looked in good shape. Unfortunately it was mid week and no one was there, but great non-the-less to touch base and be in the place where my Christian journey began.

Evening..

Fresh fish being prepared for dinner.. Mmm lush!

And yet another perfect sunset to end another beautiful day. So grateful to be back at home to enjoy such weather.

More from the trip to follow.. #loading…