Friday, April 27, 2012

28th April My Birthday and full of memories

Its 28th April again and two things that always come to my mind. Firstly, it brings sweet memories as it’s a day I celebrate my birthday and secondly, it brings bad memories as on my 10th birthday in 1993, we got the sad news of the football team that perished in Gabon. I was never a fan of soccer until my 10th birthday. All I would hear of is mum talking about Derby Makinka as he was mum’s favorite player in the Zambia National Team.

Fallen heroes at Independence stadium (28.04.1993)
President Chiluba mourns with the relatives of the heroes
19 years have passed since the tragedy happened and we were robes of great players that would have lifted the Tunisia 1994 Africa Cup of Nations trophy. God allowed such a tragedy to happen and one thing we should always remember is that God is all knowing and nothing takes Him by surprise. He is sovereign in all His dealings. It may not be easy for us to dust off everything that happened on that material day in 1993 especially those that were related to the fallen heroes. For me it did not make much sense when I saw mum shading tears while watching TV as the remains of the heroes were landing at the Airport in Lusaka and taken to Independence Stadium. I was only turning 10 years at the time and there was little that I could understand but as years moved on reality caught up with me as we kept watching the memorials of the fallen heroes year after year. I happen to share the same birth date with Dr Kenneth Kaunda (First President of Zambia) who was born in 1924 and also Saddam Hussein who was born in 1937

Dennis Liwewe and Kalusha Bwalya at the Airport
On this fateful April 28th, 1993, Zambia lost one of the greatest footballers, Godfrey Chitalu. He was a Zambian footballer who is regarded as the greatest Zambian player ever and holds the national team goal-scoring record. Nicknamed 'Ucar', he was a forceful and often temperamental target man who was Zambian footballer of the year a record five times and in 1972 rewrote the record books by scoring 107 goals in all competitions in a single season.

Chitalu in action in 1972
After his retirement, Chitalu went into private life for a while until he resurfaced in the mid-80s as Kabwe Warriors coach. In 1984 he received a life ban after allegedly punching referee Kabalamula Chayu during an abandoned league game which was later scrapped after an appeal. He led the team to the 1987 Zambian league championship and was appointed assistant to coach Samuel Ndhlovu for the national team in the same year and was on the technical bench during Zambia’s 1988 Seoul Olympic Games exploits.

Godfrey Chitalu's grave at Independence stadium
Disaster struck Kabwe Warriors when they were demoted from the top league in 1990 but Chitalu made sure that none of his established team members including Zambian internationals left the club, leading to a swift return to the Super League and he was subsequently crowned 1991 Coach of the Year.

Following Zambia’s surprise defeat to Madagascar in a World Cup Qualifier in Antananarivo in December 1992, coach Ndhlovu was sacked and Chitalu became national team coach with Alex Chola as his assistant. The two put together an exciting team which was tipped to make it all the way to the 1994 World Cup but as fate would have it, Zambia’s incredible goal king perished along with the rest of the team off the Gabonese coast in the horrific air disaster. Chitalu had a record of 5 wins and 1 draw with 14 goals scored and 3 conceded.

Kalusha Bwalya visits the graves of his teammates
In 1994, I then began to fall in love with football and it was the first time I was watching the Africa Cup of Nations which took us to the Finals where we lost to Nigeria 2-1 though we scored first with a nice header from Elijah Litana. I started following football news and everything that surrounded football, I even reached a level of knowing personal information of Zambian players and from which club each player came from. Kalusha Bwalya, Johnstone Bwalya, Kenneth Malitoli and Elijah Litana were my favorite players when I just started enjoying football. 

Other than Zambian football, I am also a big fan of Manchester United Football Club in England and I like watching them play. Right now we are on top of the Barclays Premier League and hopefully we shall get the trophy at the end of the season.

Zambia National Soccer team (1988)
Zambia National Soccer team (1993)

Zambia National Soccer team (1996)

Zambia National Soccer team (1998)

Zambia National Soccer team (2000)

The current Chipolopolo - Zambia National Soccer team that brought the trophy to Zambia (2012)

Other events in history about April includes:

American April assassinations:
Abraham Lincoln
Martin Luther King Junior
Martin Luther King Junior and former president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, these supported people with African origin living in the United States. President Lincoln did not support slavery and he is best known for that. 

He was assassinated on 15th April 1965. Martin Luther King came on the scene and he spoke for the African-Americans which forced the then president, Lyndon Johnson to sign a civil right bill into law that gave the people of colour the right to vote. Martin Luther King did not live to see his dream come true, he was assassinated on 4th April, 1968. 

James Monroe

I happen to share the same birthday with James Monroe who was the 5th President of the United States of America, he was born on the 28th April 1758 in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He served two terms from 1817 to 1825 and is best known for the Monroe Doctrine which declared the U.S. would not permit any European nation to extend its holdings or use armed force in North or South America. 

The Titanic Disaster, one of the worst maritime disasters in history. The luxury liner Titanic (46,000 gross tons) on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City struck an iceberg about 153 km south of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland just before midnight on April 14, 1912. Of the more than 2,220 persons aboard, about 1,513 died, including the American millionaires John Jacob Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim, and Isidor Straus. The Titanic sailed under British registry as part of the White Star Line, which was owned by a United States company controlled by the financier J.P. Morgan.

The ship had been proclaimed unsinkable because of its 16 watertight compartments. Nevertheless, the iceberg sufficiently damaged the Titanic to make it sink in less than three hours. Subsequent investigations found that the ship had been steaming too fast in dangerous waters, that the captain had ignored radio transmissions warning of ice, that lifeboat space had been provided for only about half of the passengers and crew, and that the Californian, close to the scene, had not come to the rescue because its radio operator was off duty and asleep. These findings led to many reforms, such as lifeboat space for every person on a ship, lifeboat drills, the maintenance of a full-time radio watch while at sea, and an international ice patrol.

The sinking of the Titanic has been the subject of several books and films, including the Hollywood blockbuster, Titanic (1998). It was not until September 1985 that the actual wreck was found resting under about 3,800 m of water. The area was photographed by a joint French-United States expedition through the use of robot submersibles equipped with television cameras. In July 1986 the U.S. researchers, led by American deep-sea explorer Robert Ballard, explored the Titanic in the three-person Alvin submersible; they took pictures of the interior, but recovered no artifacts. The following year a controversial French salvage effort retrieved dishes, jewels, currency, and other artifacts, which were exhibited in Paris in September 1987 and in Hamburg in 1997. In August 1998 a substantial section of the ship’s outer hull was recovered from the sea floor. Surveying and investigation of the wreck continues.


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