Thursday, June 13, 2024

After 19 years, Zambia returns to honour Gabon crash victims (UPDATED WITH VIDEO)

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”]”During the late evening of Tuesday 27 April 1993 the Zambian Air Force Buffalo DHC-5D carrying most of the Zambian national football team to a FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Senegal in Dakar caught fire and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean about 500 metres offshore near Libreville, Gabon.

The plane had made a refuelling stop in Libreville en route to Dakar. All 30 passengers died, among them most of the finest generation of footballers Zambia had ever ­produced. Eventually 24 bodies were recovered, but only 13 could be identified.

A Gabonese official investigation into the accident concluded that the pilot had shut down the wrong engine after a fire. The investigation found that pilot fatigue and an instrument error had contributed to the accident.The Zambian government is yet to release a full report of the air crash to be unveiled to the public or family members.

Yesterday shortly after arriving in Libreville, where they take on Ivory Coast in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final, the Copper Bullets made their way to the spot where 500 metres offshore a Zambian Air Force flight ditched into the sea, wiping out the national squad.

Only former African Footballer of the Year Kalusha Bwalya avoided one of the great African football tragedies because he was based in the Netherlands with PSV Eindhoven and travelled directly to Dakar from Europe.

Now president of the Zambian Football Federation,Kalusha Bwalya was among the group paying an emotional homage to the dead on a cloudy late afternoon.

Against the gentle sound of the Atlantic waves lapping against the beach he said, with tears in his eyes: “It is no coincidence that we are here today, we have worked hard as a team.

“However I am convinced that our dearly departed brothers who lost their lives here 19 years ago have lent us a helping hand.

“In 1993 the Copper Bullets came here to fulfil a promise, they did not succeed, but instead gave up their lives for a gallant cause.

“Their dream to bring glory to our country, mother Zambia, is the same cause that brings us here today, the only difference is that we are alive and our former teammates are no longer here.

“It is for this reason that I say here today on behalf of all of us involved in Zambian football that their dreams are our dreams, they are smiling down on heaven as we take part in this tournament in Gabon.

“I pray that their souls may forever rest in peace and that God will give us the strength and the courage to fulfil our dreams…. and theirs.”

Bwalya, the players, and coach Herve Renard, had walked along the beach near the airport, singing a Zambian funeral hymn, before coming to a stop at the nearest point on land to the crash.

They then laid ‘flowers of the sea’, one for each person killed, at the water’s edge.

As the first flower was taken by a wave a thunder clap sounded overhead, and in the far horizon a ray of sunshine appeared in a break in the clouds.

Zambia captain Christopher Katongo then led the silent group of mourners in prayer.

A sign of how important this ceremony was to the 2012 squad was evidenced by the fact that not one player had the habitual set of headphones so beloved of football stars dangling around his ears, not one carried an ipod or iphone, each was simply intent on honouring the dead.

Also attending the ceremony was a local man who saw the plane crash, and helped recover parts of wreckage from the disaster.

Zambian Sports minister Chishimba Kambwili was also on hand to pay his respects.

He told the gathering: “Today brings memories, memories of 19 years ago when in the quest to bring glory to Zambia we lost gallant men and women, gallant men on that fateful day.

“Our coming to Gabon today I think by and large is by design. I think God made it this way so we can come and pay back by winning the Africa Cup to our fallen heroes.

“To you my fallen colleagues I want to say that you may be gone, but you will never be forgotten, you can see that you died here 19 years ago, but we’ve come here 19 years after to come and pay tribute and to say thank you for everthing that you did for mother Zambia.”

Before making their return to the team hotel to prepare for Sunday’s clash Bwalya, looking up to the stormy skies, said: “I’m sure the boys up there will be watching on Sunday.”

[Capital FM sport,Wikipedia]

74 COMMENTS

  1. I fell like crying!!God is on our side.The players we lost 19 years ago will be honoured on Sunday.They did not die in vain.There wishes will come true on Sunday.Go Chipolopolo go,Go Zambia,Go….

  2. I feel also that God is great.This is a miracle indeed.God is teaching us a lesson.
    I can’t read everything coz my tears can’t stop dropping.There is a purpose for Zambia to reach this final.How i wish our dreams of bringing Africa cup will come true.I believe if this cup belong to Zambia Ivory coast won’t stand on our way.When this happens i’ll just say God of mercy this is unbelievable.Really Zambians people should take this achievements seriously and thank God.

  3. Well, God is great.This is a miracle indeed.God is teaching us a lesson.
    I can’t read everything coz my tears can’t stop dropping.There is a purpose for Zambia to reach this final.How i wish our dreams of bringing Africa cup will come true.I believe if this cup belong to Zambia Ivory coast won’t stand on our way.When this happens i’ll just say God of mercy this is unbelievable.Really Zambians people should take this achievements seriously and thank God.Thanks

  4. Well, lord is great.This is a miracle indeed.
    I can’t read everything coz my tears can’t stop dropping.There is a purpose for Zambia to reach this final.How i wish our dreams of bringing Africa cup will come true.I believe if this cup belong to Zambia Ivory coast won’t stand on our way.When this happens i’ll just say God of mercy this is unbelievable.Really Zambians people should take this achievements seriously and thank God.Thanks

  5. Oh Libreville, its on your soils the cream of Zambian football perished.

    Oh Libreville, the great sons of our land were on there way to senegal to bring glory to our country when you opened up your belly and swallowed then.

    Oh Libreville, again we are on your soils for the same cause our heroes died for.

    Oh Libreville, were came again this time not to pick the remains of our great sons,but to pick the trophy back home.

    Oh Libreville , we shall rise like the smoke that rose higher above the waters of the atlantic ocean on that fateful day (27 april 1993)

  6. So emotional however God is on our side and for those travelling God’s travelly mercies seal all the planes with the blood of Jesus Christ and for our team glory and the cup is our portion amen

  7. Am so emotional right now it feels as if it were yesterday.Especially when the first flower was laid.To me this was of great importance MTSRIP

  8. #4, The men in the national team who perished 19 years ago were on national duty representing Zambia and therefore contrary to your expression I would say they didn;t die in vain.

  9. God open our team’s eyes so that they may see the correct lines even as we acknowledge God you are a loving God and you dont segregate this time is ours by faith we are praying and fasting for our team with plenty God’s favour

  10. Crying on a bus. This was a tragidy. God has a purpose 4 Zambia 2 reach there. Wether we win this cup or not, we hv achievd somethg great in this AFCON. Crying on a bus. This was a tragidy. God has a purpose 4 Zambia 2 reach there. Wether we win this cup or not, we hv achievd somethg great in this AFCON.
  11. Yes it’s emotional I have seen it on Aljazeera sport tv, go Zambia we are with you a win is the only good way to honour our Gabon victims.MTSRIP.

  12. Efford Chabala John Soko Whiteson Changwe Robert Watiyakeni Eston Mulenga (Yellowman) Derby Makinka Moses Chikwalakwala Wisdom Mumba Chansa (The Wiz) Kelvin “Malaza” Mutale Timothy Mwitwa Numba Mwila Richard Mwanza Samuel Chomba Moses Masuwa Kenan Simambe Godfrey Kangwa Winter Mumba Patrick “Bomber” Banda Godfrey “Ucar” Chitalu Alex Chola

    RIP

    Our thoughts are with you and your families. You will never be forgotten.

    In the shadow of tragedy walks great opportunity for those who dare to believe.

    Come Chipolopolo – Let’s stuff that bunch of overpaid mercenaries.

  13. Efford Chabala John Soko Whiteson Changwe Robert Watiyakeni Eston Mulenga (Yellowman) Derby Makinka Moses Chikwalakwala Wisdom Mumba Chansa (The Wiz) Kelvin “Malaza” Mutale Timothy Mwitwa Numba Mwila Richard Mwanza Samuel Chomba Moses Masuwa Kenan Simambe Godfrey Kangwa Winter Mumba Patrick “Bomber” Banda Godfrey “Ucar” Chitalu Alex Chola

    RIP

    Our thoughts are with you and your families. You will never be forgotten.

    In the shadow of tragedy walks great opportunity for those who dare to believe.

    Come Chipolopolo – Let’s stuff that bunch of overpaid ageing mercenaries.

  14. Really,those heroes were not honored in Gabon.I think no one traveled due to emotional of Zambians.Flowers were not led in the ocean by Zambians people.And today marks the day of players to honor their friends.It’s a miracle.

  15. I saw the Aljezera clip, how emotional! Though our ever loving Jehova Lord God Almighty will not take sidez az to who winz the AFCON 2012 come Sunday 12th February, I have a very strong pozitive feeling Zambia will carry the day. Sorry Drogba, the Tourez, Kalou, Gervhinio and all, am sure and do hope you will understand.

  16. I pray to the Lord in heaven to look with favor on us and our boys. “Horses are prepared for battle, but victory comes from the Lord” – Book of Proverbs. Therefore it all depends on God.

  17. Kalusha Bwalya is a legend,yes he has his weaknesses just like an mortal being but to be sincere and honestly so,he has inspired our nation in terms of football.Remember 1994 in that final in Tunis and how the great Kalu would blow his cheeks and round up those Ibos and Yorubas of Nigeria.To die is painful but to die the way our boys died is excruciating,that sea swallowed our heroes,the same sea washed them ashore.The grace of christ the child is ever merciful,in our hearts and through the comforting power of the holy spirit,we know that the souls of our heroes rest peacefully in God’s bossom of eternal love.

  18. This time we shall shade tears of joy from Gabon. The God we serve is so wonderful. Thank you Lord. Have a happy Sunday and safe celebrations mwe lupwa.

  19. indeed we lost our gallant brothers its a honor from God to give us this chance to reach there resting place.this Sunday with mercies from God our brothers shall be awarded with the unfinished job they left .-they will celebrate with us and we shall say its done.

  20. We haffi put everytin ina di lawd right hand ,fi only we cyaan be sure of security by di alla migthy.So my bredren we haffi worry abot nutten. Di souls of di dead dem, wah guh help dem boys to conquor dem foreighn stiete bwaay.GOOD LUCK DEM DON GORDON.

  21. # 11 i meant to say did not die in vain, if you read my whole sentence you can use common sense and see that there is an error. 

  22. Amazing stuff. God is Great. This is so….so solemn. Thank you lord for having made it possible for all Zambians to have been in the same generation with those that perished. That accident is not clear up to know. Memories are still fresh and it is still painful. The country is like in mourning as wounds openned. Lord heal our land and let your healing hand be upon all of us in Zambia and the Players in Gabon. In Jesus name. Amen.

  23. Very emotional stuff indeed, by God’s grace we have lived long enough to witness what will happen on Sunday. Many of our brothers and sisters have crossed on to be with the Lord since that tragedy but the Lord of mercy, peace and glory has granted that you and me can be witness to his wonderful might.

  24. Please can FAZ produce dvds of these heroes and raise money for the families & even FAZ it self.
    I will be the happiest to see or buy this dvd as a suivanior. FAZ would have done the greatest that they could have done to the fallen heroes.
    Thank you Zambia!

  25. So emotional, praise be to God, giver of life, God gives and God takes away.I thank u bros and sisters for emotional contribution s, one zambia, one nation, one pipo.

  26. God be with us Zambia. The Gabon disaster was bad. Only God knows what plans he has for us. The cup will come to Zambia no doubt. Viva Zambia. Go Zambia … Chipolopolo…iyee …..Chipolopolo. And Fellow Zambians lets control our celebrations and avoid misharps/ accidents. If you can watch at home and stay indoor, come sunday

  27. This may really be our year. The events of the last few months can attest to this. Renard left us but came back just in time to take us to Afcon2012. Kalu survived a soccer coup last year and today he was at the scene were he lost his colleagues. This is God’s way of doing things i guess. There is a time for sorrow (19 years ago) and for joy today. Good luck guys we are behind you.

  28. Governemnt shud consider an allocation of funds as well to the families of the deceased just the same way they will remunerate these boys for winning this 2012 afcon. It is clear we are playing with a helping hand from them otherwise we wud have not gone this far in this tornament. The ghana game is a very good example otherwise good luck boyz.

  29. “As the first flower was taken by a wave a thunder clap sounded overhead, and in the far horizon a ray of sunshine appeared in a break in the clouds”. THIS SPEAKS VOLUMES I DO NOT SEE THAT CUP GOING NOWHERE APART FROM COMING TO ZAMBIA. GO CHIPOLOPOLO GO.

  30. It is touching message. Boys dont disappoint the lost Zambian national team. You come along way and should succeed. Work as a team.

  31. If God is on our side , who can be against us? The lord will restore all that we lost in Gabon in 1993, a hundred fold in Jesus name. God is faithful no matter how long it has taken, it now has come to pass. In Jesus’ name Amen.

  32. Mourning can be endure for a night but joy comes in the morning just as we mourned in 1993 so as i see and have a feeling of joy in lifting the trophy on sunday. may their souls rest in peace.

    I urge all soccer funs to celebrate with caution!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. Emotional stuff…may the souls of the departed heroes rest in peace. And may the cup come home! Go chipolopolo go!!! Jehovah is on your side!

  34. Reading the article sure makes even a grown zambian man cry.. Twas a big blow but that was then. We r in the final and as long as the boys dont get too emotional n lose site of what they need to do, we have this in the bag. Yes winning it will b a fitting fairy tale ending but the Ivorians r out 2 try n mess that. Even with God on our side, we still need to go out there n do our share of work on the pitch. We need 2 end their unbeaten streak. Remember their wining will also b a fairy tale ending. We need 2 grab the Ivorian bull by the scruff of its neck in2 submission.. Bazedi napa Sunday bale wina iyee… Chipolopolo! Go Zed..

  35. Zambia Chipolopolo, like the mighty Phoenix you have risen from the ashes.

    God Bless Zambia, God Bless our national team on Sunday

  36. Quote from the article “A sign of how important this ceremony was to the 2012 squad was evidenced by the fact that not one player had the habitual set of headphones so beloved of football stars dangling around his ears, not one carried an ipod or iphone, each was simply intent on honouring the dead.” one player can be seen clearly with a set of bright red headsets around there neck. False journalism.

  37. Moving video. brings back sad memories and tears. May God be with families of the departed brothers who died in that fatal plane crash.

  38. We’ve lost presidents and a national soccer team,but one day our weeping shall turn in joy,happiness and laughter.

    God Bless Zambia!

  39. I thought Charles Musonda and Johnson Bwalys were also supposed to travel to that world cup qualifier. Why only mention Kalu? Let us not change history please napapata.

  40. I like the team captains position that we were destined to go and complete the mission that our brothers left for us 19 years ago.

    Come Sunday, winning the match will provide us closure and allow them to rest in peace. I think this closure is the higher priority and the win is just a means of achieving it.

  41. Very emotional moment for the nation, Zambians all over the world and mother Africa.The spirit of the Living God is upon our beloved nation. Tears cannot stop flowing but our loving God will turn them into JOY on SUNDAY. I hope a minute silence will be observed before the match. GOD BLESS ZAMBIA

  42. So touching indeed. It is so touching that even Mushota this time has gathered up his(her) silly minds. From these memories, you have gathered the courage and strength to carry on and do what these (fallen) men were just about to do before the tragedy happenned. Somebody commented ”This team is no much diferent from the one that perished”.Go Zambiaaaaaa!!!! You have already hunted the elephant. Now you need to bring him down- Use the one bullet wisely- like was the case with Ghana. Names aint nothing but an orderly conjunction of letters. Go Zambiaaaaaa!!!!

  43. This is a clear indication of how loving my people the Zambians are, we may have the differences but what units us is greater than what divides us. This was, is and will remain such a great gesture. Lets part our backs we have done it together, lets support who that are making it real especially our players in Gabon. God bless mother Zambia and all her people and their leaders.

  44. Emotional ah and its good to see zambian united.
    The cup is ours let us cerebrate responsibly. This time we should’ lose life when God fullfil our dreams.
    God bless you all

  45. THANK YOU LT, we know the lord is with us, we will WIN the game tonight. MAY THE LORD BE WITH OUR BOYS? OUR FALLEN HEROES MYSRIP. VIVA CHIPOLOPOLO LETS PLAY THE GAME FOR OUR HEROES & ZAMBIA

  46. Chipolopolo will only start performing if the families of Garbon air disaster victims are fully Compaseted because it seems the dead are only remembered when Chipolopolo needs guidance before crucial games , after winning we forget our fallen heroes/

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