Dennis-Liwewe

The death of Dennis Liwewe brought tears to my face and to many Zambians across the globe. It resurrected the sad memories of the 1993 Gabon disaster. But it also forced me to ask, what will be my contribution to mother Zambia?
As a child, I remember sitting and listening to Dennis Liwewe’s radio commentary when Zambia or KK 11 (as we called our national soccer team), played Uganda in 1977. Poor people never had TVs in those days, and to be honest, I did not even know such a thing existed. Before the game, the music “teti tubwelela panuma baZambia” (we can’t retreat Zambia), was played over and over again. Then came the game and Uganda scored first. But Zambia went on to win the game 4-2 and qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations. Liwewe’s praise of mother Zambia and Godfrey Chitalu, who scored two goals, remained with me since.

I did not know much English then, but his golden voice and choice of words took me to the stadium—I watched the entire game simply by listening to him. “We are in deep trouble; they have scored; die a little for mother Zambia; it’s a goaaal, Zambia, Zambia, Zambia; 360 degrees,” were among the many phrases Liwewe employed. Years later, I watched soccer on TV, but I used the radio for commentary—all because of the cult of Dennis Liwewe, to which most of us are still guilty. He was not just the voice of Zambian football—he was the Zambian football I knew!

If you asked me whether I personally knew Dennis Liwewe then, my answer would have been a big yes! However, I met Mr. and Mrs. Liwewe in person in 2002, when they invited us to their home. It was then that I leaned his wife was Shona; and spoke to her in her native language. We talked about many things, but soccer dominated. He spoke about how he “counter-attacked” to win his wife on the Copperbelt. We talked about the Anglican Church, and he challenged us the young priests then to use every opportunity in life. Finally, we talked about politics. He passionately sided with President Chiluba, at the time when all his friends disowned him after President Mwanawasa lifted his immunity. “Whatever people say about President Chiluba,” he told us, “that man saved my life.” He said these words with great sincerity. By this time, it was almost 12am, and we had to leave. Since then, I met him at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, each time I preached there. He was a faithful Anglican with great humility and spirituality—the aspect most people did not even know.

Liwewe is gone, but his vision remains. We can honor him by living out his dreams for mother Zambia. He did not just follow the rules of soccer commentary; he set the new standard for it. He did not just tell us about players, but defined the game within the bigger national narrative of mother Zambia. He loved the game, but loved the mighty Zambia too! To him, soccer players represented the potential of Mother Zambia—the country with many tribes soaring toward one ultimate goal—to conquer all challenges of life.

We, Zambians must use this opportunity to reflect on the kind of Zambia we need. We know that Africa is poverty and poverty is Africa; Africa is corruption and corruption is Africa; Africa is lawlessness and lawlessness is Africa. But as we mourn this great man, let us pledge to play our role. Each one of us must help write our national script. We must be “ready to conquer” poverty and injustice in this great nation; and like the noble eagle, we must help the nation soar to the brighter future.

Even after failing—as we have done over and over again—like Liwewe, we must believe that mighty Zambia will soar to new heights—where poverty will be no more. We may belong to various tribes and political parties, but as president Chiluba said at the graves of fallen soccer stars in 1993, we “must not bury the hopes and aspirations of the heroes now departed.”

Tribalism, political violence, human rights abuses, insults and lack of rule of law, though part of the African socio-political narrative can be conquered by our great aspirations and dreams for a better Zambia—the mighty Zambia. We must all learn to die a little for mother Zambia; it is our nation, our only beloved mother Zambia.

Farewell Dennis Liwewe—we will surely remember you as the greatest “man who used every opportunity God gave to him.” Go tell them—tell Simon Kapwepwe, Harry Nkumbula, Anderson Mazoka, Godfrey Chitalu, Efford Chabala, Bishop Mutale, Betty Kaunda, Chiluba, and Mwanawasa among many others—go tell them that we will never bury their dreams, for “mother Zambia never surrenders.” May your soul rest in peace and rise in glory!

By Rev. Canon Dr. Kapya John Kaoma

Loading...

23 COMMENTS

  1. No need for such stories, how about memoirs or perhaps a life history of him.

    These stories reflect the writer muscling themselves in our faces at the expense of a great man who has died.

    Completely ludicrous, however RIP Mr Liwewe.

    Thanks

    0

    0
    • Mushota is right its like everyone wants to come out as a close follower of liwewe,just give us a life history and why Kamuzu banned him from travelling back to his Homeland MALAWI.

      0

      0
    • It is time Zambians changed part of the way we mourn.
      1. Ifya kuchesha pa nganda yachililo fyabutu tu. We should stop it. Yes visit the funeral house but there is no need to sleep there and just increase the food expenditure.
      2. Mouners must go for funeral church service. There is no need though for bus loads , trucks and so many to the cemetry. Let just a fewto go and do the burial ceremony.

      0

      0
    • @Chief Mourner; ukuchesha was introduced in ancient days when electricity hadn’t arrived and we lived side by side with beasts. It was meant to provide 24 hour ‘comfort’ to the deceased’s relatives because being alone in the dark in such grieving circumstances was terrifying. Nowadays this ‘protection’ is not needed. So I agree with you some of the customs we have should evolve with time.

      0

      0
  2. Mushota, dude (because I know you are a man), get a life. How can you be the first to comment every time? Make yourself productive. Start gardening or start selling talk time at the traffic lights

    0

    0
  3. @Chief mouner you are very right. I do not understand why we have hundreds of people and the graveyards everyday. Its a waste of resources- fuel and productivity down time.
    I will rather people attend church service and allow relatives to do the burial rituals. There is no need for thousands at the grave yard. Kwati ni ku rally yaba UPND.

    0

    0
    • In short we should abandoned our culture and mourn like the western world right. Ka inferiority complex will never end pa zed awe! You can swing it all you want, it’s clear that you are one of those f00ls that dump their tradition for white mans tradition thinking you are modern. Learn from the Arabs they stay true to who they are and that’s why they have respect in the world unlike you.

      0

      0
  4. The laudatio from the Rev is welcome. There’s indeed a lot we can learn a from the passion that Dennis showed for Zambia’s achievement’s in sports. He did his part. It is up to us to carry on raising the flag high.

    0

    0
  5. Well said by @Chief Mourner.
    Ne fya kubika ama flowers must be stopped. It has no meaning . Immdiately people leave the site , the flowers are stonen and sold to the new arrivals at the grave yaerd.

    0

    0
    • @Florist: Ifyakubika amaflowers is a completely foreign culture we have copied. The only reason we have copied it is to look “civilised” because all white people do it. So all of us aspiring to be called civilised have decided to also do it. It has no meaning in African culture.

      0

      0
  6. I have also been wondering why so many people go to the grave yards for the burial rituals. There is really no need. Any one can attend church service but surely thousands at the cemetery does not make sense. Most of the people do not even follow what is going on.

    0

    0
  7. We should honour this great giant by naming a stand at heroes stadium after him. And maybe the access road to the stadium should also be called “Denis liwewe” way. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

    0

    0
  8. Yaba..Chief mourner na dead man, kwena bauzenikoni bantu ba chonjo. Don’t forget Ba mene baembekeza kudya Sima pamalilo more especially those in shunt compounds. They behave as if they havent been eating from there homes. Please stop it.

    0

    0
  9. We all know Deniss was a serial womaniser who terrorised ZCCM and ZNBC girls including Maureen Nkandu.
    I agree with Mushota that life history tells more about a person than emotional remembrances.

    0

    0
  10. ooh to sad my his soul rest in peace,imagin jst learnt of this unfortunate thing this evening.
    @bankupi..you must be ashemed of the rubbish you post about the dead,we all will die and when that happens your following will want to focus on your positives as we all aspire to impress.
    The script is well written until the last part when he misleads himself by sending liwewe to speak to kapwepwe and group,especially its coming from a man of God iss unfortunate he wants to mislead the blind publis over life after death.

    0

    0

Comments are closed.