By Laura Miti
I think of Kalusha Bwalya has one of Zambia’s greatest heroes and hero is not a word you will hear out of my mouth about an individual too often.
I just find I hold an undiminishing debt of gratitude to him for being there for Zambia and leading from the front at this nation’s darkest, most painful moment. I will never forget that TV news clip when Charles Musonda said to a journalist it was over for Zambian soccer. Kalusha broke in and indignantly said something to the effect of “No way, it is not over. We will rise from this.” In the days and months after we buried our team, Kalusha became for me the one light in a dark confusing place. I have no idea how he did not collapse under the weight of all our hopes. He not only did not falter, he delivered on the promise made in that TV clip.
So yes, I would name a stadium after Kalusha and I hope one day we do. And no I am not blind to his failings.
The reason I write this though is not to mourn Kalusha’s FAZ presidency loss to Andrew Kamanga in the small hours of Sunday. It is rather to say in the loss of someone in whose corner I generally am, I find myself celebrating one of the strengths of this nation – the extent to which we have embraced and taken as ours the power of the vote.
Andrew has fought long and hard to dethrone Kalu. Sometimes the playing field was not at all level with Kalusha having the support of CAF and FIFA royalty. In the end, the tide turned as it always does and Andrew campaigned hard enough to convince delegates that he would be better for Zambian soccer than a national legend.
That we can replace leaders from sport to politics, defeating the inordinate advantage of incumbency is something I am proud of and it is that which makes what happened at Moba significant in the larger picture of national life. Nobody gets to enter or stay in office unless the electorate concerned with that office say so. So we see the end of an era in our soccer maybe. But heck, Kalusha is carved into our history, and into many hearts in gold (copper?) All the best Andrew. Like our politics, our soccer is a crazy place. We can only hope this long, long fight to get the FAZ presidency translates into better times for the fan.