Sculpture of a footballer, in a maize field in Zambia

Take the Great North Road from Lusaka and as you approach Ten Miles you’ll find this sculpture in a maize field. Zambians love their maize and their football. Nshima, made from maize flour, is the staple food in Zambia – and football is the national game here.

The Zambian national team are nicknamed the Chipolopolo – the Copper Bullets. It’s worth telling the story of their tragic accident and their greatest triumph nearly twenty years later. In 1993, on their way to a World Cup qualifier, the team’s plane crashed into the sea near Libreville in Gabon, killing everyone on board. 30 people died, including 18 players.

By coincidence, Gabon hosted the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012. Once again the Zambian squad flew to Libreville, arriving safely this time. And against all expectations they reached the final, in which they played a strong Ivory Coast team. Zambia won on penalties after extra time.

The cup final was played just a few hundred metres from the scene of the crash. I wish I could tell you that the sculpture near Ten Miles was made to celebrate the renaissance of the Chipolopolo, but I’d be lying. Apparently the maize field belongs to a sports promoter and the sculpture’s there to advertise his business.

 

Written by Richard Alton

Freelance photographer and writer, based in the UK and Zambia

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Is that player Tambuli (Tambuli & Sitali) or Kalusha ? Its a great status deserves to be at Heroes Stadium get, not in maize field.

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    • What an interesting story fresh and away from depressing bad governance of our country by Crazy PF leaders. The owner of that Maize field deserves a thumbs up. Very patriotic and Truly Zambian.

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  2. Chipolopolo simply means bullet not copper bullet. Get your fact right before you mislead people with your watered article! The sculpture is beautiful though.

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    • @Nubia fantastic point, it annoys me too.
      Chibemba na mano ya chiko.
      Bullet means Ulupolopolo, plural is impolopolo.
      Chipolopolo is master achiever; like a villager who impregnate any woman at any age. Chipolopolo is a soft tree used for male enhancement, also used to feed goats and bulls for reproduction.
      Chipolopolo became simply a praise, like muli baimwe imwe Ba Nostra! Muli chipolopolo (master tree).

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    • Just like there are different types of bullets ie 38, 45 and so on, this bullet /chipolopolo is copper bullet. Get a life.

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  3. Chipolopolo is not a bullet! Its a shot, powerful shot. A bullet is mpolopolo, Nubian. Manje this article is talking to who?

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    • @One Zambian
      Mpolopolo is a small bullet fired from a Pistol or handgun. Chipolopolo is a big bazooka fired from a mounted gun

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    • Be careful, Bemba like all African languages, is sophisticated. Mpolopolo or more correctly Impolopolo is the generic plural of Ichipolopolo or akapolopolo. Ichipolopolo is a big bullet. Akapolopolo is a small bullet

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  4. I know this sculpture and it shows how someone loves Zambian football,this is what I call passion for the game

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  5. Coining terms, right? Mpolopolo=Bullet, Chimpolopolo=Big Bullet, Chipolopolo=Big bazooka fired from a mounted gun????. I will give you a benefit of a doubt Mr Lombe. May from a certain language. May be!

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  6. I don’t quite believe there’s anything like akapolopolo or small bullet. Bemba and African culture could not allow that for objects, animate or inanimate that could kill

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    • Its grammar. Grammatical structure will take into account speculatives. So even if you’ve never heard of a term its possibility can still be explained

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  7. It’s all semantics , Ichipolopolo , impolopolo akapolopolo all mean 1 thing , a bullet.

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