Monday, February 13, 2012

Football (written in the) Stars





The crackly excited radio is on behind the lodge kitchen, in the laundry. Its raining outside and all woodsmokey inside. I think its still the days when we use coal irons to iron the guests' clothes. The chefs and waiters pop in and out when they can, between serving courses to the punters. Everyone else is huddled around the radio listening to the world cup qualifiers. I forget what game it was but Zambia is doing really really well. Kevin Mutale has recently scored a hat trick against Mauritius and we're on top form. We're tipped to qualify for the football World Cup for the first time in history. It's 1993. I'm not usually into football, but when Zambia are playing (and doing well!) my heart soars up into the sky attached to helium balloons. A few months previously there was a Zambian Airforce plane shuttling relief maize up to Luawata, where my uncle works. I go out to the scraggly old dirt airstrip in the park and watch the crew load up sacks and sacks of maize. They ask if I want to go with them on their plane, on a day trip to Mpika but I worry that my parents will be worried about me, taking off without telling them, so I decline. They're happy burly men, full of laughter. Its this plane, with this crew, that the Zambian football team are on, flying from Gabon to Senegal in April 1993 when it crashes into the sea, killing all 30 people on board. The rising stars, all gone. And so Zambia's Africa Cup of Nations victory last night in Liberville - the first time a Zambian team had been back to Gabon since the team perished there 19 years before. They played Ivory Coast against the likes of Didier Drogba. The underdogs we were, but it was written in the stars.   It's awesome I tell you, just awesome!

11 comments:

tam said...

Its so flippen cool. Wish I was celebrating with Mosi. The first thing I thought this morning was how happy Musa would have been and I am just perpetually tearful.

Nicola said...

Awesome! Just so damn awesome!

Mud said...

How wonderful. I'd forgotten about that accident - but how fantastic that the strs have come right.
xx

Miranda said...

Tam - I know, also been thinking of Musa and how I wish I could call him up to celebrate.

Nicola - ain't it just!

Mud - I know, so fab. I believe the president offered free transport for anyone wanting to go to the airport to welcome the team back!

Angela said...

Yay, they even won and dedicated their victory to the late team - sometimes there ARE happy endings. I am sure Musa KNOWS and celebrates, too.

Shiny said...

Oh. Wow. Just wow xxx

JoeinVegas said...

And they won!! yea!!

Val said...

fantastic - well done team Zambia! yes i am sure Musa knows and you can celebrate with him x

Val said...

we need some new baby pics - please? xx

Daddy Confidential said...

This is the sweetest account I've ever read by a fair-weather fan. Strange too because I tripped across this after you linked to my "Due Dads" post (for which I thank you). There's sort of a double coincidence here.

She hates for me to talk about it, but when my wife was 16 she was booked on flight 800 from JFK to Paris. She was supposed to go with her best friend and that girl's family. But the day before the trip my wife's high school boyfriend dumped her. She was so distraught that she decided not to go to Paris. Of course the plane exploded shortly after takeoff.

So you both share an eerie brush with tragedy and horror. Odd that our blogs connected at this moment and in this way.

On a happier note, congratulations on your baby. And thanks for the great local sports coverage.

Miranda said...

Geli - I'm sure he does x

Joinvegas - yay yay yay!

Val - yes I hope so. And more pics soon!

DC - Wow, that is a hairy story. Isn't life strange?! Thanks for the congrats. Love your blog!