I was absolutely convinced that Zambia would win this year’s Cup of African Nations football competition. I didn’t deduce this from an analysis of Zambia’s playing strategy or prowess I merely read everything there was to read, and and came to my own conclusion, as clearly as daylight.
You see, when they beat Ghana, I said to myself, “Ei, Lusaka is going to put on a show tonight”
I’ve been there, and I know what they can be up to. But I didn’t just rely on my own knowledge of the city and its addiction to certain types of human behaviour. I checked up.
And up on my screen popped a news report that a tour of ‘nightclubs’, such as Kanyama’s Kanchembele and Chine Chikayeba, had revealed that long queues of men had been “waiting to have sex with a limited number of prostitutes.”
Apparently, word had gone round that in celebration of the victory against Ghana, some of the hookers were making their services available free of charge, or at a reduced fee.
“A single prostitute served nearly 11 men and there were more than 200 men wanting to celebrate Zambia’s first qualification to the Africa Cup final since 1994, in style,” one report said.
“The situation was the same at John Laing’s Corogo night Club that is situated just opposite John Laing Basic School. However, at Corogo, a man in his mid-twenties was beaten up after he took [too] long to attain orgasm when his turn to have sex with the prostitute came. ‘Yes, we beat him up because he took too long…. We were too many of us on line and the guy kept on wasting time on top of the prostitute,’ said an eyewitness, identified only as James.”
Another problem was that “in Chawama, as well as Kalingalinga, only a handful of prostitutes were made to serve tens of Chipolopolo fans”, the reporter claimed. Were the madams restricting the ‘free service’ in order not to go bankrupt? None of them was available for comment.
When I read these reports, I said to myself that if this was the situation when only a semi-final match had been won, then “Ebaafee gbeyei” [it will be as ‘frightful’ a sight as fire itself ] if and when Zambia won the actual cup itself.
I also surmised that if the Zambian football authorities knew any human psychology at all, they would communicate a certain message to the players, which would win the cup for Zambia ‘by act, not of God, but of woman”
.Indeed, I had not under-estimated the Zambian football authorities. They did know a thing or two about human psychology. For among the VIPs they took to watch the match and act as cheer-leaders was 88-year-old Dr Kenneth Kaunda, the leader who won independence for the country in 1964 and whose name features in almost every history examination in Zambia. These days, he goes everywhere with a walking stick. But he didn’t mind showing up at Libreville.
Now, there are two things about “KK” that will never be diminished. And both are particularly potent as psychological weapons that can be deployed to inspire a football team any day.
First of all, he is in very good voice. He attended missionary schools (like most of us) and so can sing emotionally-laden songs — in a very good baritone — at the drop of a hat. He became leader of the United National Independence Party (UNIP) of the then Northern Rhodesia, partly because he could animate dull party meetings with a catchy song, during Zambia’s liberation struggle.
Secondly, Kaunda can weep very easily. In earlier years, he used to carry a white handkerchief around to wipe away the tears, which flowed profusely whenever he talked publicly about the wickedness of the racist, Ian Smith, and his accomplices in the apartheid regime of South Africa. His regular addresses to the United Nations General Assembly, during which he used his white handkerchief quite a lot, were a familiar sight in the late 1960s and the 1970s.
There is, of course, a lot about Zambian football that can make even a crocodile weep buckets of tears, let alone KK. You see, in 1993, Zambia was taking part in the African Nations Cup competition when a plane carrying its players crashed at Libreville, Gabon — the same place where the final against the Ivory Coast was due to take place. Almost the entire national team was killed. Only one member of the team, Kalusha Bwalya, was spared, and that was only because he travelled separately and not with the team. Kalusha is now president of the Zambian Football Association.
Give anyone with any imagination such a scenario, and he can wreak lethal havoc with it in the area of “psy-ops”(psychological operations.) But to give Kaunda such a story was to ensure that the mere recollection of it would make him weep barrels of valid tears. And then, just add to the mixture, the fact that Zambia’s first national team — “KK Eleven” —was named after him! Which Zambian player, watching the tears of the man they have all grown up to regard as a legendary super-hero read about in books, would fail to become an instant MaraPele on the playing field, under his inspiration?
The Zambians are a canny lot, I tell you. Do you know what they did? On the day before the final took place, the entire Zambian contingent went to the beach near Libreville, to pay their respects at the spot closest to where the plane crashed and decimated the 1993 national team. They threw flowers in the water, in remembrance of their heroic footballers who had perished on national duty.
Even merely seeing it on TV, was a most moving scene. To the players whose feet touched the wet sands, watching the waves eddying around the flowers, the movement of the water and the sand must obviously have brought thoughts of the transition of man from body into soul. Such thoughts were enough to make any man wish to slay an elephant with his bare hands, unless he was made of stone.
But then, to cap it all, a hushed rumour circulated amongst the players. Only a few claimed to have heard it, but it nevertheless spread like wild fire.
What was it? Zambian intelligence officials had secretly cabled the team officials that they had gathered from “Radio Trottoir” [street talk] that all the prostitutes in Lusaka had promised to make their services entirely free to Zambian men who turned up at brothels that Sunday, if the Zambian players won the cup! This had caused a great stir amongst certain categories of Zambian men, and intelligence sources had picked up further “chatter” to the effect that if the team did not bring the cup to Lusaka, testosterone-crazy men would march to meet the players at Lusaka airport, and string them up on the lamp-posts at the airport perimeter
“Some of the men, especially those who have a high sexual drive but no money, have been hanging around the airport already,” the players were informed in hushed tones. “They will go back to Ludsaka to claim their prize if we win. But if don’t, they will be on hand to greet us…. And they will be reinforced by new mobs of other ‘chewers-on’, some of whom will be leaving Lusaka in groups, carrying ropes with nooses tied on them, ready to do their work.”
Now, it is bad enough to be threatened with a lynching by ordinary men. But when it isn’t ordinary men but men who have not had sex for for donkeys’ years (not by choice but because of a lack of spondulix) and who had been fantasising a lot about what they would do on next laying hands on female flesh, then things can look desperate.
The Zambian intelligence agency, the players were updated, had sent another message to the team in Libreville, as the match was in progress: “When Didier Drogba missed the penalty [during the first part of the match, before the eventual penalty shoot-out proper] some hookers in Lusaka took off their tops and yelled, “Didier Drogba is dead!”
That was all that was necessary. It showed that the rumours linking sex with the match could be taken as confirmed. Because such an interest in a football match among hookers is unusual. And if hookers were so interested, what about their would-be [free-booting] clients? One of the Zambian players was a soldier, and he would have taught the others that in elementary military intelligence lessons, they are taught that “when situations are tense, the presence of the unusual and the absence of the normal are signs of trouble toi come!”
Well, the Zambian players knew their own people very well. And they didn’t want to take any chances. If Didier Drogba, one of the most famous players in Africa, was being verbally crucified in the brothels of Lusaka, then even King Kong would find it difficult to survive in the city if popular anger was aroused against him.
I invite you to picture the scene in Lusaka’s Red Light districts as the game entered extra-time, followed by a penalty shootout.
Many sex-hungry men have already taken their places in the long queues.
An Ivorian player takes the first penalty. He scores. Everybody goes deadly quiet.
But the Zambians successfully reply. Wild cheers.
And so it goes on.
It is now five goals each. And then an Ivorian misses the next shot. A yell goes up.
But then, a Zambbian also misses. “Ohhhhhhhhh! “At least 10 million throats how in pain.
Next,everyone becomes tense again.
We are in “sudden death” territory.
And the Ivorian misses!
And — then, Zambia scores!
If I were to reproduce the sound that emanated across Lusaka, reverberated through the Copperbelt, crossed Lake Malawi, then created ripples in River Zambezi that flowed all the way to Harare and Soweto, we would be here till next year.
There is, I believe, a naughty Royal Air Force song whose partially cleaned-up version goes like this:
“There was um-um in the haystacks!”
“Um-um in the haystacks!”
“You couldn’t hear the ack-acks
For the swishing off the cocks….”
That’s how a tale dangled in Zambia on Sunday, 12/2/12. Ha — doesn’t that date look strangely palindromic? Ask any Zambian, and he’d tell you that their victory was written in the stars. When people experience ecstasy, they will believe anything. How much more a double ecstasy?