At his best, Fischer Kondowe was a machine on the pitch. Which, of course, gave me— a mere spectator– the impression that Fischer, who once was my township-mate in Chilobwe, was beyond human emotions which some of us, being feeble, are susceptible to.
Now, those were the days when we, supporters of clubs – my weakness is always the blue and white colour of town, even when the blue and white colours remain only in the heart, ostensibly because some officials, in their wisdom, have decided to sell the team’s soul, namely traditional colours—used to follow our favourite players to wherever the team and the Malawi national football team were training. I fell for the blue and white side of town when, as resident of House Number 11 in Chitawira then, used to take pity on the team every time my friends— I think Sipitala Chiphiko was one of them, and someone we simply used to call Chokani, who used to stay close to Malamulo Primary, among others— could sing:
Maite [for Mighty] wadazi! [Wanderers].
Naturally, I side with the victim, which means I was always going to fall for the so-called wadazi side.
But this is such a long time ago, I think and I diverted.
Those were the days when BB used to train at Kamba, BAT Ground, or wherever— as the case could be—while Manoma used to train at Money Men, BAT, Country Club Limbe or wherever — as the case could be. Wherever, we, in the innocence of youth, could follow the teams. Which, of course, extended to the national football team. I mean the senior one.
And the fans could pick on each other while watching the national team at Kamuzu Stadium—in those good, old days—or wherever it could train in Blantyre. Those were the days when the national team could train anywhere other than my neighbourhood, Chiwembe, where we have the famous Mpira House of the Football Association of Malawi (Fam).
Of course, some people accuse me of staying in Rural Chiwembe while others tell me in the face that I stay in Mmadi Village, and that a village is different from a township. Whatever! I am more than happy that I live in an area where, less than a kilometre from the rented house I call my own, albeit temporarily, is the famous artificial turf. I am talking of Fam’s headquarters.
But, in those days, there was no artificial turf in Chiwembe. Which means the national football team could train anywhere other than Chiwembe. In fact, Mpira House was not even there, where it stands. So much about this. Let me delve straight into the business of the day.
It so happened that the senior national football team was in camp and that, as per requirement, the players were supposed to train at the Kamuzu Stadium. There were several players— in case you are lost, I am talking of the year 2006— who were called into camp— Fischer inclusive.
We sat in the VIP stands. The only time we, commoners of those days, could sit in the VIP stands without paying anything. It was training sessions, after all, and the facility was accessible to anyone who cared to go to the stadium to watch national team players strut their stuff.
And it so happened that, on that particular day, the stands were filled with supporters of rival teams. I am talking of BB and Manoma. That time, the term Nyerere was not yet coined. That term, for those who do not know, arose out of a song one great Nomads fan, simply known as Famous, coined. It went, and goes [for they still wallow in it; those diehard fans:
Kuli nyerere ye-ye-ye-ye/
Kuli nyerere ye-ye-ye-ye/
Kuli nyerere ku Manoma/
Kuli nyerere ku Manoma/
Bernard [Kalirani] konko!/
Kuli nyerere ku Manoma…/
Over time, Nomads supporters started simply to identify themselves as nyerere. Their focus is not the tiny size of the nyerere but the strength that nyerere [ants] gain in unity. Surely, if all the ants in the world were to unite, they would easily move Soche Hill to wherever they want.
Now, this particular day at the stadium, Nomads and Bullets fans started picking on players from rival camps. In the course of such interaction, one, clearly, Nomad fan shouted at Fischer, who was on the pitch . The supporter, who sat close to me, said: Iwe ukutani mu camp? Dzipita kwanu! Timu ya dziko iyi, yoyenera Manoma!” [You – pointing a finger at Fischer– go back home. This team is a national side, a side befitting Nomads players, who are made of sterner stuff]”.
At which point, Fischer looked in our direction. I am sure he singled me— who had nothing to do with this in this case— out.
When the training was over, and as the players were boarding a Fam-hired coaster, Fischer saw me in the crowd— after watching the training session, people were always there to see the players board the coaster or bus or whatever they turned to as a means of transport— approached me and told me in the face: “Umati chiyani kodi iwe? Unamenyako mpira iwe? [What were you saying? Have you ever played football?]”.
I told him it was not me but someone else who had shouted at Fischer while he was on the picth, but Fischer kept on chiding me, telling me that “what you said is bad”, and that such sentiments could discourage players.
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