Mike Kumanga’s turn



Now, in those days, between 1994 and 1997, Mike Kumanga— yes, I am talking of the former Malawi senior national football team player— was like any other young man at Salima Malawi Distance of Education Centre (DEC): forward-looking, lively and outright honest.

In those days, Kumanga was a bouncing young man—well built, of course, so that bullies at Salima DEC could not mess around with him.


And, even in those early days, it was clear that Kumanga was a footballer of sorts, for, whenever a chance availed itself and Kumanga had to show that, soccer-wise, he was made of sterner stuff, he could score four or five goals in one game at Salima Community Centre Ground.

Sometimes, as it used to happen then, Salima DEC could host Parachute Battalion— that Malawi Defence Force side from Salima.

Now, playing against Parachute Battalion was no simple thing. Those soldiers were ruthless, both on and off the pitch, and that started when Salima Boys Secondary School (Sabo) was occupying the space Salima DEC came to fill.


In those days— the days of Sabo— Parachute Battalion used to have good sides, soccer-wise, but even their best sides used to be walloped by Sabo. Even Chipoka Secondary School and Nkhotakota Secondary School could not stand the mighty Sabo.

One day, when Nkhotakota Secondary School were beaten clean by Sabo, Sabo supporters burst into song:


Iwe Sabo/


Iwe Sabo/

Wampweteka mzako Nkhotakota x20

Those were the days when Sabo had the likes of Pearson, Monason, Khwalakhwala and a goalkeeper from Khombedza in Salima whose name was simply Danger!

And Danger was a goalkeeper of sorts. Many a time, Parachute Battalion strikers could not score from four metres. One day, when Sabo played Parachute Battalion, Danger saved, with his chest, a thunderbolt taken three metres from goal, giving the ball back to the Parachute Battalion striker who produced another thunderbolt that was, again, saved by Danger— using his chest—before giving the ball back to the striker with the same chest.

In which case, the striker, being angry, produced yet another thunderbolt— only for Danger to, again, save it with his chest before giving the ball back to the Parachute Battalion striker.

Guess what the striker did! He did not shoot the ball. Instead, he went for Danger, giving him a scissors kick in the mouth.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! How foolish! Why not shoot the ball into the net! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Some strikers think like chickens!

Well, the striker did not get away with it, for, before long, Salima DEC students invaded the pitch, went for the striker. All hell broke loose and students descended on soldiers and soldiers descended on students.

But this is not the issue today. We are talking of Kumanga, who used to score from the centre circle at Salima DEC, after Sabo relocated to Kaphatenga and changed its name to, simply, Salima Secondary School, where the Kasalikas, the Mtilatilas, among others, made their name.

Now, Kumanga used to our come home, at Takomana, to chat with my cousin Nisphore. They were classmates.

He could sit outside the house, looking in the direction of Pillar of Fire Church, and talk about soccer. I could come in and join their talk. But Kumanga was friends with my cousin, and my brother Madalitso— not necessarily me. I was the ‘intruder’.

Anyway, Kumanga said, then, that he wanted to play for the Malawi national football team. I do not know where he got the courage.

But, then, he went on to play for the national team and then to coach military sides and then to live his dream.

In a world where not many people realise their dreams, is that not a relief? Surely, Kumanga is living his dream. He is a man relieved of childhood dreams and he can only be happy.

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