By Penelope Paliani-Kamanga
Blantyre – Malawi has been thrown into deep mourning following the death of the former national team, Kaizer Chiefs defender and Be Forward technical director, Jack Africa Chamangwana.
Chamangwana (61), who died on Sunday and was laid to rest on Wednesday, passed away at Malawi’s main referral hospital after suffering from high blood pressure.
Speaking at the burial ceremony on behalf of President Peter Mutharika, Minister of Sports Francis Kasaila described Chamangwana as an absolute gentleman who fiercely served Malawi with passion and dedication.
Chamangwana’s best friend Young Chimodzi, who played together with him in the national team of the 70s, could not hold his tears, describing him as a man who loved football.
“I shall remember him as my teacher and my adviser,” he said.
Another soccer legend Kinna Phiri said the void Chamangwana has left cannot be easily filled. “We constantly backed up on information about soccer. He was my go-to person where we would share notes,” he said.
Kaizer Chiefs founder Kaizer Motaung sent a condolence message that was read to a mammoth crowd at Chamangwana’s memorial service at the Upper Stadium before mourners proceeded to Misesa Cemetery where his body was led to rest.
In the statement Motaung said that “I write to you with tears of sobbing after receiving devastating news of the passing of your beloved branch in the Chamangwana family tree. No words can describe how much saddened I am with the news of the passing of Jack ‘Black Stone’ Chamangwana.
“With this message, I wish to confirm my solidarity with the family in mourning the death of the one we called The Black Stone during his heydays.”
He said his was a life of football that epitomised success considering his achievements during his playing stint at Kaizer Chiefs from 1986 until 1988.
“I am glad that he returned to his native country to serve Malawian football as technical director for Malawian heavyweights Be Forward Wanderers,” said Motaung.
The Kaizer boss said: “I recalled vividly in March 2017 when we invited the late Jack to the Soweto Derby. I relived the glory days with him and enjoyed lunch together. Little did I know his visit was his goodbye. So sad. During his visit, he shared his knowledge of football and told me he watched every Kaizer Chiefs match on DStv. I’m glad to have shared in his life and times. What a great gentleman!“
Be Forward chief supporter Grace Chimanya said the gap Chamangwana has left was too wide. “He has died at a time Wanderers need such wisdom of Chamangwana; we mourn him. But since it’s God’s will what can we say? We can only ask God to cover our team in these trying times and grant us another wise person to lead us,” she said.
Chamangwana was Malawi’s second most capped player, having made 133 appearances from 1975 to 1985.
He was part of Malawi’s 1984 African Cup of Nations squad before retiring in 1985.
In 1986, ‘Africa’ Chamangwana left Malawi for South Africa where he joined Chiefs before coaching the club in 1988.
He also coached Malawi in 1998 before he was appointed as the technical director from 2009 to 2013. Between 2014 and 2015, the late Chamangwana served as Flames assistant coach under Young Chimodzi.