It was on June 17 that the former President of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, passed away at the age of 97 and it evoked some emotions of years gone by and just how passionate this political giant was about sport, and football in particular.
It is well-documented that Kaunda would host the Zambia national football team at the State House after doing well and he would personally serve each individual member of the team as his gesture of the pride the team would have brought to the country.
And it took legendary radio commentator Dennis Liwewe to give the national team the moniker KK11. So passionate was KK that he often had his cabinet play football matches as curtain raisers to major national football games and in some instances would even instruct that fans be allowed into the stadium for free.
In George Weah, Liberia has a President who knows which side bread must be buttered. He is the first African former professional footballer to become head of state in 2018 and in 1995 reigned as World, Africa and European Footballer of the Year. He knows the power of sport and the impact it has in changing the lives of people especially the downtrodden.
In Zimbabwe, former President Canaan Banana was an avid football lover and even had the referees’ badges to show for it and would often officiate junior football matches.
Robert Mugabe, an avid fan of Chelsea and Barcelona, was not good at football as a youngster but did well in tennis and was a big enthusiast of cricket which he said civilises people and creates good gentlemen. He was the patron of the Zimbabwe Cricket Association and his official residence was next to the Harare Sports Club
Not much is known about South Africa’s former Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma but the late Nelson Mandela was a keen pugilist but did not quite excel in it as he did with politics. Incumbent, Cyril Ramaphosa, an Ankole cattle breeder, used to sing and dance while at Mphaphuli High School in Sibasa.Sometimes it takes a leader who has passion for sport to create a fervent and winning nation and as one African proverb goes – without a leader, black ants are confused. – Polokwane Review