A mate of mine is from Zambia. Well, we live opposite each other and teach at the same school in China. Have done for a few months now.
Anyway, he invited me over last week to share a meal with himself and his wife who is also from Lusaka. We shared some beer. Then it was time to eat Zambian food.
I forget the names but I ate some small dried fish and crispy cooked caterpillar. I also ate something that had the texture and taste of swede. But it was a lot more stodgy and filling. I enjoyed the experience.
After a few more beers we talked about football and the coming World Cup. Zambia are not taking part but I was intrigued about the colours of the Zambia football team?
‘What colour shirts do they play in?’
My host went into the bedroom and collected what was one of his most treasured possessions; a Zambian copper coloured national shirt.
What is the players’ name, I asked? The shirt was turned around – I looked intently -immediately, I saw a black 13 and above it a Zambian name: NUMBA.
How I laughed. Great evening, I thought.
Then Wezi told me a story that I ought to have known. The Zambian national football team were killed in an air crash in 1994. At the time they were probably the best African national team and favourites to qualify for the World Cup in America.
The shirt shown to me was a shirt of a player who had died on that fatal flight. His name: Numba Mwila.