By Irvine Ilukui Mbanga
The one thing that has become synonymous with Zambians in recent years is hate for their own who excel, pulling down those who become successful and easily delighting in the downfall of those that once excelled. Just incase people don’t understand what am saying here are two examples.
I remember the excitement we all had when he scored 35 goals in a season at Kaizer Chiefs and was bought by Portsmouth but lacked game time, moved to Maritimo then Bursapor in Turkey, and then we changed and started laughing at this loyal son of the country who was banging goals for us.
We forgot everything he did for us concentrating only on the negatives; his weight gain and clubless status at the time. To all our shame he found a club, regained form and was back to scoring goals and has earned millions since then.
The same kind of attitude shown to Collins Mbesuma is what we have shown to Janny Sikazwe. When his refereeing career was taking off and he was handling the most complex matches and we were all happy with him, then came the Club World Cup final where we all sang praises for him asking the state to honor him, then the Afcon Final and the CAF Super Cup, then his honors by the government and promotion to the Headquarters, also an interim job at Football House then the hate started.
Every small mistake he made on the pitch was blown out of proportion being constantly accused of applying his own rules in the game with Nkana fans taking the lead. To the delight of many Janny was suspended on corruption or match fixing suspicions, but was cleared quickly and thrown back to handle complex matches like before.
Not ashamed of our hate for him and we complained about his handling of the Senegal vs Algeria match in which he didn’t give a penalty after Sadio Mane went down in the box and called for his head, to our shame again CAF saw it fit to give him another tricky fixture involving Mali and Ivory Coast yesterday which he handled so well. Guess we have to wait for another mistake from him to try pull him down, so sad.
My question is why do we delight in the failure of our own instead of making them icons and standard bearers so others can emulate them, why do only support our own in small feats and once they make it big it becomes an issue?
When our players play well, we find fault in their English, when they fail trials we accuse them of not being good enough and using black magic back home, when they make it we talk about their low education levels, when they are educated we focus on their looks. We seem to find fault with every successful countryman and it has to stop.
Till we learn to celebrate our own, we will remain unknown as a country internationally. It took one South AfrIcan Nelson Mandela, One Zimbabwean Oliver Mtukudzi, one Congolese Franco, one Ivorian Didier Drogba, one Liberian George Weah, one Cameroonian Roger Miler, one Ethiopian Gabrailsalaise, one Kenyan Lupita Nyongo to put their countries on the world map, we have had that chance too with our icons but have chosen to disparage them and we remain unknown.
Let us change our attitude, it stinks. Let us learn to praise those who do well and give our country a good image: politicians, sportsmen, musicians, journalists, pastors or whatever they may be.