Hakainde Hichilema’s Tribute to Dennis Liwewe

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Colleagues, country men and country women, the country faces yet another dark day on the passing of our venerated veteran soccer commentator Dennis Liwewe. On behalf of the UPND and my own and my family’s behalf, we wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to Mrs Liwewe and the entire Liwewe family, and the people of Zambia in the face of this tragedy.

In his own words, Liwewe would say, he eats football, drinks football and sleeps football. And true to these words, Liwewe was an embodiment of football, he was an encyclopedia of not only Zambian soccer but soccer in general but his passionate lay with Zambian soccer. It would be a lie to not acknowledge that, in the 70’s up to the late 90’s, a football match was incomplete without the voice of Liwewe. His descriptions were so captivating that you would literally be seeing the match even if it was on radio. Some of us would be ‘watching’ the match while tuned in to radio, that was Liwewe’s influence.

How do I remember Liwewe? Personally I came into contact with the man like every football fan, through his radio commentaries and meeting him in person later in my life was fulfilling. As young men, we would crowd around one of those supersonic two band radio sets. His voice would reverberate through the speaker and in shortwave his voice would go up and down as the waves permitted. Two things stand out for me. One; the day we lost our entire national team in Gabon, we could not have chosen a better man to give a fitting tribute to the departed gallant men of this country. I could safely say, Dennis was the reason a decision was made by FAZ to proceed with the rest of the matches which saw Zambia as runners up at the Afcon 94. Secondly; later in the year, Liwewe led a legion of soccer fans to protest against the handling of a world cup qualifier that was refereed by one Jean Claude Diramba in Morocco. That match effectively closed the door to USA’94 after losing to Morocco in suspicious circumstances in Rabat. That was his passion for Zambian soccer. When everyone was down, Liwewe would recount how football was 90 minutes and that things could happen in very few seconds in football. When you were a guest in a foreign country two names would always come up, KK and Liwewe. That is the legacy Liwewe leaves behind.

To us countrymen and countrywomen, let us honour Liwewe in a manner fitting a soccer legend, because that is what he was. We are known to be united around football because of Liwewe’s efforts. Let us do so as we mourn this great soccer icon and give him a fitting send off.

To his family, I know that some family members are involved in football already. I would like to urge them to continue carrying the legacy of their father. That is the only way to ensure that his name lives forever.

To the state, this is the time to honour Liwewe by ensuring that one of the national soccer establishments is named after this great son of Zambia. Nothing less than that will be a fitting tribute to this great son of Africa. One could easily say that Liwewe, through his tireless efforts and commentary, single handedly made soccer the sport it is today in this country.

May His Soul Rest In Peace and God Bless him and his family

Hakainde Hichilema
President UPND

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