Today, Zambia commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Gabon air disaster.
While I was only 13 when the crash happened, I vividly remember where I was on Wednesday April 28, 1993 when I first heard about the horrific news through a neighbour of Somali descent who came to inquire whether we knew that Zambia had a funeral. We readily dismissed her story until we turned on the radio to our rude shock.
Zambia had woken up to a devastating news after the entire Zambian national soccer team—18 players and 5 team officials—died on the night of April 27, 1993. They were on their way to a World Cup qualifying match against Senegal when their plane crashed into the Atlantic just off the coast of Libreville, Gabon.
It sometimes sounds like a cliché when we refer to this team as our fallen heroes. We tend to forget how talented these guys were and some of us may not have watched them grace the field with their skills.
But, when you hear the names listed below, it really hits you that we really lost a group of probably the best collection of Zambian players ever to be assembled.
It is only prudent to pay tribute to the fallen heroes as they were the pioneers of the present success by the current national team.
Though I was only in my early teens when our country suffered this tragedy, I will have to die before I forget our fallen heroes. It's hard to believe it's 20 years now.
I can't help but read their names in a 'Dennis-Liwewe voice' because that's how most of us remember hearing their names on the radio.
Efford "Ichipembya" Chabala
John "Panduka" Soko
Whiteson "Brigo" Changwe
Samuel "Bigsam" Chomba
Eston "Yellowman" Mulenga
Derby "Makinka" Mankinka
Moses Chikwalakwala
Wisdom "Summer Bee" Chansa
Kelvin "Malaza" Mutale
Numba "Pishapo Yaya" Mwila
Patrick "Bomber" Banda
Richard "Rich Combs" Mwanza
Kennan "Mbintu Bichinga" Simambe
Timothy "Teacher, Zico, Mpompompo" Mwitwa
Godfrey "Dunga" Kangwa
Wynter Mumba
Alex "Computer" Chola
Godfrey "Ucar" Chitalu.

May the souls of these faithful departed rest in eternal peace. Their legacy lives on.