A good number of legendary Flames players had labels or nicknames attached to them in their playing days; Kinnah Phiri was called “Electric”, Jack Chamangwana was nicknamed “Africa” and interestingly, Peterkins Kaira was nicknamed “Beirut”.
Why Kinnah Phiri and Jack Chamangwana were nicknamed as such will be subject for another day. In this piece, my focus is on Peterkins Kaira.
I still remember watching Peterkins Kaira at Zomba Community Centre Ground way back when I was a small boy. That time he was playing for Civil Service United which many people simply called Civo. I also still remember that dribbling wizard Austin Nyondo was also in that same team.
But my fresh memories about Peterkins Kaira are those of 1988 when I was in Standard 8 at Bwaila Primary School in the city Zomba. This is the year when the Malawi national football team became champions of the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup after beating Zambia 3-1 in the finals at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
Malawi’s three goals were scored by Holman Malunga, Peterkins Kaira and Young Chimodzi Senior (I can’t remember the order). The Zambian team had players like Effort Chabala (GK), Kapambwe Mulenga and Beston Chambeshi, just to mention a few. I was following the game on the only radio station at that time and the commentators were Steve Liwewe Banda (English) and Geoffrey Msampha (Chichewa).
But how did the nickname “Beirut” for Kaira come about?
Well, I happen to be on the same WhatsApp group with this legend. The group comprises sports journalists, sports administrators and sports fanatics.
Then, on Wednesday afternoon, amidst another subject under discussion, Voice of Livingstonia sports reporter and presenter, Allan Nyirenda, quizzed Kaira on how this nickname came about. The humble and outspoken legend told Allan that he was busy but Allan should come remind him about the issue in the evening. I too became very eager to learn the genesis of the name “Beirut” as bestowed on Kaira in those days.
As usual, in the evening, the group was full of conversation on other issues. Allan Nyirenda sprang out from his shell to remind the legend about the nickname. It’s possible that some of you reading this piece already know how it came about but I, together with many other members of that group, learnt about it from Kaira himself on Wednesday evening.
“In 1982 when I joined Limbe Leaf Wanderers, I was just the fittest player in the Blantyre and Districts Football League (BDFL) until I moved to Lilongwe in 1984. And every weekend we used to have two games,” began Kaira.
“In each game, the teams we played against always suffered serious injuries like bone cracks, twists of ankles, head cuts, serious feet cuts and bruises; all because of the six studded boots that I used to wear. Even during a 1:30 pm match at BAT Ground, I used to wear six studded boots,” continued the legend.
He went on to explain that then one weekend while at the national team camp, his team played Admarc Tigers and Berec Power Pack. He injured Jonathan Billie (Admarc Tigers) and Frank Sinalo (Berec Power Pack) in those two encounters.
Back in camp on Monday, it is Maloya Siliya who started calling Kaira “Beirut”. That time, explained Kayira, there was an ongoing war in Beirut, Lebanon and that morning on international news five people were killed in Beirut. Coincidentally, five players also got injured the previous weekend due to Kaira;s hard tackling.
When Jack Chamangwana jokingly asked what had happened to Jonathan and Frank, Maloya Siliya said, “anapita ku Beirut ndiye anakumana nazo. Paja kwafa 5. Ndiye wopita kwa Peterkins adziwe kuti wapita ku Beirut” (They went to Beirut and fell into big trouble. Remember five have been killed. Anybody tussling with Peterkins should know he has gone to Beirut).
“And that was the birth of this name. The next weekend I saw in the newspaper Daring Chirwa ‘of Daily Times ]writing Peterkins ‘Beirut’ Kaira,” concluded the legend.
Well, that’s it about the famous nickname “Beirut”.
It is my hope and prayer that I can find time to learn more about Kinnah, Jack, and of course nicknames like “Buruchaga” which was bestowed upon late Frank Mtawali, “4 wheel drive ” on Dickson Mbetewa, “Nguli” on Jonathan Billie and many more from our legends.
When I get enough information about these others, I will surely come back to share with you, one at a time.
Once again, allow me to salute Peterkins “Beirut” Kaira for today.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :