Last Thursday, I enjoyed reading a piece by Mario Alec Antoine on his column ‘Throwback Thursday’ which he is running on Football Association of Malawi (FAM) website in which he is posting excerpts of his book on the history of Malawi football, which will be published in December 2018.
He wrote about Jack ‘Africa’ Chamangwana, Malawi’s most talented former footballer. He was a defender par excellence. He played for, captained and coached Mighty Wanderers; he played for, captained and coached South African club Kaizer Chiefs and he played for, captained and coached Malawi national team aka the Flames.
Entitled ‘Africa was never a sub’, Antoine wrote: “I begin by wishing Jack Chamangwana birthday wishes as he celebrated one on Monday. I have been privileged to have worked with many soccer legends at Mobile Motors Limited (now Toyota Malawi) and Jack was amongst them. Other stars that were my work colleagues were Zorro Msiska, Mustafa Munshi, Robert Kamwendo, Charles Satha, Peter Tsinabuto and Bernard Chirwa.
“Jack is the second Flames most capped player with 133 appearances. Amazingly he started in all the matches and was never a substitute. He made his debut in a friendly match against Kenya on 10 July 1975 in Lilongwe as an 18-year-old. Flames won this game 3-1 with legend Kinna Phiri getting a brace while Isaac Muhura scored the other goal.
“In the next two years, Jack played in all the 28 games that took place and even scored his first ever goal in a 2-0 win over Botswana in a friendly match away in Gaborone in 1977. He also played in all the matches played in 1980 (13) and 1982 (7). On 3rd October 1982, in an African Cup of Nations Qualifier against Zimbabwe in Harare, Jack made his 100th appearance as Malawi won 2-0.
“Two years later, in Malawi’s first ever appearance at the African Cup of Nations finals in Bouake, Ivory Coast on 08 April 1984, Jack overtook Kinna Phiri as the most capped player after featuring in a two-all draw against Nigeria. This was his 118th match and his record as Flames most capped played lasted for seven years before being broken by Young Chimodzi in 1991.
“Jack played under seven coaches during his eleven years with the Flames starting with Brazilian Wander Moreira, followed by caretaker for 1 game Hydri Kondwani, Englishmen George Curtis and Ted Powell. This was then followed by two Malawians, caretaker Alex Masanjala and Henry Moyo while his last coach was Danny McLennan from Scotland.
“Jack played his last match for the Flames on 16th April 1985 in Maputo against Mozambique in an African Cup of Nations 2nd leg qualifier which ended one-all on aggregate and Malawi lost 6-5 on penalties. This how the Flames lined up on Chamangwanas’s last match:
“John Dzimbiri, Harry Waya, Reuben Malola, Collins Thewe, Jack Chamangwana, Young Chimodzi, Lawrence Waya, Jonathan Billie, Frank Sinalo, Peterkins Kayira and Clifton Msiya. Dickson Mbetewa and Holman Malunga came on as subs for Malola and Jack,” wrote Antoine.
What a great piece. Just that same day, I shared this with a friend, Ken Msonthi which reminded him to inform me that Jack was admitted at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital and we had planned to go and visit him.
Msonthi was friends and work colleague with Jack’s brother, late George Chamangwana, who played alongside brother at Wanderers and at the time of his death was the club’s chairman.
In his recollection, Antoine chronicles that Jack left for South Africa in 1986 where he played for giants Kaizer Chiefs. He coached Chiefs in 1988 before being replaced by Jeff Butler whom he replaced again in 1989. He also coached Young Africans of Tanzania in 2006.
Jack was Flames coach in 1998 for 13 games with a record of 1 win 6 draws and 6 loses. He then served as FAM technical director between 2009 and 2013. He was part of the Flames technical team at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations. Jack and then assiant coach Young Chimodzi are the only ones who went to Afcon twice as a player in 1984 and an officia in 2010.
He did his part in football locally and internationally and as he is laid to rest, let us all spare a kind thought towards the bereaved Chamangwana family, which has lost two famiĺy stalwarts in under a year.
Rescuicat in Pace my legend (Latin for rest in peace). Heavens have gained a legend.