Michigan State University
History of football in colonial and postcolonial Zambia
There were jubilations in Lusaka the capital city of Zambia on February 13, 2012, as the Zambian national football team, popularity known Chipolopolo (Copper-bullets), returned from Libreville, Gabon, after wining the 28th edition of the African Cup of Nations. Zambia beat Ivory Coast 8-7 in a penalty shoot-out to win the cup for the first time since its creation in 1957. The celebration was also a moment of reflection – as Zambians remembered the fatal plane crush in 1993 that killed the entire Zambian national team off the coast of Libreville.
Despite the game’s long history and massive popularity in Zambia, the history of soccer in my country has yet to receive full academic treatment. The presentation I would like to share at the conference at Ohio University is based on my doctoral dissertation proposal at Michigan State University, which intends to produce the first scholarly history of the game in colonial and postcolonial Zambia. My study will focus on the historical development of football in Zambia from 1940 to 1993 and will be devoted to answering these questions: how did football become the most popular sport in Zambia? What political, social, and economic factors influenced the organization, management, and development of football in Zambia? What did football mean to the local people, how did it constitute and symbolize social change? What role did it play in people’s daily lives, both during the colonial era and after independence?
In the presentation I will discuss the documentary evidence I intend to use to reconstruct the history of football in Zambia, including newspapers, magazines, records in the National Archives of Zambia, and in the archives of the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM), governmental sports bodies, the Institute for African Studies of the University of Zambia, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ), and those of various football clubs on the Copperbelt. Private collections of photographs, programs, and correspondence will also be mined. Oral testimony will be crucial to my research, as I plan to interview around 80 people who played various roles in Zambian football over the years. I hope to receive constructive feedback on this proposal at the conference and look forward to the dialogue with experts in the field of African and global sport studies