They walked to the podium, speeches in hand and ready to pay tribute to one of Malawi’s much-loved and respected soccer legends-Jack ‘Africa’ Chamangwana. Tears filled their eyes as the reality sank that Chamangwana, 61, was gone.
President Peter Mutharika and his Vice Saulos Klaus Chilima led Malawians as they paid their last respects at Chamangwana’s funeral, calling the former Flames player a soccer giant and a patriot.
The former Flames, Be Forward Wanderers and Kaizer Chiefs defender passed away on Sunday evening following high blood pressure after being admitted for nearly five days.
And speaking on behalf of Mutharika, Sports Minister Francis Kasaila told the gathering that Chamangwana was an “absolute gentleman” and a “fierce winner” who served Malawi with passion and dedication.
Earlier in the day, Kaizer Chiefs founder Kaizer Motaung sent a condolence message which was read at Chamangwana’s memorial service at the Upper Stadium before mourners proceeded to Misesa Cemetery where his body was led to rest.
“I write to you with tears of sobbing after receiving devastating news of the passing of your beloved branch in the Chamangwana family tree. No words can describe how much saddened I am with the news of the passing of Jack ‘Black Stone’ Chamangwana.
“With this message, I wish to confirm my solidarity with the family in mourning the death of the one we called The Black Stone during his heydays. His was a life of football that epitomized success considering his achievements during his playing stint at Kaizer Chiefs from 1986 until 1988. I am glad that he returned to his native country to serve Malawian football as Technical Director for Malawian heavyweights Be Forward Wanderers.
“The Black Stone endeared himself in the hearts and minds of Kaizer Chiefs supporters and South African football fraternity at large. He was loved, indeed! His contribution speaks volumes and is cast in stone in the history books of Kaizer Chiefs and football in general. We won several accolades during his time at Kaizer Chiefs and most notably winning the League Championship under his wing as our coach in 1989.
“The Black Stone may be gone but, there’s so much to cherish in his memory. I wish God will grant you the spirit to forge ahead under the circumstances. His well-lived life is worth a celebration.
“It is time to accept that the Black Stone has left us with fond memories. It is difficult I know! Rest assured, God will not desert you especially during the dark days. The Black Stone will be resurrected to live peacefully in heaven.
“In trying to console myself, I recall vividly March 2017 when we invited the late Jack to the Soweto Derby. I relived the glory days with him and enjoyed lunch together. Little did I know his visit was his goodbye. So sad. During his visit, he shared his knowledge of football and told me he watched every Kaizer Chiefs match on DStv. I’m glad to have shared in his life and times. What a great gentleman!
“God be with you Chamangwana family, Wanderers FC, Malawian Football Association and the football community at large. Please receive my deepest heartfelt condolences and may the Peace and Love of the Lord engulf your passage as you go through this valley of darkness,” reads the statement from Motaung.
Chamangwana died while serving Wanderers as the Technical Director and his former club through Chairman Gift Mkandawire has vowed to defend the league as one way of honoring their fallen hero.
The late Chamangwana was Malawi’s second most capped player, having made 133 appearances from 1975-1985.
He was part of Malawi’s 1984 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) squad before retiring in 1985.
In 1986, ‘Africa’ Chamangwana left Malawi for South Africa where he joined Chiefs before coaching the club in 1988.
He also coached Malawi in 1998 before being named Technical Director from 2009-2013.
Between 2014 and 2015, the late Chamangwana served as Flames assistant coach under Young Chimodzi.