By Duncan Mlanjira
It’s been two years since one of Malawi’s most revered international football player, Jack ‘Africa’ Chamangwana passed on (30 April 1957-6 May 2018).
After a long stint with Mighty Wanderers, then known as Yamaha Wanderers, Jack left for greener pastures in South Africa where he marveled his Kaiser Chiefs fans and earned the nickname ‘Black Stone’.
The legends he played alongside with in the Malawi national football team included Donnex Gondwe, Clement Mkwalula, Gilbert Chirwa, Patson Nyengo, Dickson Mbetewa, Peter Amos, Moses Majiga, Collins Thewe, Young Chimodzi, Clifton Msiya, Henry Chikunje, Sito Mfarinya, Augustine Munthali, Jonathan Billie and Holman Malunga.
Others were Henry Tewesa, Reuben Malola, Patrick Chikafa, John Dzimbiri, Dennis Saidi, Harry Waya, Thom Kazembe, Stock Dandize, Kinna Phiri, Barnet Gondwe, Mosted Sichinga, just to mention a few.
In a comment to a picture posted by Brian Coombes on Facebook when he had met Jack in the company of Yasin Osman and Bob Mpinganjira at Chikondi Stopover in 2017 as the three were returning from Lilongwe from a Wanderers match fixture, Zambian, Masauso Nzima had said Zambia feared these players ahead of every match.
“Legends indeed, in Malawi and beyond,” Nzima had said. “Brian Coombes, to be honest, Malawi is one of those teams we could never beat or draw with willy nilly.
“You would, on many occasions, give us football lessons — it’s a reality check.”
To which Coombes replied: “Masauso Nzima, we also feared Godfrey ‘Uca’ Chitalo, Debbie Makinka and company.”
Wikipedia records that Jack made his international debut against Kenya in a friendly match on 10 July 1975 and made his final appearance on 16 April 1985 against Mozambique in a 1986 African Cup of Nations qualification game.
He was also part of the squad that made history for their first ever Africa Cup of Nations in 1984 in Côte d’Ivoire and was in the squad that won the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup back to back in 1978 and ‘79.
He played for Kaizer Chiefs between 1986 and 1989 before returning to Malawi to coach his former team Wanderers.
In 2007, he was poached by Tanzanian team, Young Africans as a coach after serving for Football Association of Malawi (FAM) in various technical capacities.
In his chronicles named ‘Throw Back Thursday with Mario’ on FAM’s website before his death, Mario Antoine wrote a piece entitled ‘Africa was never a sub.”
He had said: “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 (popularly known as Africa) 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.
“On that day, under Brazilian coach Wander Moreira, the Flames lined up as follows: Frank Mlotcha,Steven Phiri, Bosco Munthali, Robert Banda, Jack Chamangwana, Montfort Pemba, Spy Msiska, Kinna Phiri, Yasin Osman, Patrick Chikafa and Isaac Muhura.
“Jack was eventually substituted and replaced by Elvin Mwafulirwa. That same year Jack travelled with the team to Zambia as Malawi made its debut appearance at the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup (ECASCC).
The Flames reached the final and lost 1-2 on penalties to Kenya after drawing 2-2 in extra time. He featured in Flames’ 7 games that year.
“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 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Bouake, Côte d’Ivoire 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 11 years with the Flames starting with Brazilian Wander Moreira, followed by caretaker for one 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 is the only player to have appeared in four final matches beginning with the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup final in Lusaka in 1975 which Malawi lost to Kenya then the 1978 final which Malawi won after being Zambia 3-2.
“He was also part of the squad that retained the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup in 1979 beating Kenya 3-2 with goals from Bannet Gondwe, Stock Dandize and Collins Thewe.
“In 1984, Jack appeared in his fourth East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup final in Kampala, Uganda, but ended up with a Silver medal as Malawi lost 0-3 to Zambia.
“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.
“After playing for the South Africa giants Kaizer Chiefs, he was appointed as coach in 1988 before being replaced by Jeff Butler whom he replaced again in 1989.
“Jack was Flames coach in 1998 for 13 games with a record of 1 win, 6 draws and 6 losses. He then served as FAM technical director between 2009 and 2013.
“He was part of the Flames technical team at the 2010 AFCON in Angola. Jack and then assiant coach Young Chimodzi are the only ones who went to AFCON twice as a player in 1984 and an official in 2010.
“Between 2014 and 2015 he served as Flames assistance coach under Young Chimodzi,” wrote Antoine.
Soon after his death, former Wanderers team manager, Limbani Magomero wrote on Facebook: “I remember it was in the very late 70s when my seniors, cousin Dave Chikankabe and his friends Jones Stambuli (RIP), Eddie Nsokera and Cainess Phiri AKA Poly (RIP), took me to the BAT Ground to watch my first-ever organized football match between Yamaha Wanderers and Bata Bullets.
“This game has remained vivid in my mind because it was there and then that I made a decision to support Wanderers. Barnet Gondwe mesmerized me because of his nimble feet, speed and power-packed shot. Indeed he was ‘dynamite’.
“Lawrence Perreira and Robert Banda dictated the pace and flow of the game. Both Wanderers and Bullets responded to what Perreira and Banda decided as the game progressed.
“Wanderers won by 4 goals to zero. I can’t remember all the scorers apart from one that was scored straight from a corner kick by Barnet.
“Bullets had two top goal scorers in the league on their line up — Kinnah Phiri and Spy Msiska. Bullets had — who I considered the best midfielder then — Tom Kazembe, who ably fed the two with appetizing through balls, crosses and passes.
“Indeed this was dangerous for the Nomads. Bullets could have easily scored 10 goals if you consider how many times they got into the Wanderers’ danger zone. But it was to no avail — all because of one man, Jack Africa Chamangwana.
“Jack was a well built and intelligent Wanderers defender, wearing jersey number 5. He was good in the air, on the ground and in attack. All opposition attacks ended at him (chipilala) and all Wanderers attacks started from him. He was the heart of the team.
“He was very disciplined, skillful, humble and an effective leader on the pitch. He led Frank Kamoyo, Joseph Nkhonjera and Christopher Mwanalumbiri in defence, Lawrence Perreira and Robert Banda in midfield, Barnet Gondwe and Kannock Munde in the wings, Boniface Maganga in goals.
“Fast track the clock 20 years later, I was honoured at a tender age of 27 years to be the team manager for Wanderers which was then called MTL Wanderers — and guess who the coach was, YES Jack Chamangwana.
“You can imagine what a tall order that was for me at that age. I just couldn’t figure out how I could manage and give instructions to this larger than life individual who by then had played for and coached Kaizer Chiefs, coached Young Africans of Tanzania, played, captained and coached Malawi national team — just to mention a few of his achievements.
“But to my surprise he became my best friend, advisor and teacher. I owe all my technical knowledge of the game to him. A very humble and down-to-earth character he was.
“May the soul of Jack Chamangwana Rest In Peace,” wrote Magomero.
As compiled by Mario Antoine, the following is a summary of his 133 games:
Event P W D L
Friendlies 58 32 16 10
ECASCC 42 23 9 10
ACN qualifiers 14 4 5 5
WC qualifiers 7 2 1 4
AAG finals 5 0 0 5
ACN finals 3 0 1 2
Zone VI qualifiers 3 2 0 1
AAG qualifiers 1 1 0 0
Total 133 64 32 37
AAG: All Africa Games
WC: World Cup
Year Appearance Goals
1975 7 0
1976 15 0
1977 13 2
1978 19 1
1979 14 1
1980 13 1
1981 15 3
1982 7 0
1983 11 1
1984 14 1
1985 5 0
Total. 133 10