Kamzingeni Zulu (left) and Nanthuru hands over the sponsorship to Kabichi
* Staff empowerment, staff motivation, community service and sports development — all relied into one
* He will surely come back from this event a lot more motivated—Potbelly owner Nanthuru
* You have also contributed towards Tour de Dwangwa’s charity drive as a community service
* Tour de Dwangwa is a charity event organised by Dwangwa Round Table 69
By Duncan Mlanjira
After realising that Prince Charles Kabichi — the chef who serves them well at Potbelly Lodge in Naperi, Blantyre — is a passionate professional cyclist, the lodge’s bar and restaurant patrons mobilized funds for him to participate at the return of the annual Tour de Dwangwa.
Tour de Dwangwa is a charity event organised by Dwangwa Round Table 69 which Kabichi has participated before but he couldn’t afford to do so this year due to lack of funds.
He has also been inactive in the past four years due to CoVID-19 during which his bike and racing gear got damaged and he couldn’t afford to raise enough money to replace them.
While on duty one day, he overheard one of the patrons, Medson Kalambule explaining that he was a passionate cyclist but he no longer races because of an ankle injury sustained in another sporting activity but his bike was still parked in his garage.
Kabichi engaged Kalambule privately when the flier for Tour de Dwangwa was posted on social media in the hope of borrowing the parked bike to practice and use it for the race.
In their engagement, Kalambule — who is a member of Blantyre Round Table — found out that Kabichi can’t even afford the registration fee K10,000, travel costs by public transport, accommodation and stay over expenses in Dwangwa.
Kalambule then engaged his friends at Potbelly — most of whom are very prominent professionals in the country that included former Blantyre City Mayor, Noel Chalamanda — who agreed to raise the funds in the spirit of staff empowerment, staff motivation, community service and sports development, all rolled into one package.
The presentation of the sponsorship was officially done on Wednesday evening at Potbelly Lodge, Bar & Restaurant — owned by prominent lawyer Arthur Nanthuru — who said Kabichi will compete at the Tour de Dwangwa under the banner of Potbelly members as his sponsors.
Nanthuru paid tribute to all the patrons for the assistance for Kabichi to fulfill his passion and dream of taking his cycling career to the top, saying “he will surely come back from this event a lot more motivated and most likely continue to serve us all with more enthusiasm in the future”.
He further applauded the patrons saying “such generosity is rare” in that they visit the hospitality facility not just to pass the time but to engage themselves on how they can make an impact on the society.
“These are tough economic times but you spared your hard-earned money to assist Charles in this way,” he said. “He will not come back very motivated to serve you even better but you have also contributed towards Tour de Dwangwa’s charity drive as a community service.”
Present at the handover was village headman Zingwangwa, who doffed his hat for the gesture by the patrons, saying “this is an excellent initiative to reach out and make an impact on an athlete and the community at large through the Tour de Dwangwa”.
“I’ve learnt a lot from you from this ceremony,” said the Chief, who sponsors Zingwangwa United — a football team that is currently second in the Southern Region Football League’s Division One and set for promotion into the Premier League.
“Blessings come from very small contributions, whether financial or material assistance. Let’s continue supporting the community we strive in because there are many challenges we face in our areas.”
Convener of the ceremony Mphatso Kamzingeni Zulu — who is also passionate charity initiatives — said the initial budget was pegged at K140,000 but the contributions reach over K265,000 and has also been used to buy bikes spares — two tyres, two tubes and a chain.
“Charles is a good fellow, he serves us well and when we heard he is such a passionate cyclist, we all did not hesitate to come together and mobilize the funds,” he said.
He asked Kabichi to represent them well at the event as he will be dressed in Potbelly-branded T/shirt and that a Potbelly banner will also be displayed at the race.
Kabichi said he is a member of Blantyre Cycling Club for the past seven years under coach Dyton Chimwaza, a veteran in the trade and that he has participated in several charity races before — one being Tour de Chikwawa that raised funds to pay for underprivileged children.
He became a certified chef after being trained Catholic Institute at Nantipwiri in Thyolo and became passionate of cycling through a Priest when he worked at Bee Hive in Chilomoni.
“But CoVID-19 affected me so much such that I lost my bike. I joined Potbelly last year and I immensely enjoy my job here, which helps to sustain my family.
“I took the courage to approach Mr. Kalambule because we share the same passion of cycling and I am so grateful of his initiative to approach the others on my wish to resuscitate my passion.
“I have taken so long but in the past week, since he gave me the bike, I have practised very hard. I have cycled as far as Neno, Chikwawa, Zomba, Mulanje as well as around Blantyre.
“I am hoping to be back in groove after Dwangwa to compete for top levels because I intend to compete for the title and not just to participate,” he said.