Take the Great North Road from Lusaka and as you approach Ten Miles you’ll find this sculpture in a maize field. Zambians love their maize and their football. Nshima, made from maize flour, is the staple food in Zambia – and football is the national game here.
The Zambian national team are nicknamed the Chipolopolo – the Copper Bullets. It’s worth telling the story of their tragic accident and their greatest triumph nearly twenty years later. In 1993, on their way to a World Cup qualifier, the team’s plane crashed into the sea near Libreville in Gabon, killing everyone on board. 30 people died, including 18 players.
By coincidence, Gabon hosted the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012. Once again the Zambian squad flew to Libreville, arriving safely this time. And against all expectations they reached the final, in which they played a strong Ivory Coast team. Zambia won on penalties after extra time.
The cup final was played just a few hundred metres from the scene of the crash. I wish I could tell you that the sculpture near Ten Miles was made to celebrate the renaissance of the Chipolopolo, but I’d be lying. Apparently the maize field belongs to a sports promoter and the sculpture’s there to advertise his business.