Such was his extraordinary appeal and brilliance as a defender that legendary Zambian commentator Dennis Liwewe nicknamed him ‘Africa’, literally meaning he was the best defender on the continent.
And after over 40 years spent in a game that was dearest to his heart, Jack Chamangwana, 61, waved goodbye to the world of the living on Sunday evening after an illness at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, sparking emotional tributes from both within and beyond the borders.
Be Forward Wanderers, his childhood team that he served with the loyalty of a saint for years, set the tone in a statement released shortly after his death which partly reads: “Our heartfelt condolences to Be Forward Wanderers FC family and the entire football fraternity. We have lost a pillar and a legend as a team. We will miss you our technical director Jack ‘Africa’ Chamangwana.”
The Nomads’ age-old rivals Nyasa Big Bullets said they are deeply saddened by the loss of a true icon and a football legend.
“We convey our love and peace and heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, Mighty Be Forward Wanderers FC family and the entire Malawian football fraternity for the loss. We pray for strength and comfort as we mourn with you. May the soul of Jack Chamangwana rest in eternal peace,” reads part of the People’s Team statement signed by their chief executive officer Fleetwood Haiya.
And in a statement issued yesterday morning, South Africa soccer giants Kaizer Chiefs, where Chamangwana starred both as a coach and player, said they were devastated with the news.
“Our hearts are heavy and with sadness as we bid farewell to one of Amakhosi soldiers, KC [Kaizer Chiefs] legend, Jack ‘The Blackstone’ Chamangwana. Our thoughts are with his family and the rest of the Amakhosi family,” read the Chiefs’ statement
That was not all. The Glamour Boys’ owner and founder Kaizer Motaung told the club’s website: “I have received the devastating news of Jack Chamangwana’s passing. I’m still reeling from the shock of hearing this sad news.
“Black Stone made his mark in the gold and black colours of Amakhosi. We achieved many accolades during his stint with us. Who will forget Championship winning year 1989? Black Stone was there as our coach.
“In March last year, we invited him to the Soweto derby. I relived the glory days with him while enjoying 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!
“On behalf of the Kaizer Chiefs family, I would like to send love and peace and heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, friends, Wanderers FC and the Malawian football family.”
Tanzanian top outfit Young Africans also posted on their Facebook page that they were “shocked and saddened” with the news of their former coach’s death.
Revered South African sports television and radio personality Robert Marawa tweeted: “BREAKING: Mr Jack Africa Chamangwana has passed away this evening at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. May his soul rest in peace. I remember interviewing this LEGEND on radio last year, what a gentleman!! ?? #RIPJack.”
Flames legend Kinnah Phiri, who played alongside the deceased in the national team for close to a decade before teaming up in the technical panel later on, said he was failing to come to terms with his colleague’s demise.
“When I heard the news last evening my mind was filled with memories of the times we spent together since we were young. We reached a point whereby we became brothers. He was such a gentleman.
“In football, I would say he was one of the finest players this country has produced and the best defender. He was wise in the ways of football. During our playing days, he was the only one who gave me tough times,” said the former Flames coach.
Nomads coach Yasin ‘Titch’ Osman said apart from being an exceptional player, Chamangwana also had leadership qualities.
“That is why he served as captain for the national team for a long time.. Jack was also unique in that he helped shape the lives of players to become better.
“While we have to accept God’s will, but it is painful. We worked and grew up together since the 1970s, a true legend who gave out his best all the time and it will be difficult to replace him,” he said.
On his part, the Nomads’ longest serving player Joseph Kamwendo described Chamangwana as the face of Wanderers.
“You can’t talk about Wanderers or the Flames without Jack then the story will be incomplete. He was a father figure, someone who would always give you a push when the chips were down.
“We will never have another Jack Chamangwana and I feel honoured to have played under him both at club and national team level,” said the former Nomads captain.
Retired football commentator Pearson Chunga wrote from his base in Mbabane, Swaziland yesterday: “I had the privilege of reporting about this man’s soccer career as he rose from his debut match in Zambia during Malawi’s maiden participation in East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup to the time he lifted the cup on November 19 1978.” n