A poet, unassuming and, in the words of Zambia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Board of Control (ZPBWBC) chair Nelson Sapi, Chris Mulenga was a “cool headed person, a good listener and was always ready to work with anyone.”
Mulenga was put to rest this past Wednesday at Ndola’s Kansenshi Cemetery after his demise on December 17 and serving the ZPBWCB for over 20 years, the longest period of any member in the board’s history.
You could say, he was the pillar of the board what with him being the custodian of the Boxing Act and spearheading its amendment when female boxing was legally introduced in Zambia in 2010, although female boxing started earlier on.
Mulenga was technical sub-committee chairman for more than 20 years and was board secretary for a spell until I was appointed to take over briefly in 2015 because it was decided that the secretary should be Lusaka-based. Mulenga used to shuttle between Ndola and Lusaka to carry out his duties.
Sapi, in a speech read for him by acting board chair, finance sub-committee chair and acting secretary David Nseluka noted that it was because of Mulenga’s “vast experience” that the board appointed him secretary from time to time and he executed his duties professionally.
Sapi noted that Mulenga’s passing was not only a huge blow to the board “but to the entire professional boxing fraternity in Zambia.” Before my stint at the board I always met Mulenga at Boxing tournaments but these encounters were not enough to give a full insight of the man.
One day he had come from Ndola to the secretariat and before the start of a board meeting he unravelled what lay behind his gentle and mild character before me.
He showed me some certificates of recognition of his poetry by some educational institutions in Zambia and a collection of so many poems. When I asked him whether he had considered writing a poetry column for any of the local newspapers, he said he hadn’t and did not know how to go about it.
It was at this point that I proposed to him that when next he came to Lusaka, he should remind me to come along with me to the Times of Zambia to pitch the idea of doing a column with the management.
When he came, I took and introduced him to former Times features editor Stanslous Ngosa. Mulenga came armed with his supporting credentials and after his meeting with Ngosa, a poetry column was soon introduced in this paper.
I felt proud to have helped a colleague open a new door for his literary works, powerful, inspirational and emotive poems, including one in which he implored the insurgent Boko Haram to release the hundreds of Chibok girls it had captured from a school.
Funny how things work; Mulenga told me he was an avid reader of this column which appears in the Saturday edition of this paper which coincidentally also carried his column.
I will always remember Chris for his keen sense of humour, generosity (often bought meals for others when he came to Lusaka), simple and down to earth disposition.
I treasure the guidance he gave me as board secretary. What else can one say about the humble man who oozed friendship and mingled with all and sundry? May his soul rest in eternal peace.
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