THE passing of soccer commentator Dennis Liwewe makes sad reading coming barely six days shy of the 21st anniversary of the 1993 Gabon Disaster which claimed the entire national soccer team.
Mr Liwewe traversed the globe with the KK11 squad in search of glory.
We join his family in mourning the demise of a soccer commentator who pulled more crowds to listen to his radio commentaries than people would care to watch on television, let alone make their way to the stadium.
In fact, during Mr Liwewe’s heydays in the commentary box, it was common for soccer fans to carry small radios around just to follow the excitement with which he analysed matches though with a palpable partisan stance.
Mr Liwewe’s high-pitched tone and breathless recital of footballing knowledge made him a distinctive and celebrated commentator.
The moving eulogy he gave during the funeral of the 1993 Gabon Disaster victims drew tears from many faces as he spoke of the gallant men who were touted as the only hope Zambian soccer fans had to reach the World Cup finals.
As a journalist, Mr Liwewe excelled as much as he did in the commentary box after starting out in 1971 at the then Anglo-American Corporation, as a junior reporter on the mining newspaper – The Nchanga Drum.
He climbed the professional ladder rapidly, taking over as assistant editor, and ultimately editor of the publication.
Four years later, he was transferred to the public relations department to become public relations officer in 1974.
He later moved to Lusaka as director of media and public relations at the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM).
He also caught the eye of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) who made him a sports correspondent. In 1977, he was awarded the Order of Distinguished Service by First Republican President Kenneth Kaunda, in recognition of his contribution to the development of soccer.
While Mr Liwewe spent too much time at work, he still spared time for his family comprising wife Silvia, four children and 11 grand children. He prided himself in giving his children an education, a decent one to borrow his candour.
His other side of life was shown when he led the Future Search as an external consultant. Future Search is an organisation which was formed to prepare the destiny of retirees after leaving their jobs.
The kind of person we are mourning today is summed up by the amount of tributes that have continued pouring in for the iconic commentator whose high-pitched voice will for a long time continue to reverberate in the minds of many soccer fans.
The journalism profession has indeed lost a colossus who articulated the English language with abandoned ease as eulogised by many including President Michael Sata.
His ability to dissect the length of the football pitch with his estimation of distances during commentaries was second to none.
For a long time, Mr Liwewe and other pundits regarded the departed 1993 squad as the most successful arguing that success should be measured by the number of wins and the type of opposition, which the all-conquering gallant men buried outside the Independence Stadium achieved.
The legendary commentator continued to believe in the Chipolopolo’s abilities even when others had lost hope. To a larger extent, the 2012 AFCON success came on the back of Mr Liwewe’s prophecy in the Sakala Brothers song that ‘as we enter the 21st century, let us pool our resources together for the glory of mother Zambia.’
One side of Mr Liwewe that some people might not have known is his prayerful nature which saw him rise to the position of canon in the Anglican Church where he was a devoted member along Church Road in Lusaka.
As the country mourns the passing of the legend, we look forward to more successes on the football pitch, in the commentary box and in the journalism profession in general to honour his legacy that he leaves behind.
At 78, Mr Liwewe lived his life.
Go well comrade Dennis Liwewe, you have run your race!