A View from the Other Side of Zamadolo’s Coin
It is a Saturday morning, December 10, 2022. Clouds are pregnant, foretelling an imminent downpour in the city of Blantyre.
As at 1 PM, it had already rained in the city. The dark cloud is gone from the sky, and new red and sky-blue cloud is created down the Kamuzu stadium.
Bullets supporters clad in red and Silver Strikers in their sky-blue color are now flocking to the soccer mecca, of course with other “aganyu” coming to witness who will make it to the final stage of Airtel Top 8 Zamadolo tournament.
Among the people is this young man, but he is not clad in any team wear. Others are heading towards the stadium entry gates, but he is sitting down along the Rugby Stadium brick fence close to the football stadium.
Gently, he takes off his fat black backpack. What is inside? This question takes me closer to him to see. He opens it. Stickers and tumblers are what fattened the bag.
The man starts pasting the stickers on the tumblers. I went closest and greeted him. His smiling face captivated my attention and beckoned me to start talking with him.
“Tipange ganyu wa lero,” [let me do my today’s job] he said to me. That’s where our conversation began.
Gerald Ndembo ceases the opportunity in the Zamadolo tournament. When the teams eye the trophy on the pitch, the Soche-based Ndembo eyes the fortune off the pitch.
He sells plastic tumblers outside the stadium. He brands them with stickers of teams playing in the tournament.
“You know the super league ended some time back. This Airtel Top 8 is a savior because I am able to make a living. If my family will eat today, it is because of the money I am going to make from today’s match,” says Ndembo.
Ndembo, 31, has a wife and looks after three other relatives. Together, they are five. All of them look up to the proceeds of his business.
“If it were not for this tournament, life today would have been tough because I rely much on the football matches to sell the tumblers,” he said.
On this particular day, Ndembo said he expected to make K200, 000 if he had sold all the 200 tumblers he has brought to the stadium.
Sometimes, he orders up to 300 tumblers, he said.
“I sell each tumbler at K1, 000. If all goes well, I will make K200, 000 today. Each branded tumbler cost me K600, so I make K400 profit on each tumbler.
“That means, if I sell all these, I will make a profit of K40, 000. This is enough to feed my family and support my parents in the village. On a good day, I sell up to 400 tumblers,” says Ndembo.
Frank Makuluni has travelled all the way from Thyolo to watch the match. Around his neck is a scurf of his favorite team, and on his head is a hat of the same.
"I have bought them right here at the stadium. They are a morale booster to my team. They demonstrate my true colors on the terraces. When players see these on the stands, they work hard knowing that they should not disappoint their fans.
"These seemingly little things are very important to the game. Our responsibility as fans is to bring morale to the sport. These things are morale boosters. They show our identity," he told Zodiak Online.
Outside the stadium are so many people capitalizing on the Zamadolo by running various economic activities for their living, besides energizing the sport through their merchandizes.
Ndembo is one example of many people benefitting from Airtel Top 8 tournament off the pitch.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 1 calls for poverty reduction in all its forms everywhere.
By 2030, the Goal targets eradicating extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day (app K1, 500).
People such as Ndembo have been benefitting from the tournament for five years now, being the tournament’s fifth season this year.
In advancing the Malawi 2063 Vision, the government of Malawi is calling for all development partners to align their activities to the Vision.
“The Malawi 2063 Vision is the aspirations of Malawians. Therefore, every development programme in Malawi is supposed to align to the vision.
“This starts with government programmes, private sector and NGO programmes. That way, the vision will be realized,” said Thom Khanje, spokesperson for the National Planning Commission in a previous interview with Zodiak Online.
The Vision aspires to have a self-reliant and a middle-income nation by 2063 which Zamadolo is silently advancing off the pitch.