Sab’s Eye: Shocker – Gabon Disaster Heroes National Stadium

SaboiBy Saboi Imboela

Zambians, on the 10th of July, woke up to a rude shock when they learnt that the new Lusaka stadium had been named the Gabon Disaster Heroes Stadium.

Until yesterday (Wednesday July 10, 2013), I thought the name of the stadium was already Lusaka Stadium. A lot of Zambians, alive and deceased, have done a lot of outstanding things that need to be recognised and remembered, so naming a stadium after a national hero is not just a great honour but a way of preserving our history.

Many ideas and people like the Gabon disaster heroes, FTJ, Kalusha Bwalya and many more come to mind.

However, the naming of the stadium as ‘Gabon Disaster Heroes National Stadium’ is not only a bad idea but gives the impression that people are not doing what we put them in office for. Simply put, we elect our representatives to think for us and not be our rubber stamps.

Conversely, what they think about should be seen by us the electors to be ‘well thought out’ and the above name does not really build a case, if any, for our proxy thinkers. In cases where these surrogate thinkers fail to come up with a reasonable decision or conclusion to a matter, we expect them to come back to us and ask us if we the true deciders of such decisions have an idea of what needs to be done.

Meaning that, as the bona fide owners and beneficiaries of such processes and decisions, we shall ensure that good solutions are found in cases where our representatives fail to act representatively and give legitimate outcomes.

The number one question on people’s lips is ‘is this true?’ Then followed by questions like, did they sit down to really come up with this? If they sat down, did they really agree that this is a good idea and so should prevail? Who was in that same meeting? Why did they not conduct a competition to get wider and better views from the people if they do not have any good ideas?

A friend of mine went on to suggest that we do not need to change the name of the stadium but Cabinet itself if this is the level of debate and final conclusion that these honourable men can come down to. In short, the name itself is a disaster and one that needs to be rectified soon lest it spreads the disaster even to the very people that sat down to create it.

The way Zambians love to shorten names, imagine Zambia playing at the stadium or the people near the stadium describing an event that is due to take place there, they will simply say ‘at Gabon Disaster’. Then when they lose such a game we even rise up to condemn them? Imagine if your mother had named you Chipuba (fool) simply because your father had impregnated her and run away? Or Kawalala (thief) because your mother or father had stolen something and been caught when you were still in the womb?

The best we have seen are names like Misozi (tears), Mabvuto/Manyando (suffering), but even with these names they do not describe or play out a particular event or incident that directly explains what could have happened to such people’s lives to everyone who mentions it.

In as much as certain things hurt and are significant, like certain events that happen in people’s lives and the Gabon heroes phenomenon, it is always important to project the positive in a name that should signify a new and better beginning post that incident than to name something that reminds you of the horrible event every time you mention it.

Further, how do you combine the words heroes, disaster and Gabon (in this case it could have been any other country where the tragedy could have happened) in one sentence and give it to a stadium? And truth be told, just the name Gabon, after the accident, had been synonymous with pain, sorrow, tragedy and disaster itself to many Zambians.

So to even mix these words like this is emphasising and reinforcing the pain of the whole incident, which unfortunately might be even more painful for the family members of these heroes. This is more so that the report on what led to the death of their relatives has never been released, despite their continued plea to have successive governments release it. In short, these people have never had closure over this matter and such a name is not only ridiculous but insensitive, thoughtless and inconsiderate.

Did these Cabinet Ministers even get an allowance at the meeting where they sat to decide this? If so, then a refund will be in order because such desecration of tax payer’s money should not be entertained.  I am sure they even debated to have it called Gabon Catastrophe Heroes Stadium or Gabon Calamity Heroes Stadium, then in their wise honourable minds they finally decided that the word disaster was more user friendly and sporty for a stadium.

I am hoping that we will get a statement that will say that it was a joke or even that they have heard the cries of the people and that they will give it a sensible or judicious name. If we are not lucky enough to get a retraction, as politicians can sometimes be unnecessarily stubborn, then we shall just have to wait for the right time to change it, because this name should not even be allowed to feel the surface of a billboard.

Until next week, be blessed and take care.