Birth and roots
Timothy Mwitwa was born on May 21, 1969 in Kitwe, adding on to the list of seven others of his Gabon Air Disaster colleagues who were also born in the same town as him.
The Kitwe-born group of seven, from the squad of eighteen players who perished in the 1993 plane crash off the shores of the Gabonese capital Libreville, are the Kabwe Warriors duo defenders of Whiteson Changwe and Samuel Chomba, defence pillar Nkana’s Eston Mulenga and Power Dynamos’ left-back Winter Mumba in addition to midfielder Wisdom Mumba Chansa of South Africa’s Dynamos Football Club, the club he was playing for at the time.
Style of play and nickname
Deceptive, outrageously skillful, ultra-intelligent, a consummate dribbler, a scorer of wonder and wonderful goals, of slender frame would best describe the man they fondly called “Teacher” or “Tiger” by his sea of admirers both at club and national level.
Owing largely to his supreme confidence and unfailing ability to face any defender and beat him to the ball again and again, Mwitwa was aptly and appropriately given the nickname “Teacher” – a name seen in the same light of a teacher giving lessons to his pupil.
He was alternatively dubbed Tiger, because, according to his fans, he had this rare craftiness and cleverness of thought and expert timing akin to a tiger which, when approaching its target in the wild, in an effort to capture its prey, will, more often than not, catch its victim with its pants down. Mwitwa was similarly seen as employing such tactics whenever he was on the ball and face-to-face with his marker of any description.
It was while at Kabwe Warriors that Mwitwa attracted the entire Zambian football family with his exciting wing play in the late 1980s. By his emergence on the scene, he brought about sweet memories of other exciting wingers of the late 1960s, through to the mid-1980s, in the names of Rhokana United’s (Nkana) trinity of Moses “Chairman” Simwala, Brighton “Shanghai Jo” Sinyangwe and Henry Kalimukwa, Joseph Mapulanga, Mufulira Wanderers’ foursome of Willie Mukwasa, Philemon “Shombo” Mulala and the brothers Benjamin Bwalya Jr and young kid Kalusha.
Others are Green Buffaloes’ duo of Pele Kaimana and Bizwell Phiri, Kitwe United and City of Lusaka’s Emment Kapengwe, Nkwazi’s duet of Peter Kawina and Van Handavu and the twosome of Power Dynamos’ twosome of Peter Kaumba and Lucky Msiska among others.
Aged 18 in 1987, Mwitwa was already an integral part of the Railway Ground team that won the club’s first Premier League title (and the fifth title overall) – a win that gave the young tiger an insight what success with a big team like Warriors is all about. There can be no doubting the fact that the experience must have given Mwitwa the gigantic appetite and desire to win more and more.
The 1978 Warriors team had the likes of Richard Mwanza, Whiteson Changwe, James Chitalu, Maxon Mugala and Samuel Chomba among others.
And after a brief spell in the old Czechoslovakia, in 1991 Mwitwa would return to the Railway Ground (Godfrey Chitalu Stadium) to help his relegated team make a swift return to the Premier League in 1992 after having suffered relegation to the lower tier (First Division) at the end of the 1990 season – Warriors’ first ever since the team became of the inaugural 1962 National Football League (NFL).
Since winning the Premier League title in 1987, Mwitwa and company, Warriors, for all its rich history and heritage, have yet to capture the title again.
The highest notch former Mwitwa’s team has ever climbed on the elite log since winning the title in 1987 is third – in 2001, 2003 and 2007.
Other than the 1987 league title win, while at Warriors, Mwitwa won the Charity Shield twice in 1988 and 1992.
In the 1988 final played at Lusaka’s Independence Stadium, Warriors beat Mutondo Stars with Mwitwa, the man fans fondly dubbed Tiger owing to his sublime and stealthy skills, scoring the first goal while Christopher Kunda stabbed in the winner. Edward Chimba scored for Mutondo.
And in the 1992 final of the season opener played at Lusaka’s Woodlands Stadium, Mwitwa was a spearhead in the 3-0 destruction of Power Dynamos, scoring the second goal while Maybin M’gaiwa and fellow Gabon Air Disaster victim, Whiteson Changwe, scored the first and third goals respectively.TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW