Zambian Soccer Historian
My names are Hikabwa (Decius) Chipande; I come from Zambia, a country in Central-Southern Africa. I am a doctoral student in the Department of History at Michigan State University. My research interests focus on 20th century political and social history of soccer (football) in Zambia. My Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellowship (CHI) Program is, therefore, key in helping me learn how to use web tools that will be useful in collaborating, sharing of resources, information and work with football scholars and supporters.
Workwise, I love teaching. I taught high school History and Physical Education in Zambia for 4 years. Thereafter, I got involved in Sport for Development, a project where sport is used as a tool for sustainable community development and education. I had a great time in this field and worked for Sport for Development projects in South Africa, Zambia and Norway. Although I am not a gifted athlete, I am interested in playing, coaching and watching basketball. I facilitated the formation of a women’s basketball team that currently plays in the Zambian women’s league. Before coming to MSU, I worked for a regional sports body called Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA Zone VI) where I was responsible for developing sport education and accreditation systems in 10 countries in Southern Africa.
Why am I interested in soccer? It is undoubtedly the most important and popular sport in my country which is played by males and females of all ages in most parts of the country. In February 2012, there was a big celebration in Zambia because our national soccer team, popularly known as Chipopopolo (Copper-bullets because Zambia is known for her copper production), won the 28th edition of the African Cup of Nations for the first time since its inception in 1957. The celebration was also a moment of reflection, as Zambians remembered the fatal plane crash in 1993 that killed the entire Zambian national team off the coast of Libreville in Gabon.
Despite all this rich history, there is no academic work that has been done on football in Zambia. This is what motivated me to write my master’s thesis on the “Introduction and Development of Competitive Football in Zambia from 1930 to 1969.” My doctoral dissertation builds on my earlier work by looking at the political and social development of soccer in Zambia from 1940 to 1993. I am exploring how the game became popular among the local people, what it mean to them, the role it plays in their daily lives, and how it constitutes and symbolizes social change.
The history of soccer in Zambia shows that the game is as a result of a long, intricate, ongoing cultural interactions of the past and the present. My CHI fellowship is very helpful in developing my digital technological skills that are required for one to maximize this interaction. The skills will also play an important role in shaping my dissertation research work. As increasing number of Zambians are getting exposed to Internet and the use of web tools, the tools I will gain through CHI will assist me in developing the skills necessary to share the available sources and information on soccer in Zambia. I am eagerly looking forward to developing my CHI project and working together with the CHI community.