Cheela H. K. Chilala

Cheela H K Chilala

Cheela H K Chilala holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree from the University of Zambia (UNZA), Master of Arts in Literature (UNZA), and PhD in Literature (UNZA). He teaches literature and drama at UNZA and is also a published writer, poet and has written a number of nationally acclaimed plays. He has won a number of literary awards including Best Zambian Poet in 2000 (Ngoma Award). He is also a consultant in the arts and culture. Chilala has published a number of works of an academic nature and his areas of interest include: literature, drama, theatre, onomastics, literary stylistics, literary theory and criticism, and disability studies.


Battling with the cat: The Role of Nicknames in Zambian Football and Boxing

Chinua Achebe’s seminal novel, Things Fall Apart, opens with a reference to a wrestling bout between the novel’s protagonist, Okonkwo, and Amalinze the Cat. He was nicknamed the Cat because his back would never touch the earth. It is apparent that Amalinze drew motivation and strength from being called the Cat, and by the same token it might be argued that the nickname in itself intimidated his opponents. Amalinze must have striven to live up to the reputation of a cat – by ensuring his back did not touch the ground. This paper is therefore concerned with exploring the role of names, particularly nicknames, in Zambian football and boxing. Do nicknames contribute to good performance? Nicknames may be self-given or given my one’s fans, or even disparagers. In Zambian boxing nicknames have been given and used. Fanwell Mwanza nicknamed himself “King Blowtop” but the press dubbed him “The King without a Throne” because he actually never won a single boxing fight as a professional boxer. Charm Chiteule was nicknamed “Shuffle” because of his boxing style. Football has seen more nicknames than boxing. Both teams and team members have given themselves or been given nicknames. The Zambian national soccer team is called “Chipolopolo”. Some of Zambia’s clubs include “Mighty” Mufulira Wanderers, Nkana FC (“Kalampa” from the term “The Clampers”); and “Sensational” Zanaco FC. Individual footballers have also borne nicknames over the years, including: Kalusha Bwalya (“Great Kalu”), Godfrey Chitalu (“Ucar”), and Bernard Chanda (“Bomber”). This study will apply the theories of onomastics and psychoanalysis to interrogate the role of names and nicknames in Zambian football and boxing.

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