Hikabwa D. Chipande is a historian of 20 th century Zambia focusing on the relationships between popular culture (football), politics and social change. He has a PhD. in African History from Michigan State University in USA and a Masters degree in Sport Science from the Norwegian School of Sport Science in Oslo. He teaches African history and sports at the University of Zambia in Lusaka.
Disrupting social hierarchies: football, the media and fans’ rivalries in the Zambian game 1964 – 1990s
When Zambia gained independence from Britain in 1964, football had already established itself as a popular culture. The media, particularly radio and newspapers played an important role in popularizing the game. Creative live radio football commentaries by Dennis Liwewe and detailed and exciting reporting of matches in print media were central in the popularization of the game. This paper argues that, the popularity of football led to the emergence of supporters’ clubs in the 1970s and rivalries based on the social geography of the teams. While the clubs created an opportunity for the petit bourgeois class that was emerging to enjoy leisure time, they also provided opportunities for the township residents to challenge their subordinate socio-economic position vis-à-vis their privileged neighbors. Fans’ clubs also emerged at national level and played an important role in bringing an alternative voice in football and providing support to the national team.