Features

Mufulira’s Butondo: Stars’ base

MWILA NTAMBI
Mufulira
BUTONDO Township, situated in Mufulira’s Kankoyo Constituency, has a rich history. Its establishment dates back to the beginning of mining in Mufulira district and particularly the sinking of shaft twelve.
According to Owen Sichone, 67, a clergyman and longtime resident of Mufulira, the history of Butondo can be traced back to the premining era when the place was a village occupied by the indigenous Lamba-speaking
people.
“Before mining began between the 1950s and 1960s, the Lamba people used to live here. Their village was situated at the present-day Butondo Primary School and after
mining began, some of them moved to Kitwe while others went to Congo with Chief Saili,” reverend Sichone says.
He said the name Butondo is derived from ‘Kabutondo’, which means a small river.
The small stream is the boundary between Kankoyo and Butondo townships.
It is therefore easy to establish where the early settlers in the area got the name Butondo from.
The beginning of mining in Mufulira came with different developments.
Apart from a surge in population to the district by job seekers from elsewhere, mining expansion also saw the displacement of certain settlers
such as the people who lived in Butondo in the early years.
Rev Sichone says when it was apparent that mining was expanding into Butondo itself through the establishment of shaft twelve, migrants,
mostly from South Africa and Lesotho, were brought in to come and work on sinking the shaft. That was during the time
of Roan Consolidated Mines (RCM).
Rev Sichone recollects that the migrants that were brought to sink the shaft were popularly referred to as ‘ba kabulangeti.’
This is because they went to Butondo during the cold weather and they had a habit of moving around covered in small blankets.
By 1960, houses in section A and B, and Butondo Primary School were built. The school had pupils from standard one up to six.
The first church to be built in the area was Butondo Baptist, followed by the Catholic Church and then the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The Lumpa Church headed by Alice Lenshina was also present in Butondo, but it was destroyed during the Lenshina
uprising.
The present Butondo Police Station sits at the place where Alice Lenshina’s church was once built.
During the early years, the roads were gravel and the population was lean, but after independence in 1964, the township
began expanding.
He recalls that the first contractor in the area, Peter Magayi, started building roads and the Butondo
Management Board was formed.
The sole aim of the board was to ensure a clean and green Butondo.
Rev Sichone looks back with pride as he remembers the Butondo glory days.
He recalls that the township was the cleanest in Mufulira because the board ensured the surroundings were kept clean and
green.
The reverend claims that malaria was unheard of in Butondo because streams were cleaned to ensure clear passage for water.
After independence, Butondo experienced expansion and saw the coming of sections E, F and G, in
addition to the already existing sections such as A and B.
Butondo was a unique place in that during its early years, market traders were men as
most women stayed at home.
Aaron M’kandawire, 60, also has a fair share of history for Butondo, having lived in the area for 36 years.
He recalls that Butondo was a good township in the past
because not only did it haveadequate social amenities to keep children busy, it also had an endless supply of clean water to promote the clean and
green agenda.
He recalls how beautiful the township appeared with green lawns and flowers surrounding most yards.
But for Mr M’kandawire, the most important aspect about Butondo was its ability to produce sports stars.
He says stars such as the Chipolopolo 2012 Afcon winning skipper Christopher Katongo and his brother Felix
are both products of Butondo and that their parents still live in the township.
Former Chipolopolo winger Johnstone Bwalya, also known as ‘One Man Commando’, has his roots in Butondo and Green Buffaloes players such as
Oswald Kalamba and Ommy Kaoma among others also hail from the same township.
Mr M’kandawire, who was
once a first aider for Butondo
Western Tigers, a team Katongo played for before he Mufulira Wanderers and finally Green Buffaloes, recallshow important sport was for youths in Butondo back in the days.
He said Butondo Western Tigers was an important nursery for Mufulira Wanderers Football Club in that a lot of players that joined ‘Mighty’ were picked from
Butondo.
He recalls that youths used to get motivation and mentorship from football stars such as the late prolific
Zambia national soccer team goalkeeper Efford Chabala, who died in the Gabon air disaster.
Mr M’kandawire recalls how Chabala used to spare some of his time to watch Butondo Western Tigers’ matches and how his presence would motivate the young players to work hard.
But over the years, things have changed for the worse.
He says Butondo Tigers’ performance has gone down and this probably explains why Mufulira Wanderers has also been struggling.
He said after the demise of the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM), many sports clubs in the area collapsed and the infrastructure has deteriorated almost to a level beyond redemption.
The stadium that Butondo Tigers used has been neglected, while the change room is rundown.
What used to be a table tennis building has been turned into a church, with no traces of sports history left.
The public swimming pool which was operated by the mines under ZCCM is history as there is nothing going on there.
Consequently, vices among youths, especially alcohol abuse, are rampant in the area.
Mr M’kandawire says although the older generation loves gardening as almost every household has a backyard garden, selling the produce is not easy as people in the area are jobless and do not have income.
There is also no art or cultural activities to keep youths busy.
Another resident, Davies Katongo, bemoans the high levels of crime in Butondo Township.
Mr Katongo’s wife was murdered and her body dumped in a maize field early this year.
He says the proximity to the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo disadvantages the township and that the area is sometimes used as a conduit for smuggling activities.
And Bonny Kanchele, also a resident, wants civic leaders in the area to pay more attention to recreation amenities to deter youths from social vices.
He says youths of yesteryear were able to play games such as netball, basketball, volleyball and football because of the favourable
infrastructure, which is run down.
Now the youth expend their excess energy on alcohol consumption.
Mr Kanchele laments that because drinking activities start early in the day, a wrong message has been sent to the younger generation that only alcohol matters.
He said it is not too late to change the narrative of Butondo by renovating sports facilities and encouraging youths to be productive as opposed to the status quo
where they abuse alcohol and drugs.
The population in Butondo has steadily grown over the years from a township with few people in its early years to housing about 15,000 residents
at present.
The residents also acknowledge the recent development in the area such as the renovation of township roads, the upgrading of the government clinic into a mini hospital and the expansion of
the area through allocation of plots among others.
It may be just another township for some, but those that have lived in Butondo long enough are proud of its contribution to building glory for Zambia, especially in the sports fraternity.



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