FOR Yotham Sakala, the death of his first wife was a double tragedy from which he has failed to recover.
After losing Lillian Gondwe, his wife of 15 years, the former Ndola United star defender says he underwent a traumatising experience at the hands of his in-laws who demanded that he sells a house he owned in Kabushi.
“Her [Lillian Gondwe’s] family thought she was the one who bought the house because she was working in a saloon,” Sakala said of the house he sold for K12 million.
At the time of the sale, Sakala, one of the most skillful defenders of his time, was playing for Railway Express, the Ndola-based club which was sponsored by Zambia Railways.
Shortly after disposing of his house to appease his former wife’s relatives, Express were disbanded as ZRL streamlined its business plan.
“After her death, there was total confusion so I decided to sell the house. And I gave them the money. I did not expect such a move,” Sakala said of his in-laws’ action.
One of the finest central defenders in the beautiful game, Sakala says his life has never been the same following the harassment he suffered.
“It has really affected me, my life has not been stable,” Sakala, who lives in a one-bedroom house in Ndola’s Kabushi township said.
For now Sakala is technically being looked after by his second wife, Priscilla, who runs a hair salon. She also sells doves.
“Currently, we are just two (at home) my son (James) is working in South Africa and second born daughter Tasila (who is in grade seven),” he says.
Sakala also supports his mother, Mary and two sisters Violet and Bertha.
Sakala, was the first born in a family of five – two males and three females.
The player they fondly called ‘Success’ during his playing career, was
born on March 25, 1969 at Ndola Central Hospital.
He did his education at Kabushi ‘A’ Primary School and later went to Masala Secondary School with the likes of Robby ‘Mfede’ Simukonde.
Sakala started playing soccer under the tutelage of Chris Mtonga, one of the best and longest-serving coaches to have drilled Ndola United.
At the time of joining United, former international defender Mustapha Kalizamani was the assistant coach.
Young Sakala played with United greats such as Sunday Sichilima, Ventor Chikolwa, the late Simon Nkuwa, Rogers Lupiya and Charles Chanda popularly known as Kabamba kuku insoka yalubuli from whom he drew great inspiration.
Sakala a very calm, cool and skillful hard but not rough defender played at United for eight seasons.
Following the perishing of the national soccer team in Libreville, Gabon, in 1993, Sakala was invited to join the reconstituted Chipolopolo.
“Unfortunately, I was dropped together with Martin Mwamba to pave way for Kalusha Bwalya and Charles Musonda who were to join the national team in Dakar (Senegal),” Sakala said.
He played just one practice match for Zambia against Kabwe Warriors before the team left for Mauritius for an African Nations Cup qualifier. Zambia beat Warriors 2-1.
The game helped Warriors see Sakala closely and they recruited the talented defender who also doubled as a holding midfielder.
Sakala was so composed that he could even dribble strikers in the six yard box with relative ease.
He was a kind of player that any coach in Zambia then and even today would pen his name first on the team sheet just to make sure that he is not omitted in the team.
He was a very hard on the ball and good both on the ground and air and control the ball with his chest so well that you would think he is in the opposition box but in his own team’s box area.
The player, who was also a very good penalty-taker would come out of a game clean like a player who spent the whole of 90 minutes warming the bench, was later loaned to Rail Express to reinforce the team.
At Express, he linked up with Felix Sunzu senior, Musole Sakulanda, Danny Chulampongo.
Unofortunately, Express were disbanded in mid-1990s.
Later, he rejoined United and stopped playing in 2010.
Sakala, who is now a businessman, is married to Priscilla Chibwe with whom he has two children.
Sakala says he is looking for money to attend coaching courses.