Tale Of a Football Star; From Midfield Genius to a Street Adult

Kidwell Nene
IF YOU are an ardent soccer fan, you would remember Kidwell Nene, whose midfield prowess has left an indelible mark in football circles.
After years of earning his bread and butter from kicking the ball, he is now among hordes of people earning a living from the streets of Ndola.
Kidwell Nene at Masina Hospital in South Africa after breaking his armf
Nene was emptied onto the streets after his comeback to football in Ndola, where he made a name, faced resistance even from the clubs he played prior to going to Lusaka and South African clubs.
Nene lives in Lubuto township in a rented house but he has two plots in Kopalande township and Kantolomba Hills which he is developing.
Despite being a “street adult”, he has not given up on returning to football as a coach.
Tenant Chembo
Recently, his long-time friend Tenant Chembo sponsored him to attend a CAF D licence and has been interacting with some senior coaches within and beyond Ndola.
The first born in a family of six – three boys and three girls – Nene was born in Ndola on August 21, 1968.
His father Hopeday Nene was an auditor with the Zambia Consumer Buying Corporation, while his mother, Fridah, was a secretary in the Ministry of Health.
He went to Northrise Primary School and Masala Secondary School in Ndola.
Football career
One of the best central midfielders of his time, Nene was spotted by Ndola United in the late 1980s.
He was scouted by Sunday Sichilima, one of the Ndola United legends while playing soccer at Kaele Primary School.
Ndola enrolled Nene at Masala Secondary School where most of the Ndola players went. In fact, Masala was synonymous with Ndola United.
During the brief period he played for Ndola, Nene played in the B team alongside Chembo and Ben Mwansa, among others.
At the time of being signed by Ndola, the club was pregnant with midfield talent and loaned him to Forest Rangers.
United, who are now flirting with relegation even in Division One, had star-studded players such as Harrison Bwalya, Chris Chiwala, Sichilima, Happy Loti, Best Banda and Thomas Mwale, among others.
Nene, who came to be known as ‘Kido Wizo’ struck the right cords with Forest and its supporters due to his form.
Vitafoam United, owned by tycoon Abraham Mokola, began to make manoeuvres to sign the highly-skilled Nene, who exuded power and balance.
At the time Vitafoam were making the approach, Nene’s father, Hopeday, was very sick and eventually died.
Forest picked all the funeral costs and Nene felt a sense of betrayal to leave the club that had given his father a dignified funeral.
After burying my father, Vitafoam continued coming for me. I refused, I had just buried my father and Forest did a lot for us during the funeral,” Nene said.
“Knowing that Chembo (a Vitafoam player then) was my best friend, they sent Tenant [Chembo] to go and speak to my mother (Fridah Nene) who said katwishi umwine (It is up to him)” Nene said.
That is how Nene moved to Vitafoam, where he found the likes of Ronald Mkandawire (who later coached Orlando Pirates and won them the 1995 African Champions League), Emmanuel Silungwe and Roy Ntambo.
George Chimalilo was the manager.
I was recruited to play as a left winger. In the process, Vitafoam got Numba Mwila,” Nene said.
Following nimble-footed Mwila’s arrival, Nene was shunted in central midfield, operating the middle of the park with Chembo.
Nene and Chembo formed one of the most creative midfield partnerships and were two years in a row voted the best midfield combination in the Super Division.
This is when Zanaco came. In fact, Green Buffaloes (coached by Obby Kapita) wanted me but Zanaco (who had Happy Kapita as team manager) intercepted. Zanaco sent Ben Mwansa (as an emissary to convince Nene),” he said.
Nene joined Zanaco at the same time as Hector Chilombo.
At the time of going to Sunset Stadium, there was Peter Chilinda, Chris ‘Super’ Sichone, Desmond Mgawa, Godfrey Muyanga and Chris ‘Gazza’ Tembo who was the captain.
But Nene discovered that Zanaco did not have plans for him after all as the club hardly used him.
So when Jones Chilengi joined Zamsure Football Club from Ndola United, moved along and was loaned to the Zambia State Insurance Corporation-sponsored side.
While at Zamsure, he got a call-up to the under-20 national team which had Tenant Chilumba, Happy Sichikolo, Kenani Simambe, Zifa Nkhoma and Numba Mwila.
When Numba and Nene were dropped during the team’s camp in Chingola, other players prostested to Coach Dick Chama and Samuel ‘Zoom’ Ndhlovu.
“Muleya kwisa, nomba abakateya nibesa,” Sichikolo is said to have told Mwila and Nene, meaning where are you going, so who is going to play?
Sichikolo offered to speak to the two coaches but the two players left.
So, when we reached Kitwe, we met ba Moses Simwala (the revered Nkana Red Devils coach) who asked us what we were doing in Kitwe. We told him we had been dropped. He asked Numba “abaketya nibanani (who will play)?
After two years at Zamsure, Nene joined the bandwagon of Zambian players trekking to South Africa.
Rodgers Lupiya (former Ndola United and Vitafoam United striker who was playing for Qwa Qwa Stars) was told to look for one player. He came to me,” Nene said.
Instead, Nene joined Dynamos in 1993.
Shortly after joining, his compatriots at Dynamos Samuel Chomba, Wisdom Chansa and Robert Waityakeni died in the Gabon air disaster, which decimated the cream of Zambian players who were on their way to Senegal for a World Cup qualifier.
Nene said the owner of Dynamos was devastated after losing the Zambian contingent and gave up sponsoring the team.
This meant that Nene, who was in South Africa for less than a season, had to trek back to Zambia to start life afresh.
I tried to play football at Strike Rovers (during Emmanuel Zulu’s era) and Ndola United but faced issues of acceptance,” Nene said, saying some people he had played with thought he was too old to play with the generation of the 1990s.
Nene is happily married to Daisy Chimfwembe with whom he has two children Sipho who recently finished her grade 12 and Jabulani who is in his eighth grade.
Kidwell Nene with his son Jabulani
His first child is Kaluba who is with the Office of the President in Namwala.

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