The decision to name the Lusaka stadium as the Gabon Disaster Heroes National Stadium, is not only a mouthful but a distasteful one at that.
While appreciating the sentiment involved the name itself does not convey the gravitas or indeed importance of the loss that Zambia suffered in the disaster. It instead conjures negative and indeed pejorative vision of a poorly designed and equally poorly constructed structure. And yet for all accounts the design is exquisite and befitting of a name that will inspire and propel our teams to higher heights. Little wonder therefore that sports administrators, clubs and many of those that have spoken have opposed the name.
Zambia is not short of names. Indeed it is not short of personalities and events against which this major edifice could be named.
Obviously there is a political inclination to avoid some names and individuals, but undoubtedly posterity will take care of this obvious anomaly.
Apart from the image, the naming of Gabon in the same breath as disaster will undoubtedly have its own negative connotation which may have diplomatic implications.
The name suggests that Gabon is culpable in whatever was the cause of the aircraft accident and yet a final report has yet to be produced and in the event that the country is exonerated, the name will be a major disservice for a country that offered its airspace and ground facilities to the Zambian players.
There is no question that the Gabonese people were as equally aggrieved as the Zambians were at the loss of the national team and little wonder that they supported our team as it went into battle in the last Africa cup where Zambia secured the trophy.
To call a stadium a disaster is an assault on the mind as it represents everything negative. Cabinet could have done better.
However, more importantly soccer administrators are concerned that they were not consulted when considering the various options as a number of names had been proposed and floated within the soccer fraternity.
One such name was to simply call the stadium, “National Stadium” or simply “30 Heroes Stadium”, even the FAZ chairman Kalusha Bwalya has though aloud suggesting that Heroes Stadium would be appropriate..
We hope it is not too late for the government to take heed of these sentiments and revisit the subject otherwise the adage that, there is everything to a name will become a reality.
If anything the debate over the stadium should be taken as an overall discontent in the manner with which national symbols have been named in the past without reference to parliament or other such institutions.
Elsewhere in the world naming of national institutions is a serious matter which is subjected to serious debate and only such institution as parliament have the final say on such matters.