Bwalya is the face of anti-xenophobia drive

ZAMBIAN soccer legend and South African 2010 Fifa World Cup ambassador Kalusha Bwalya will be honoured at a gala dinner in Polokwane, Limpopo, todayfor the role he has played in the sporting fraternity.

"King Kalu", as Bwalya is affectionately known, will also be unveiled as the face of an anti-xenophobia campaign in the Southern African region more than a year after sporadic attacks on foreign nationals in Mzansi.

Bwalya's honour was organised by the Manna Tabernacle Church with the help of the Limpopo government, which invited delegates from from the Southern African Development Community to attend the event. Speaking to Sowetan this week, Bwalya said the honour brings tears to his eyes.

"Xenophobia has to be stopped. We are all Africans, everywhere in Africa should be our home regardless of where you originate from," he said.

Regarding the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa next year, for the first time on African soil, the former Zambian national captain said: "Africa has come a long way to host its first World Cup. Our drums and vuvuzelas are ready to welcome the world. South Africa has paved the way for other African countries to host the World Cup.

"And before we welcome people from across the world onto our shores, we must get rid of the ugly face of xenophobia and embrace one another as brothers and sisters."

Pastor Strike Manganyi from Bold Moves Foundation said Bwalya was chosen for his leadership skills and because he managed to unite the people of Zambia after the 1993 plane disaster that killed 18 members of its national team.

"We needed someone who is not a South African to be the face of anti-xenophobia," Manganyi said.

"Someone who is a good role model and made a meaningful contribution to the continent. Bwalya was our best choice.

"Beside being a soccer legend, he has shown soccer good leadership quality. We have invited a number of other soccer legends from the SADC region to come and join us." Manganyi said Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale was expected to be a guest speaker at the event.

"The Limpopo government was responsible for sending the invitation to the SADC region," he said.