The Senegalese and Malian communities in the Zambian copper belt city of Kitwe are apprehensive ahead of Saturday’s 2012 Africa Nations Cup Group B game between Zambia and Senegal.
In 2005, Zambian football fans rioted and damaged a Mosque and private property belonging to West African’s in Bulangililo Township in Kitwe after Chipolopolo lost 1-0 at home to Senegal in a 2006 World/Africa Cup qualifier played up the road in Chililabombwe at Konkola Stadium.
The West African community of mainly Muslims from Mali and Senegal in the township fear a second revenge attack should Senegal beat Zambia in their opening Africa Cup game on January 21 in Bata.
“We don’t know what will happen if Senegal beat Zambia next week,” Mamadou Sidibe told the Sunday edition of Zambia’s biggest independent daily The Post Newspaper.
“Sometimes you even start praying that your team loses or at least draw against Zambia just to safeguard our property and our lives here in Zambia.”
Last September, Kitwe’s emigrant community of predominately West Africans again witnessed as that same Mosque in Bulangililo was extensively damaged in a riot.
This time it was over allegations that a wealthy West African Kitwe-based businessman was bankrolling the former ruling party headed by ex-President Rupiah Banda, who subsequently lost to Michael Sata in the September 20 polls.
Meanwhile, Kitwe Mayor Chileshe Bweupe said at a ceremony to mark the refurbishment of the Mosque last week that the West African community’s security will be guaranteed, win or lose, this weekend.
“Zambia are good people and let me also take this opportunity to appeal to Zambians to resist from demolishing this Mosque whenever there is a perceived difference because both Muslims and Christians are God’s creation,” Bweupe said.
Kitwe’s huge Malian and Senegalese community came to the city in the late 70’s during a gold-rush for Emeralds discovered in the copper-rich area.
The city is also the hot bed of Zambian football with two of the nation’s most supported teams Nkana and Power Dynamos based there and also lays claim to the country’s biggest local derby.