19th November 2017

King Kama: How a True Genius Made Brookfields Stadium Lean Sideways

By Abu Shaw (25/06/17)

Kama Dumbuya, unquestionably one of the greatest football geniuses Africa has ever seen, made the Brookfields Stadium to lean.

 

Former Sierra Leone international Kama Dumbuya passed away on June 16 after a short illness at the age of 79 and was buried on Friday June 23, 2017 at the Kissy Road Cemetery in the East End of Freetown.

King Kama, as he was popularly known, played for the East End Lions Football Club and Mighty Blackpool FC and also for many years represented Sierra Leone’s national team the Leone Stars in the 1960s and 70s. 

Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh was among hundreds of mourners at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown where VP Foh invited the former Leone Stars captain Umaru Deen Sesay to present a replica of King Kama’s favourite No 9 jersey to his bereaved family.

After his retirement in 1979/80, Kama Dumbuya was very active technically supporting many football teams in the country. He was the Vice Chairman of FC Kallon. He also dedicated his priceless advice to East End Lions, Mighty Blackpool, Kenema Kamboi Eagles and the Leone Stars. 

Kama Dumbuya was very humbled when the Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone became the first organisation to recognise his invaluable football contributions by awarding him a recognition certificate in 2001. King Kama Dumbuya also received his lifetime achievement award from the Sierra Leone Football in 2015. Kama was a member of the ruling All People’s Congress APC party.

FIRST TIME I WATCHED KAMA DUMBUYA PLAY IN KENEMA

I was a ten year old football fan when my late elder brother Alpha Shaw took me to the Kenema Town Field to watch our Kamboi Eagles FC play East End Lions in a league competition. The Killers, as East End Lions are known, were led by Kama Dumbuya. The match ended 1-2 with Kama Dumbuya scoring the winner in the dying minute with his chest. The clever way Kama Dumbuya chested that ball in to the net from a corner kick still stuck in my mind up to this day.   

Soccer historian Kabs Kanu writes: Genius King Kama Dumbuya was the man who made a whole pavilion to “lean” at Brookfields Stadium in Freetown.

Only last month while in Freetown on a private visit, former soccer administrator, Mr. Chrispi Webber hung out with King Kama Dumbuya and posted the photo on Facebook, little did he know that he was hobnobbing with the king for the last time. If Kama Dumbuya had been young in this age when European and American soccer thrive on the back of excellent contribution from African players, there is no reason why he would not have become a milionaire because leading clubs abroad would have splashed the cash to utilise his goal-scoring knack. 

He was a goal merchant, whose ability to mesmerise defences and score was phenomenal. He scored against most of the African teams that played against Sierra leone. He had many nicknames because of his scoring prowess. He was called ‘King Kama’, ‘Kama the Hunter’ and ‘Kama, the Hammer’.

The story of Kama Dumbuya cannot be written in one article. Shortly after news broke about his death, the publisher and editor of Cocorioko, Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu wrote a series of short articles eulogising the man and also recalling some of his soccer exploits.

West Africans feared King Kama Dumbuya. Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal and the Gambia said in the 1970s that if they had le grande Kargbo in goal, Kama Dumbuya, Christian Cole, Bai Kabia, Manneh Peters and Kawuta Dumbuya (stopper back) and young Ismael Dyfan etc., they would have won the Africa Nations Cup each time. That was how much we had assets we could not utilise well....

Kama used to cause the downfall of West African nations at the Old Kingdom Association Grounds and the then Recreation Grounds, Brookfields. He scored memorable goals against all of them.

He played for East End Lions, Mighty Blackpool, Barma FC (not to be confused with Bame FC) and the national team, Leone Stars. King Kama, the man who made a whole pavilion to ‘lean’ at Brookfields if you listened to excited Sierra Leoneans who watched the Leone Stars beat Liberia’s Lone Star 2-0 in Freetown in 1971, you would have heard. “Borbor, Kama make the pavilion ling tiday.”

He was one of the legends of Sierra Leone soccer, like the story of Balogun Thunder and Goaler Queen. They said that when Kama trapped the ball with his feet, started beating the Liberians one by one, dribbling in on the goal on the FSSG end of the stadium, the pavilion on the Congo Cross Bridge end leaned to the left with thrilled spectators. 

Some people said they actually saw the pavilion leaning. But it was all legend. The physical structure did not lean. But the ‘kolay man dem’ actually leaned to the left and if you were at the Ascension Town Cemetery End Pavilion, it looked to you in your mind’s eyes like the pavilion actually leaned. That was how King Kama captivated the crowd.

I watched the match but I was in the Grand Pavilion, which was next to the pavilion that reportedly leaned and given the trajectory of my line of vision I could not have seen it happen.

Some people however said it was not a one day event. They said whenever Kama played 7 and dribbled from that wing, the pavilion would appear to lean when the crowd surged forward. I did not see the stadium lean but one thing I saw that day was remarkable goals by King Kama that I will never forget.

Kama scored the first goal while sitting on the ground, having lost his balance during a goal mouth scramble. The crowd was yelling for a goal. They wanted us to beat Liberia because the Lone Star had defeated us 3-1 in the first leg in Monrovia and our players complained that angry Liberian spectators had manhandled them. Everybody wanted victory so when Kama lost his balance after being put through, the crowd yelled, thinking it was a missed chance.

But in the scramble that followed, with desperate Liberian defenders fighting to clear the ball, Kama, sitting on the ground, swivelled and skilfully hooked the ball past Christopher Nippay, the goalkeeper. The whole stadium erupted. He scored another cheeky goal to make it 2-0.

Kama was not only good with his feet. His chest was part of his arsenal. He had that uncanny ability to use his chest to trap or pass the ball. And when Kama had trapped that ball with his chest and switched the ball to his feet, what followed next was trouble. 

He was typical Rudd van Nistelrooy or Zlatan Ibrahimovic once he got into that goalmouth. Famous African goalkeepers like Karamokoh Janneh of Senegal, Christopher Nippay of Liberia, Camara Morlaye of Guinea, Rigogo of Nigeria, Robert Mensah of Ghana used to always shake his hands after Kama scored against them.

This is another account about King Kama. Best friend Alieu Iscandri writes: The best centre forward and football goal merchant of his time. I watched him play at Parade Grounds in the late 1960s as a child. He was a phenomenal ball handler. I watched him play for the national team back in the days when we took pride in the talents of the LEONE STARS.

Here is another legendary account: I saw King Kama as a young boy and according to my father's generation he is the greatest forward in Sierra Leone history. My favourite memory of King Kama was when Okala started keeping for Nigeria and King Kama was just retired from the national team. We had played Nigeria on a home and away series and for the first time we were unable to score a goal against Nigeria. 

Another series was coming up against Nigeria, King Kama had been forced to retire from the national team because he was said to be too old and the new forwards were claiming that Okala was too good to be scored upon. In a radio interview King Kama belittled the new forwards as just little kids with snots in their noses and that he would score against Okala if given the opportunity as he had scored against every African team he has ever played against. This interview created major interests as those who believed in King Kama believed he could do it and those who did not believe said he was too old.

Cut a long story short, King Kama was a sub in the first game in Freetown and all the debate leading up to the game was that King Kama would score against Okala if given the chance. The game was 0-0 early in the second half when King Kama came in. 

The moment he got up to warm up a roar was heard in the stadium, King Kama went into the game and the first ball passed to him was chest high and he beats Chukwu by chesting the ball around him and connected with the ball as it bounced off the ground GOAL!!!.

King Kama had done it with his first touch. Hundreds of his supporters invaded the pitch and carried him on their shoulders off the stadium dancing, as far as they were concerned the game was over. King Kama had scored. 

The bewildered Nigerians who did not understand the whole saga stood bewildered thinking it's only one goal guys, as the game stopped for more than five minutes. That was football at its sweetest for me in my youth.

THE GENIUS OF KAMA DUMBUYA JOKES!!

There were stories or jokes narrated about the genius Kama Dumbuya who was not really educated enough to understand certain English expressions. As follows:

After one of his brilliant performances, the organisers wanted to praise Kama Dumbuya for job well done. They said: “Three Cheers for King Kama.” Smiling King Kama, failing to understand the difference between ‘cheers and chairs’ turned to his friend and said: “Do ya take one chair for me. Aah go take the other two.” Everyone bursts out laughing. 

In Nigeria in the second leg, people came to look at Sierra Leone's King Kama Dumbuya. He heard people saying: "This Kama is fantastic."

He was drinking Coco Cola at the moment and he then wondered and said: "I am drinking Coco Cola so I am cocolastic."

While playing a football match one day, it is said a match commentator commented that King Kama was UNFORTUNATE when he missed a goal.  But King Kama misunderstood him and said: “Look the foolish man ah kick 32 e say ah kick 48. These real jokes make up the true football genius of Kama Dumbuya. The organiser.net wishes big bro King Kama eternal and perpetual peace.

TRIBUTE: ALPHA SHAW


1958 -1980

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