ZAMBIAN KARATE HISTORY PROFILE: Professor Stephen Chan, OBE, 9th Dan

Accomplishments and Impact in the Transformation of Martial Arts Culture


  • This article is in response to a request by my friend and Martial Arts brother, Raymond Mbazima, Sensei, in June 2016, “Could you do a write-up of Professor Stephen Chan Sensei’s Pioneering Role in Zambia – in particular what he accomplished and his impact in the transformation of martial arts culture?”
  • The article is an honest account of events as best as my memory serves me. I must apologize in advance for any inaccuracies, or misunderstandings that might arise. The names of the various people mentioned in the article are done so with but only respect and the fondest of memories. I’ll be failing if I didn’t acknowledge many of them as having helped mould the kind of man I am today, both inside and outside the dojo. None of them is directly responsible for my madness, though.
  • Regarding the main subject of the article, Stephen Chan, the tone the article has taken is as it emerged from my heart, without fear or favour. That, in line with how my mind has interpreted the execution of his Martial Arts teacher and Godfather role towards me over the years; in four countries, Zambia, UK, Norway, and South Africa.
    I have never felt that Stephen was compelled to work with me, neither have I ever felt that I was unduly expected to feel indebted to him for all that he has done for me. Therefore, I am under no obligation, I have no pressing need to aspire to sanctify, or flatter him. There is nothing egotistical to gain, nor intended to.
    All this I shall summarize in Stephen’s own words in a correspondence pertaining to the article, “I do hope it is a lot more to do with mutual respect and camaraderie. I always pitched in with you on the floor – so we all suffered together.”


    ©Simon Chilembo 2017
    Photo: Cynthia Reynolds

The article here initially covers the years 1981-85, a period of my first ever direct observation of Stephen’s physical presence, and martial arts work in Zambia. It will partially describe my personal experience of training and studying Karate with him as my Sensei at the UNZA Karate Club (UKC) in Lusaka. Little did I ever think then that thirty-five years on, the special student-master relationship would still be going strong; not only with me, but with many others of my generation the world over.

Following Stephen’s footsteps as a diverse collective spread across many parts of the world, the at least five generations of top-flight Karateka my contemporaries and I have produced continue to grow and benefit from his profound knowledge of, and love for the Martial Arts. Above all, perhaps, his broader love for, and service to humanity through his exemplary professional work and career continue to inspire many of us.

Secondly, the years 1986-88 are, in my opinion and personal experience, the period in which the relevance of Stephen’s impact on me would be tested to the limit. It would also test the unity and commonality of purpose in the then Seidokan Zambia core group he had developed at UKC.

Furthermore, this period would, by extension, define whether Stephen’s legacy in Zambian Karate would live on or not. I dare say that the modern Jindokai Zambia/ Zimbabwe family we have today can trace their roots to specifically that period. Had we at UKC failed to keep it together during those two years, the Zambian martial arts scene would have swallowed up Stephen Chan’s legacy for good, I am convinced.

It may be safe to say that Stephen’s work in the wider martial arts fraternity, within and outside the then Zambia Karate Federation (ZKF)’s framework, raised awareness of, and interest in the arts to unprecedented levels in the country. The man was, after all, the nearest living thing to Bruce Lee the people ever saw, came close to, touched, and spoke to.

Stephen made a striking presence on Television Zambia (TVZ)’s Sports Review shows, speaking, as Dennis Liwewe once said, “… fantabulous, beautiful English, indeed!”
The late Dennis Liwewe became a legend already in his own time as a passionate radio and TV sports commentator. If President Kaunda was Zambia’s football number one fan, Dennis Liwewe was in a class of his own as maestro supremo football commentator … (Continued in the book: MACHONA BLOGS – As I See It. Order Simon Chilembo books on Amazon)

Simon Chilembo, 6th Dan
South Africa
Tel.: +27 81318 5271
June 16, 2016





©Simon Chilembo 2017

Thinking about it as a grown up man, I’ve found that in my social interactions at all levels, I am driven by only two concepts: fairness and justness. The thesaurus lists the two as synonymous. Operationally, though, I take the liberty of applying “fairness” in relation to the good-bad duality; and “justness” to that of right-wrong.

I postulate, therefore, that if it is fair, it is good. It is uplifting. It is praiseworthy.
If it is unfair, it is bad. It is devious. It is condemnable.

If it is just, it is right. It is life supporting. It is revered.
If it is unjust, it is wrong. It is destructive. It is punishable.

When it comes to my friends, I have found fairness playing itself out in how they have accepted me in the way that I am. They have also allowed me to open doors into my life for them, equally accepting them for what and how they are. With the very closest of my friends, the mutuality of respect for one another’s strengths and fallibilities keeps me awake at night some times. It fills me with ever so much joy.

I have found justness playing itself out in hard times, especially.

It is the constant awareness of inter-personal fairness that keeps the love for my friends alive. Fairness constantly sensitizes me to elements of respect, tolerance, and moral codes cementing our friendship. These elements then extend to form the core of the interplay of justness as we all face and seek to overcome the intrinsic daily challenges of life, working either individually or collectively … (Continued in the book: MACHONA BLOGS – As I See It. Order Simon Chilembo books on Amazon)

Simon Chilembo
South Africa
Tel.: +27 81318 5271
June 16, 2017



In material terms, wealth is the individual or collective accumulation of assets over time. In the context of this article, assets are items of value against which, in modern economic systems, monetary worth may be attached. These items may include land, structures built upon it, contents thereof and their applications towards management and accumulation of more wealth. They may also include objects perceived to be aesthetically precious, such as gold, diamond, pearls, and works of art of all kinds.


©Simon Chilembo 2017

Other items of value may be ownership of stock in business enterprises, and possession of hard transactional cash both outside and inside the banking system. A summation of all the mentioned gives total wealth of the individual, organization, or nation concerned. When liabilities are subtracted, a net worth is derived. The higher the net worth of an entity, the wealthier they are.

In principle, material wealth ought to facilitate acquisition and provision of life’s basic needs and wants, and much more, for those in possession and management of it. When this happens, a state of opulence has been attained. The wealthy, i.e. possessors of net positive wealth, are defined as such because their wealth gives them almost unlimited possibilities to access and acquire as their needs, wants, and demands dictate. This is manifestation of power. As to the judiciousness of the wealthy’s use of power in society is another discussion outside the scope of this presentation.

Genuine wealth is, by definition, a functionally non-static concept eroded over time. A state of poverty is reached upon when time has, for any reason, eliminated the symbols of, and access to wealth and the benefits thereof accruing for the formerly wealthy.

Wealth is regenerative, self-sustaining, and seeks to perpetuate itself indefinitely, to the extent that natural and social forces permit. Social forces referring here to the mechanisms through which society is organized politically, economically, and culturally. The essence of wealth is growth, that with reference to quantitative and qualitative aspects of existence, for both the individual and society. This denotes progress, leading to overall societal development.

At my age, 57 years old, I have reached a stage in life where, with a mixture of wonder and sadness, I have watched my contemporaries go through the most amazing transformations in life. Some have died; others are dead-people-walking with terminal diseases, or pursuing life-style choices slowly but surely sucking the lives out of them. There are those who have lost, and are losing their loved ones in the same fashion.

Many others have been married and divorced at least once. A few have found more fulfilling lives after divorce. Others have lost their children and everything they had owned, including self-control contra temptations of the world. The latter lead miserable lives of constant searches for ever non-gratifying pleasures of life, also dying slowly inside.

Some of them have, with varying degrees of success, even been on the suicide path more than once before. Watching them go by their tragic lives, every day is like on a tick-tock-tick-tock time bomb rhythm. When the lethal explosion finally comes, I hope it’ll find each one alone in each their valleys of death. I hope further that they will finally find peace on the other side, if the other side does exist at all … (Continued in the book: MACHONA BLOGS – As I See It. Order Simon Chilembo books on Amazon)

Simon Chilembo

South Africa
Tel.: +27 81318 5271
June 15, 2017



It has been one year, one month, three and half weeks since I posted the last blog article. Since then, some of the most predominant happenings in my world are as follows:

  • I have written and published my second and third books
    Machona – Emigrant
    Machona Awakening – Home in Grey Matter
    SCbooks The fourth book manuscript is off to the editor. Working on the final touches of the fifth book. In my head, plot incubation period of the sixth book is over; getting in the works soon.
  • My extended writing sabbatical continues. My creative asylum is burning hot with inspiration.
  • International Big Business ambitions have burnt me once again. But, I have fallen so many times before that I’ve sustained no scars at all this time. My resilience has never been any higher. I have never been happier. Be it known that I am far from finished. If ever.
  • I have made two short visits to Lusaka, Zambia. Met my people. Flesh and bones of my fathers made me ever so happy and proud. Lusaka Karateka gave me a warm welcome; allowed me to rescind my retirement from international Karate practice and teaching with them. Life is good.
  • The distances between a few of my old personal relationships have grown wider. One or two old relationships have taken a dive. Good riddance. Breathing has never been easier. I can see clearly now. My soul is free.
  • Key old relationships just keep growing stronger. I got more than I asked for here. Gratitude, humility are the names of my game.
  • New relationships have only been a blessing. To love and be loved in return is a wonderful thing. Love is the power.
  • The UK took Brexit, leaving modern Western civilization shaken to the core. Shocking. International solidarity thrown into the English backyard … (Continued in the book: MACHONA BLOGS – As I See It. Order Simon Chilembo books on Amazon)

Simon Chilembo
South Africa
Tel.: +27 81318 5271
June 01, 2017



  • From an independent and private position I find it imperative upon, and within incumbent South African President Jacob Zuma’s prerogative to now step down and resign. By that, he will be preserving whatever little honour as a leader and noble citizen of the land he has left. Moreover, he will be saving the country much international diplomacy and business ridicule and embarrassment.

    My imploring JZ to step down and resign is inconsequential of whether I like him or not. Manifestation of any lack of respect for an elder and leader in accordance with “… it’s our African culture!” is of no relevance here either. My stand is based on impersonal well-thought out critical thinking leadership principles and philosophy.

  • Watching how the once most revered African National Congress/ ANC and its loyal structures defend the indefensible in President Zuma’s already long tarnished beyond repair image and reputation as a national leader is a fascinating endeavour.
    It’s like hopelessly watching a woman I dearly love slowly drugging herself to death on a daily basis. With every new temporary abstinence killing shoot, she has gone beyond believing; she deliberately defies logic and reason. She ever irrationally convinces herself in vain that the new shot would be the very last and most decisive to fix and put everything back in place again once and for all. On and on till she drops dead.
    Perhaps with death comes freedom from self-deception … (Continued in the book: MACHONA BLOGS – As I See It. Order Simon Chilembo books on Amazon)

Simon Chilembo

South Africa
April 07, 2016



I am in love with myself, deeply so. I love myself more than I love anybody or any other thing else, much more than I love my women, my Rolexes, and my Mercedeses.


Buy book on Amazon link. All rights reserved. Simon Chilembo, 2016.

My parents, my siblings, my children from other fathers, my brothers and sisters from other mothers, my teachers, and my God do not come into the picture here; for them the love is supreme. It is because of the great love I have for me that I can have the awesome capacity to love I happen to posses.

In my private moments, I thoroughly convince myself that I am the greatest thing called man to ever walk the face of the earth; for all times. I am the best there is anywhere on planet earth. Beyond planet earth I really do not care much about.

Spielberg tried with ET, The Extra Terrific. It didn’t work. What a most unhandsome guy! He still charms the world, though. #SIAFA-Secretly I am a Fan. But I’m still the best. Nevertheless, could I have chosen, I know for sure that I would have come out a totally different man. Perhaps still as overly narcissistic and with the same love I have for my people, as well as my opulent life-style play things, but very different all the same.

Given the hard realities of life as a Black man in a hard world, a Black man born and raised in the hot bed of anti-Black racism Apartheid South Africa, if prior to my conception I could have chosen my parents, they most certainly would have been of White aristocracy class in, say, England. And I would have been born in North London somewhere, say, Chorleywood.

That would have been real cool. I would have chosen to be tall and slender, say, 2m. My body would have been one of those which respond well to physical exercise training, such that I would go strutting around with the neatest and perfectly ribbed sex-pack, above which would be the finest sculptured chest and the most perfect squared broadest shoulders. My hair would be David Bowie blond, of course. Never mind he hailed from South London. London is London. Blond is blond, and we have more fun. That’s just the way it is.

It would have been real nice to have been White by choice and became part of the most powerful people on earth, both for the bad and the good. But then again, I became, I am Black. How it would turn out to be that my parents would be Black and African in Africa I have no idea of; and I really do not care much about that. For I am Black, I am. I did not, I never, not that I could ever, choose to be Black. Black is the nature of me, the nature of my being, with all my bad and good attributes, as well as my strengths. I have no time for weaknesses. I remain the proudest Black man I know. But, to be honest, I could have been spared the Black curse.

I am short, chubby with a pot belly, and black as coal. I have a flat nose, have a roundish face, have short curly black hair, I have small ears, have little body hairs, have a sickeningly inflated ego. I have loads of physical and mental endurance. I have a huge appetite for food and the good life.

I am independent, I am creative, I am emotional, I am my parents’ first child together, and, oh, I am a heterosexual man with profound love for women. These qualities of and about me I do not recall ever choosing, or making a conscious pre-order of, they were pre-packaged in my parents’ sexual reproductive cells.

It’s called genetics work, through which a thing called DNA will be understood to be, and contains the intrinsic truth about me, where I come from, and where I am likely to end up as a consequence of my all-round inherent personal attributes.

I popped out of my mother’s birthing organ predestined to be the kind of man and person I am today. It’s all in my DNA. I can, of course, if and when necessary, with relative ease make and learn to live with cosmetic and behavioural changes to suit, and adapt to changing and changed circumstances, but that can never change the real essence of my being; who I am, and what I am.  Once the reproductive cells fusion is done, the DNA is signed, sealed, and delivered; that’s me in full from cradle to the grave. So is everyone else, really. That’s being human for you … (Continued in the book: MACHONA BLOGS – As I See It. Order Simon Chilembo books on Amazon)


Simon Chilembo

South Africa
March 03, 2016





Buy book on link. All rights reserved. Simon Chilembo, 2016.

At this very moment
In Aleppo City of Syria
Putin’s bombs
Have just rained down
In claimed pursuit of Daesh
Little Sarah’s body
Is shred to pieces
Little Abdullah’s body
Is by waves of fire
Charred to ashes
And goes up
With smoke and bloody dusts of war
Parents wanting
To believe
It’s all hallucinations
Curse Allah
If this is his willing
He’s not so great anymore
May the next bomb
Land on us
Please, please, please
Allahu Akbar
They with soundless voices
Wail in agonized helplessness
With tearless ducts like Madiba’s
Wishing there were
Wi-Fi broadband to Allah

At this very moment
Little Maryam
Little Mustafa
In parents’ arms
Are searching
In vain
For Western freedom and peace
At the bed
Of the Mediterranean Sea
The bombs had missed them
Allah’s willing
Overloaded their escape boat
It capsized
They failed
To breathe under water
More horrified by
The sound of
Tonnes of sea water
Pressing densely into their ears
Than any bombing’s
It’s just as well
There’s no
Wi-Fi broadband to God

Ever cried under water

At this very moment
I cry with grief
‘Cause I’m broke
As in Bankrupt
Valentine’s Day tomorrow
I’ll lose yet another woman I love
‘Cause I don’t have any money
To call her on the phone
Let alone
Buy her a romantic present
I don’t have money
To call my mother
To say, ‘I love you!’
For like to Allah
There’s no
Wi-Fi broadband into my father’s grave
If I had money
I’d call my younger father
To also say, ‘I love you, Dad!’
I’m wearing
Old, faded, tattered clothes
On my body
‘Cause I haven’t had any money
To buy new clothes
The start of
The Syrian war
At that time
Somebody said to me
Tsk, tsk, tsk, ignorant you
Conflict is healthy
Conflict is the essence of human progress
And I said to him
Does Assad really think
He’ll ever crush the opposition
The ill-informed wise man
Told me
I’m a fool
So, it’s okay
I can stay broke
Till there are
No more people
Till there’s nothing left
To genocide for
In Syria
So much
For conflict
For human progress

At this very moment
I cry Europe
Little Farrah
Little Ali
Have defied the bombs
Have defied the seas
Have arrived alive
At your shores
Show them what humanity is all about
Independent of what Allah wills
It can’t be right
To deny them
The sweet taste of
Liberty and peace
It can’t be right
That I stand here
And cry for money
For telephones and new clothes
Little Maryams
Little Mustafas
In parents’ arms
Cry for life
At the bottom
Of the sea

At this very moment
I cry for hope
Fuck the money
Fuck the war

©Simon Chilembo, 13/ 02- 2016


South Africa
Tel.: +27 717 454 115
February 13, 2016