Home Africa Report Lorita – The Making of a Chess Goddess

Lorita – The Making of a Chess Goddess

by khisho

As she stepped up the podium to receive her Silver medal at the 2019 Africa Games in Morocco, with the audience standing up for her in ovation, she simply looked like a Queen. She has the poise, height, intelligence, the beauty, the smile and the heart – this I find to be the most accurate description of the goddess of Zambian chess. Even her life story is written “Queen” all over.

WFM Lorita on the chessboard

One cannot tell the Story of Zambia’s Woman FIDE Master Lorita Mwango without reflecting on the dawn of Zambia’s democracy in the early 90s. There was a whole package of changes in Zambia after the dawn of their democracy, and sports was no exception. Now more ladies were taking up sports that were previously male dominated. Born to parents Moffat and Rodah Gomah Mwango, in the early years of Zambia’s democratic era, Woman FIDE Master Lorita Mwango is one Zambian daughter that has enjoyed the benefits of these changes to the fullest.

Born to parents Moffat and Rodah Gomah Mwango, in the early years of Zambia’s democratic era, Woman FIDE Master Lorita Mwango is one Zambian daughter that has enjoyed the benefits of these changes to the fullest.

“Lorita leave the ball with your friends now! It’s time to go home!”

I can imagine her two brothers and two sisters coming in turns to convince their last born sibling to retire home after an afternoon of playing football with her friends. Smart as she is now, I can imagine her squeaky answer, “Let me take one more shot at the goal!”, each time each one of them came. Unbeknownst to them all was that she would, in the future, be famous all over Zambia and Africa for a different game altogether. Not even a physical one for that matter.

Lorita Mwango has always been a city girl growing up in the sports enthused city of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. Like many other Lusaka girls of the post democracy era, her maiden passion was football, before she switched to chess at the age of 12, when she was taught the mental game by her uncle, Robert Kapena.
However, the goddess (to be) of Zambian chess, played her maiden chess tournament at the age of 15, in 2008, at a humble inter schools event in Mpika, where she showed some signs of particular greatness. But when she became Zambia’s schools champ in 2010, it was undoubted that great things were coming her way.

In Zambia and other African countries, it is an honour to cross the boarders for your sport. Her first international tournament, which was a friendly between Zambia and Botswana in 2011, in the city of Gaborone, gave her the injection to roar loudly in chess. That same year she bagged a Woman Candidate Master title after winning The Africa Youth Chess Championship for her age category.

As she was still celebrating this title, barely months later, in 2012, she earned The Woman Fide Master title at the Istanbul Chess Olympiad after scoring 66% in her games. She went on to win the Africa Youth under 18 category in 2012 and, years after, Zambia Open Chess Championship twice, Zambia closed once, Botswana Open once, the prestigious Airtel Challenge also, and the list is still growing.

Needless to say she has represented Zambia at numerous events, including Olympiads in Turkey, Norway and Azerbaijan. She has also flown the Zambian flag at continental events, including The prestigious Africa Individual, and Zone 4.3 Chess Championships.

To sum up her chess itineraries, so far, chess has taken her to: Malawi, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, Uganda, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, India, Russia, Norway, Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Despite these earth shuttering achievements, Lorita cherishes her consolation win against a Woman Grandmaster while playing on board 1 for Zambia at the 2014 Norway Chess Olympiad. “It was this win that made us lose with a respectable margin of 3-1 to the formidable French team”, she said, sounding like a proud Math teacher boasting that what she taught came in the exam and saved the students from humiliation.

However, she says her worst moment in her seemingly flawless chess career was when she failed to win the Zone 4.3 Chess Championship in Blantyre, Malawi in 2015. “That would have netted me a straight Woman International Master title, and the trophy was within my reach until I lost a crucial last round game”, she said with tears of regret.

But time heals all wound. Woman Fide Master Lorita has now recovered from this tragedy and has cultivated a dangerous aggressive style of chess, and is a very powerful presence on the chess board. A few months ago, she won Silver at the Africa Games, sandwiching an Egyptian (Gold) and an Algerian (Bronze), making her one of the most celebrated athletes in Zambia.

Interesting enough, as she went pushing the pieces in Lusaka and beyond, Lorita did not forget to push school and has a Degree in Mathematics Education from the Copperbelt University. She said she carefully balanced up chess and school. About this rare combination of chess and school she says time management is the key.

“You need to divide your time well to make it at both school and chess”, she said.

Lorita With Her Family

Though she did not mention it, I suspect one of Lorita’s happiest moments must have been when she tied the knot with architect Chilando Musanda in 2017. The two are blessed with an adorable baby boy by the name Dylan.

She was quick to say her husband is very supportive of her chess career, and that is why she continues excelling at the sport even after her getting married. She also gave credit to her family members for their offer to take care of the baby when she was busy with chess activities. Currently based in Lusaka, Lorita is also a Christian and goes to The United Church of Zambia at Saint Andrews.

If you invite her to your house, remember to prepare a dish of nshima with fresh fried bream fish and impwa (garden eggs) because that’s her favorite dish. Lorita, who has the height of a model, says she idolizes famous Hungarian grandmaster Susan Polgar of the Susan Polgar Chess Foundation on the international scene, while on Zambian chess scene she says she admires Woman International Master, Epah Jere. “These ladies inspire me a lot “, she said. Apart from chess, during her leisure time, Lorita likes playing video games and watching movies.

Despite all her achievements, Lorita says her vision is to grow all the more in chess even attaining a Grandmaster title and set up her own chess foundation.

She thanks God for the great journey taken so far.

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Andrew Kayonde November 7, 2019 - 11:23 am

She is indeed the Queen of Zambian Chess and a clear demonstration to female players at how one’s talent can take them far if they work at it.

dannymumba November 8, 2019 - 11:23 am

Lorita, you are such an inspirational person. Keep it up. Keep aiming for the Grandmaster title that you so desire.

Bupe Chibomba August 11, 2020 - 10:20 pm

Zambia really has a Queen in Chess, Her talent and love for the game is Second to none. May she keep rising as Endeavors her pursuit at becoming a GM🇿🇲💪


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