About Madalitso Muthiya

[mad-uh-LEE-tso], Ngoni language: 1. blessings;  2. one who is blessed

From the very beginning, golf just made sense to Madalitso. Instinctively he knew it was something he could do. Really well. The club felt like a natural extension of his body. He had no doubt that when he swung, the ball would fly. Far.

At age 6 he confirmed his instincts by stealing his father’s clubs and launching a life-changing shot through a kitchen window from hundreds of yards away. His father, Peter, couldn’t explain his son’s talent. But if his natural swing would become more than a fun attention-getter on the driving range, he had to learn fundamentals, club selection, situational awareness, and much more. And he would have to do it in a country with no professional golf coaches. Zero.

Photo by Tyrone Winfield @tyrone_winfield_photography

“Muthiya can serve as an inspiration to black children who might want to pursue the game in Africa. He came from a poor country with little formal development in the sport. Now he is playing against some of the best in the world.”


Peter took on the challenge, piecing together a set of clubs when he had the money. Madalitso immersed himself, absorbing every detail. The golf course became his most natural place. A gourmet kitchen with endless ingredients that allowed him to discover his talents, create for his own enjoyment, and satisfy the appetite of Zambians hungering for inspiration, pride, and a national hero.

Junior tournaments in Zambia quickly affirmed what Peter discovered in his backyard. Madalitso was special. Victories on neglected colonialist-built golf courses were more than opportunities to grow his impressive resume. Each championship won and course record smashed debunked ancient theories upon which these courses were constructed, and they served as stepping stones to a dream. To college. To making history.

Competitions also exposed a cold underside to golf. As success took him across Zambia and beyond, Madalitso realized where he fit in. Simply put, he didn’t. Competitive golf was an exclusive club, and money was the ticket in. Often the only black player at an event, and the only golfer having never received a lesson from a coach, the uncomfortable stares at his second-hand clubs, worn shoes – and his black face – were blunt indicators that he was an oddity. Stark reminders of his family’s painful struggle and the cloud of racism that still lingered.

Dominant victories and media acclaim brought added stress in the form of public expectations. Bitter disappointments were openings for menacing voices of doubt, past and present. At times his “blessing” felt more like a curse. Was his ability a gift from God, or a sick joke by demons who enjoyed watching a child fight for a prize just out of reach?

Peter knew that teaching golf was only half the battle. The world of golf would present more challenges than a downhill putt or a 50-yard pitch. His most valuable advice to his son would be a strategy that often guided the family through racism, oppression, and crippling poverty.

It was a beacon for Madalitso as he pursued something that no golfer like him had ever achieved.

About Peter

Peter knew why his parents gave him a European name. Sandikonda and Kaliwé were proud of their rich Ngoni heritage, but they loved their baby boy even more. They wanted him to be accepted by their white rulers, people who inflicted so much abuse on them. Anything to spare him from their suffering.

But as a young child, Peter never questioned his name or why his family lived in a mud hut next to a lead mine that billowed toxic emissions. The only feature of their town— “Broken Hill”— that ignited his imagination was a large piece of land where white men and women used sticks to hit little balls into holes in the ground.

Of course, he wasn’t allowed there unless he wanted to carry clubs, serve drinks, or take out the trash. But that didn’t stop him from scrounging for lost balls and grinding sticks into clubs for his own makeshift course.

Peter marched for freedom and grew in the process, his passion for golf now sharing a place in his heart with anger and determination. He seethed in learning the painful history of how colonialists robbed his parents of their land and culture. Driven to defy the racist theories that justified white rule, Peter used a strong inherited work ethic and off-the-charts intelligence to earn an education his parents could never imagine, and the whites would never have allowed.

But as colonialism withered away, independence brought new threats and betrayal he never expected. The same people who fought for equal rights, self-determination and democracy were now at fault for keeping Zambia impoverished. Mismanagement and graft prevented Zambia from climbing out of the abyss of poverty by shackling young and talented entrepreneurs, including Peter Muthiya.

Golf was always his love. His refuge. It gave him joy, solace, and a temporary distraction from trying to support a family in one of the poorest nations on earth. It held a sacred place in his life, one that he often kept to himself along with his regrets. His clubs were a private team of healers—doctors, therapists, and friends—that enabled him to return home rejuvenated after 18 holes. Until the fateful day when he and his wife, Edith, welcomed their second son into the world. It was a day that Peter believed God had truly “blessed” him.

He had no idea how right he was.