Unlike in the modern game where they are nowadays respectfully classified as kit managers, back in the day, kit-men were looked down upon and those who dared have the guts to assume the duty of kit-man, were the laughing stock of many.
It was an assignment reserved for those in short supply of basics of the beautiful game. One such bloke was lanky African Stars diehard fan Jerry Ngaujake, famously known as Tjikepurusa.
The ever-present Ngaujake, was the unofficial Poster Boy of ‘Starlile’ and barely missed a single assignment of Stars, be it the daily training sessions or match day presence.
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sport feature, Tales of the Legends, profiling our sports heroes and heroines, present and posthumously, New Era Sport brings to you our esteemed reader, the untold tales of two of the most recognisable sport personalities from Windhoek’s old location, Jerry Tjikepurusa Ngaujake, and hard-punching amateur heavyweight boxer Benestus Katuiisa Rukero
Born in 1952 at Windhoek’s old location, Katutura glamour football club African Stars, affectionately known as ‘Starlile’ amongst its ardent followers, have gone through several generations over the years since its inception which has seen talented players come and go.
Those players include lethal strikers, agile shot stoppers, tough tackling defenders, overlapping fullbacks, great dribblers, and phenomenal sharpshooters, but none had endured so much emotional and physical pain than the Stars trusted kit man Jerry Ngaujake.
Ngaujake and African Stars were inseparable like a fish in water, and whilst many constantly mocked and poked fun at the self-styled lanky kit man, he stood firm and weathered the storm against all odds.
Admittedly, the gangling kit man did not enjoy the luxury of being provided with state-of-the-art kitbags, and would rather carry the team’s playing gear, stuffed inside an oversized makeshift luggage bag made of some cheap nylon fabric (Mairondopi), purchased from those popular nil-star Nakaambo outfitters in Bahnhof street, next to the railway station.
Ngaujake would always make sure he footed the fairly long distance from the Long-tail section of Herero location en route to the old Katutura stadium, navigating his way through the notorious Dolam location, to arrive on time before the players’ arrival at the stadium.
There is this nauseating tendency of honouring politicians, or any person holding public office, irrespective of their unimpressive performance during their tenure but those who have contributed immensely to the overall development of the game are systematically cold shouldered many a time.
History is going to judge us harshly one day if we do not write our own story, remembering and accredit those who have served their community with distinction without expecting something in return. The likes of Uncle ‘Dik Tommy’ (Tigers diehard), Levy Rikondja Komomungondo, Meester Joors Gaoseb, Willy Ngate Mberira, Licius Coloured Kakololo, Mitiri Ebson Kapuuo, Cephas Conradie, Mitiri Ekandjo, all deserve to have their names inscribed in the golden pages of our national archives for their unselfish service towards the development of domestic football.
The author would like to humbly urge local sport entities to honour the abovementioned unheralded heroes in one way or the other, most probably in the form of staging annual floating trophy tournaments in remembrance of their behind-the-scene contributions.
A lone ranger, Ngaujake was not only taking care of Starlile’s playing gear, the brother personally did the washing, and ironing during the era of no powered washing machines, let alone electronic irons.
He was obligated by circumstances to manoeuvre his way around the old-fashioned and extremely moody three-legged heating appliance, christened Primus, to get the team’s regalia properly ironed.
Regrettably, Ngaujake silently disappeared from the scene and is reported to pass on ages ago without being accorded a dignified send-off befitting a club legend. It should be noted that the game of football is a team sport, which requires many bodies in the mix of things.
Football does not only revolve around players and coaches, kit managers are nowadays an important component of the game, forming part and parcel of the technical staff. They need to be accorded the same respect as those trotting on the pitch. Kit managers are the architects of the dirty work, always making sure that the team is properly kitted and well represented. May Ngaujake’s selfless soul continue to rest in peace.
Pound for pound with Benestus Katuiisa Rukero
Born at Okaepe village in the Okakarara district, Otjozondjupa region on 8 February 1943, the strongly built Benestus Katuiisa Rukero, was a hard-punching amateur heavyweight boxer at Windhoek’s old location, during his elementary years.
The big frame youngster was amongst few heavyweight leather traders who rubbed shoulders with well-established boxers in the mould of Eazy ‘Brown Bomber’ Tjahikika, Simeon Mbuerendende ‘Kid Cassius’ Tjipura, Levy Riroo Hijamutiti, Immanuel Hijaviposa Kauejao, Jim-Jerry Ngavetene, Uzera Ngavirue, Ambrose Hijatjikunga Kandjii, Hijandarata Kavita, Kavetjimo Katuuo, Cephas Nderura, Levy Rikondja Komomungondo, Walter ‘Clay’ Kupaha Ngueihita, Kandei and Schimming. Rukero, who turned 80 years of age on Wednesday this week, will be best remembered for his astonishing victory against the equally hard hitting Tjipura (Barry Rukoro’s old man), in their electrifying return bout at the busting to seams Natives Community Hall in Otjiwarongo. Having controversially lost the first encounter on points, the young and fearless Rukero was determined to correct matters. He requested a return fight, which culminated in a first round knockout victory for the devastating rookie boxer.
Young Rukero also challenged the then unbeaten Tjahikika but lost on a technical knockout after the latter caught him unaware with a devastating right hook that left him with a fractured jaw, forcefully confining him on a diet of milk like a toddler for an extended period. Upon recovery from the broken jaw, Rukero got his undeniable sweet revenge in the return bout when he floored the more experienced Tjahikika, via a combination of his favourite uppercuts, poisonous right hooks, and devastating jabs to end the fight inside the distance.
The likes of prominent senior Councillor in the Ovaherero ethnic group chieftaincy Usiel Joine Kambirongo, Ngazehingue Kahikumunu, and Axarob Uremena, always found themselves at the receiving end of Rukero’s merciless blows during sparring sessions, forcing them to develop cold feet, ultimately losing further interest in the sport to avoid potential serious bodily harm.
However, as fate would dictate, Rukero’s promising boxing career was abruptly abbreviated following the forced removal of native Bantus from Windhoek’s old location in 1968. The hardcore activist Rukero was amongst those who dug their heels in the sand, refusing point-blankly to be relocated to Katutura township against their will, and rather opted to retreat to their original habitat.
An uncle to multi-talented retired athlete Shabby Rukero, a versatile footy who cut his teeth in topflight football with giant killers Hungry Lions, and to former Liverpool attacking midfielder Kilian Kavari, Rukero moved to the Otjinene reservat in the vastly populated Omaheke region, to start a new life as a successful communal livestock breeding farmer.