Death has struck again, as the Namibian football fraternity mourns the sad passing of former Augustineum Secondary School football team and African Stars Football club’s giant shot stopper Moses Kaheese Kavikairiua, famously going by the name of ‘Cheese’
Bro Cheese exited the game of life peacefully at his farm near Okakarara in the Otjozondjupa region last week after losing a long battle with illness. Apart from stopping marauding strikers right in their tracks with his imposing big frame between the sticks, ‘Bro Cheese’ will be best remembered for the commendable humanitarian role he played in fostering close ties between his beloved ‘Starlile’ and coastal giants Blue Waters Football Club.
New Era Sport will also pay dignified tributes to the trident of well known departed football personalities-cum-politicians, salted liberation struggle cadres, in the shape of Blue Waters stalwart Ruben Shoonga, retired African Stars and Life Fighters Football Club’s fringe players-cum-diehard supporters Mitiri Ernest Tjitjai Kandjavera and Festus ‘Fish’ Hijamahundju Tjizire. May their soul rest in eternal peace, collectively.
Back in the day during the unpleasant dark chapter of apartheid, growing up in the townships was a real challenge for many black kids, sometimes not even knowing where your next meal was going to come or whether your parents would return home safely from work amidst the constant harassment from the trigger happy Bowker Boys (cops).
Truth be told, life was extremely tough and growing up in Windhoek’s old location was certainly not for the faint hearted and the ultimate survival was the order of the day. In the absence of proper recreational facilities, young boys would engage in all sorts of activities to while away time keeping themselves busy and a good distance from the potential evils of dangerous physical street fights for provincial supremacy.
The preferred pastime were; crook and cowboy, swimming in the notorious van Rhyn Dam (Ondende), cycling, obviously paddling stolen modified bicycles, unlawfully snatched from unsuspecting white boys in the adjacent Windhoek West neighbourhood, a kind of nil-star suburb specifically designed for the less affluent white folks.
The residents would be usually semi-literate Afrikaans speaking blokes, slaving at TransNamib, as supervisors. Nowadays, a well respected man of the cloth Bro Ignatius Mbapeua Katataiza, aka ‘Mazola’, was the real Langana (ringleader) in the not-so-good illegal potential life threatening trade of bicycle snatching.
Nonetheless, the beautiful game of football would always take centre stage whenever the opportunity arose. Young boys would converge at the gravel football field next to the Rhenish Herero Primary School to kick about a football after school and on weekends.
It was not until blacks were forcefully relocated to the Katutura township that the game of football started to spread rated her wings as a result of a decent football filed, the Katutura Municipality sport field next the Central Big Shops, which young boys resolved to play organized football. Back in the day, it was very difficult to break into the established club’s starting elevens as most teams ignored young talent.
Two rival teams were formed in the Herero and OD sections going by the names of Golden Stars and Ehahe. These two teams would ultimately unintentionally define the immediate future of Katutura glamour football club African Stars. Such was the competition and rivalry that parents had to step in to have both teams dismantled, as most clashes resulted in potential injurious physical battles.
The best players from both teams were swallowed into African Stars first team with the less talented having to be satisfied with accommodation in the Reds’ second strings. As it turned out, ‘Bro Cheese’, a then student at the revered Augustineum Secondary School, was entrusted to keep goal for the Reds’ first team, succeeding the late butter fingered Ratjindua Katjimune and the dangerously unreliable Ngatangue Ngezemba.
However, it was not a smooth-sailing journey for the beanpole goalie as he was made to battle for the starting berth with another Augustineum product, the late Nicklaus Njangatare Kajau.
The dominant view was that Bro Cheese, always enjoyed preferential treatment because of his maternal blood links with his brother and undisputed club blue eyed boy Oscar Mengo and inspirational skipper, the late Justus Kaika Uahatjiri Kuzee. The latter happened to be a long time close buddy of Bro Cheese, and as they say, the rest is history.
A brave shot stopper, his imposing big frame often stood him in good command with aerial balls but would also be found wanting with slippery grass cutters. He was notorious for letting in harmless looking deliveries into goal...much to the chagrin of his defenders and amused teammates.
Eish...‘Bro Cheese’, would have none of that and always retaliated, insisting for the notion of collective responsibility. “Why did you guys not stop the strikers from shooting at goal and dribbling past you?” ...that was ‘Bro Cheese’ for you.
On another level, ‘Cheese’ played a pivotal role off the field and would be accredited as the man who fostered a sound reciprocal deal between African Stars and Kuisebmond outfit Blue Waters. Having fallen head over heels with a gorgeous lass from the freezing Atlantic Ocean and fellow student at Augustineum, ‘Bro Cheese’ would made it his soul beat to accompany his sacred ‘bird’ on the marathon train journey to the coast during schools vacation.
As a recognized unofficial son-in-law, ‘Bro Cheese’ was obliged by decency and custom to turn out for Omeya during his free lodging in that neck of the woods, sharing goalkeeping duties with Bonetti Niilenge. The two net-guards became great buddies and were inseparable until after their inevitable retirement from playing competitive football.
Upon his pre mature retirement from competitive football, ‘Bro Cheese’ was not entirely lost to the game and went onto serve the Reds in various managerial positions during an illustrious period of the Reds’ amazing golden generation.
Starlile famously clinched the first ever knockout cup tournament, carrying a handsome cash prize money of N$1 000 in 1975, tailed by the historic cup double in the maiden edition of multi racial football in apartheid South West Africa, in 1977.
We would also like to recognise the contribution of the following departed football icons, former Blue Waters player and uncompromising political activist Ruben Shoonga, fellow liberation cadre Ernst Tjitjai Kandjavera, who also had a short lived stint with African Stars’ second strings, and Kahirona’s diehard Festus Tjizire, famously known as ‘Oom Vis’, amongst his vast circle of friends. May their combined souls rest in eternal peace in one piece.