Just as the entire world comes to terms with the shock departure of internationally acclaimed football legend, Argentinean Diego Armando Maradona, the harbour town of Walvis Bay has been hard hit by the devastating news of the sad passing of one of her own favourite sons.
Former Super Stars Football Club tough tackling bulky defender Elton Samson Toivo Uirab, aka “Axies”, has taken a bow from the game of life after losing a long battle against a mysterious illness, aged 56, just four years shy of reaching the retirement mark.
The likeable easygoing socialite had been unwell over the last couple of months and finally succumbed to ill health in a Walvis Bay hospital last week.
He will be sorely missed by those who came to know him up close, including fellow high school students from the revered Petrus Ganeb Secondary School in Uis.
A part-time commercial farmer, the towering bulky fullback was one of the founder members of the now defunct youthful football Kuisebmond outfit Iwisa Football Club, alongside Matheus “Harari” Nehoya, Benedictus “Pule” Benson, agile goalie Immanuel “Sparks” Gottlieb, Salathiel Kutsi Shafobambi and the late Gregory “Greg” Benson-Gawanab.
The hard-tackling fullback was a very competitive athlete who took no prisoners, notably during the hotly contested local derby between Iwisa and Amazulu. The hard-as-rock right fullback also possessed dynamite in his right foot and many shot stoppers dreaded facing him.
A much-feared free kick specialist, Abuti Axies once stunned the large crowd gathered at the compact Kuisebmond stadium, Walvis Bay, when his thunderbolt free-kick against the visiting Swakopmund Fussball Club (SFC) from 30 yards out-kissed the roof of the net ... leaving the opposite goalkeeper catching flies.
In later years, he joined forces with another side Kaizer Chiefs during the popular Kuisebmond holidays derby against Orlando Pirates ... mimicking the Soweto derby between South African football heavyweights Kaizer Chiefs and bitter rivals Orlando Pirates.
At Chiefs, “Abuti Axies” rubbed shoulders with the likes of Sadike Gottlieb, Tara “Terry” Shimbuli, Matatias “Koko” Muatunga, Giant Shoopala, and the ever green Milla “Khumalo” Gertze.
He was to play an instrumental role when a significant chunk of playing personnel from Iwisa broke ties with the club to call into life the equally dangerous youthful outfit Super Stars FC, aka “Super Doen” in 1982.
At school level, “Bro Toys” also going by the nickname of “Sibis”, well known for his uncompromising dangerous slide tackling, turned out for Petrus Ganeb High School team, alongside fellow seasiders and homeboy Sparks Gottlieb, Toy “Ramosa” Palmer, Diego Hansen, the legendary late Michael “Bokke” Classen and the terrible twins Jefta and Gustav Goagoseb.
Off the field, the huge frame hard-as-nails fullback was considered an extremely dedicated generous kindhearted gentle giant, who always served his community unconditionally with a great measure of aplomb.
Born in Otjimbingwe in 1964, “Abuti Axies” grew up in Walvis Bay when his parents relocated to the harbour town in search of pastures green.
Boyhood buddy and former teammate Immanuel “Sparks” Gottlieb describes the departed defender as a great man of substance. “I’m totally devastated by the sad passing of my close friend and confidante ‘Sibis’, as we would always call him. He was not just a good friend of mine, Toivo was a trusted group cadre, and we named our group Iwisa, which subsequently transformed into a very competitive football team.
“Our signature tune was ‘nobody goes home’ – once you come to practice sessions at six in the afternoon (18h00) you only go home at six the next morning. The rivalry between Iwisa, Amazulu and Hallow Boys was intense to the extent that one was not safe on your own. Since he was older than us, Bro Axies was always like a father, leader and guardian. Go well Tivees ... May your precious soul rest in peace,” concludes Gottleib’s moving message of condolence to his departed former teammate.
Axies’ former schoolteacher at Petrus Ganeb High, Dawid “Big Fellah” Snewe, also weighed in with condolences to his protege. “I was mentoring him in mathematics and agriculture in Grade 9 – he was such a wonderful chap always full of laughter, a staunch Orlando Pirates supporter, he was always an above average student and always committed in whatever he laid his hands on. No wonder he became a successful commercial farmer upon his retirement from competitive football. May his soul rest peacefully.”