It has been quite a hectic week for this author personally, emotionally and psychologically. Death is not always the end, it’s only the beginning, and grief is the price we pay for love. Think of death as just another step on your journey to eternity.
But still, the feeling of losing great men of substance and contrasting personalities, whom I came to know up close and freely mingled with on a social and professional level for over two decades, is a bit uncool or rather unbearable, to say the least.
Tellingly, both were noted athletes in their own rights, and while Lukas Hangula Muatunga was a steady defender for coastal giants Blue Waters, Ambrosius Tjipuku Kandjii was firmly entrenched in the dog-eat-dog ring of boxing.
But coincidently, the two departed comrades had one thing in common – both were great football and boxing radio sports commentators.
It’s now our distinct honour to pay dignified homage to our departed brothers, as we tell their untold sporting journeys. May both their souls rest well.
One of the quartets of the football-playing Muatunga siblings, Lukas was the younger brother of former Blue Waters’ lethal goalpoacher Unias Phello Muatunga,
and elder brother of the equally dangerous Koko and Phello Jr Muatunga.
A very disciplined, dedicated and well-spoken young man of decent upbringing, the versatile midfielder was mostly deployed as an auxiliary defender, or often shifted to the middle of the park to neutralise marauding strikers with his trademark tight man-marking for his beloved Blue Waters.
Muatunga enjoyed cup success with Waters that saw him lifting the much sought-after Namibia Super Soccer League (NSSL) title in 1988, a pair of Mainstay Cup silver medals, the coveted BP Top Eight Cup gold medal in 1995, and several other top-notch accolades during an illustrious football career that stretched well over a decade.
Truth be told, Lukas was inadvertently made to live in the imposing shadows of his more celebrated siblings Phello and Koko, who were both exceptional athletes.
The easy-going defender was not duly accorded the respect and appreciation he so dearly deserved for his immense contribution to the game and unbelievable workrate on the playing field. Well, that’s the unfortunate price one has to pay if you are born into a family of exceptional siblings.
Off the field, the articulate Lukas was a properly polished, self-taught football analyst and a renowned freelance commentator for both radio and television, effortlessly cutting his teeth through the Afrikaans vernacular for the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation back in the day.
Unlike many of his peers who had completely disappeared from the game upon their retirement from playing competitive football, Muatunga stayed put and unselfishly served on Waters’ executive committee in various positions, including that of secretary general.
In the intervening years, the likeable Lukas relocated up north, exchanging the cool breeze of the giant Atlantic Ocean for the warm comfort of the north, finding refuge in the rapidly growing modern town of Ondangwa to be reunited with eternal buddy and former co-commentator, Gary Sales. Sadly, as fate would dictate, Muatunga mysteriously passed away after a short illness. May his gentle soul rest well until our paths cross again.
Ambrosius Tjipuku Kandjii
In real life, the departed Kandjii was a vibrant political activist who dedicated his life and precious time to improve and change the living conditions of marginalised communities. The tireless boy from Otjimbingwe will be best remembered for his involvement in developing upcoming boxers in the amateur ranks.
Born in Windhoek on 23 August 1970, the energetic Kandjii was not a saint, and often engaged in a fair number of run-ins with his subjects at the slightest provocation. The short-fused former amateur boxer was never shy to unleash a combination of
quick jabs and uppercuts in the direction of those undermining his authority.
Some of his uncooperative, stubborn proteges found themselves at the short end of his itchy knuckles, while media practitioners were also not spared the rod of his sharp tongue whenever the brother felt short-changed.
Nonetheless, the good eclipses the bad, and without a shadow of doubt, Kandjii comes out tops. Apart from a few unpleasant human flaws, and of course his well-documented short temper, the brother was very kind-hearted and was indeed a man of great substance, who never hesitated to assist those in need.
Kandjii ventured into the business of leather-trading (boxing) during his high school days at the Colin Foundation Secondary School in Arandis, and even though his boxing abilities did not entirely inspire the confidence of the neutral fan, the young man demonstrated great vision as arguably the finest talent scout and most astute boxing administrator of his generation. His sharp eye helped unearth raw talents in the shape of promising rookie boxers who all went on to be crowned world and continental champions. The likes of Paulus Ambunda, Sacky Shikukutu, Edward Mumbuu, Jatoorora Tjingaveta, Vikapita Meroro, Mendu Kaangudue and many others all went through his magical hands before joining the paid ranks.
Not only was he a highly-rated talent scout, the brother was equally brilliant as a noted administrator, boasting a telling resume as an overall phenomenal boxing guru. Kandjii served on all levels of the local boxing hierarchy, from executive member of the national amateur boxing federation to board member of the country’s highest boxing umbrella body – the Namibia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board.
In addition, he marshalled the Namibian boxing team to various international august gatherings: the quadrennial Commonwealth Games, All Africa Games, Zonal Games, and the Summer Olympic Games.
He also played a pivotal role when Namibia successfully hosted the biennial Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) Championships on home soil in 2008. Famously known as a man wearing many hats, Kandjii has done almost everything there was to be done in local boxing. Mission accomplished; it was time to move on to the next chapter of a life well-travelled. The brother turned his focus to politics.
Never short of confidence, spiced by a casual pinch of arrogance, the outspoken political activist wasted little time and threw his name in the hat for the enticing Katutura Central Constituency councillor post, a portfolio he held with great aplomb for two consecutive terms.
A true brave son of the soil and confidante of the masses, Kandjii was never one to surrender easily. He silently retreated to his native village, where he kept himself occupied with livestock farming until his untimely departure after a short illness. To him I say, “suva mohange muatje uaKandjii kaSeu uaHameja uaRumbambi”.