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Levy ‘Jomo’ Nakanene, ‘the flying bird’

2019-02-08  Carlos Kambaekwa

Levy ‘Jomo’ Nakanene, ‘the flying bird’

Back in the day during the reign of the much-despised South African apartheid regime, inhabitants from South West Africa (SWA) were hooked to their colonizers’ pattern of behaviour in almost all aspects of their livelihood.
Footballers were no exception to this unwritten rule and would willfully adopt names from their heroes in the South African football industry whilst fashioning their game accordingly, impersonating the silky boys from across the Orange River.  Names that spring to mind were; Jomo, Ace, Chippa, Horse, Kalamazoo, Motwa, Teenage, Malombo, Maria-Maria, Six-Mabone, Wagga, Sadike and Jingles to mention but a few. 

To carry the nickname of any of the above mentioned footballers, one must have fitted the billing perfectly well. More importantly, to be re christened after the great dribbling wizard Ephraim “Jomo” Sono, aka “Troublemaker” required athletes of special talent and Levy Nakanene certainly lived up to that requirement.New Era Sports caught up with the much travelled afro haired retired fullback as he relives his long and winding football journey that saw him rubbing shoulders with some of the finest footballers this country has ever 



OMARURU – Almost five decades ago, the young, raw and innocent Levy Haitjama Nakanene, also known as “Jomo” amongst his circle of friends and football buddies, started what would become a flourishing football career at coastal outfit Blue Waters 4th strings in Walvis Bay.

The versatile Jomo, was for a while the most popular defender in domestic football – ahead of even established stars George Gariseb, Rudolf Noariseb, Kapapi Ochurub, Bigman Nanuseb and fellow Blue Waters FC teammate Simon “Motwa” Mwandingi among others.  
Mwandingi and Jomo formed an integral part of the invincible Blue Waters side that caused havoc in domestic football in the mid 70’s. 

Born Levy Haitjama Nakanene at the Otupupa village, in the semi desert Omatjete district on the 9th of September in 1955 – Jomo learned his football trade in the dusty streets of Windhoek’s old location. Like many other boys his age, Jomo was football crazy and would kick a tennis ball whenever the opportunity presented itself.

He began his primary schooling at the revered St Barnabas and got exposed to the game at an early age. “In those days, there were no other recreational activities available besides football. As young boys, we used to follow African Stars, watching them in action at the old Bantu field against the likes of Tigers, Thistles and Cape Cross,” recalls Jomo.
“I was fascinated and inspired by the likes of Raonga Mbaeva, Coskey Ngaizuvare, Danger Siririka, Amos Tjombe, George Hoveka, Floyd Maharero, Theo Ndisiro, Obed Kamburona and the likes.”

His next stop was the Waterberg School near Okakarara in the vastly populated Otjozondjupa Region where he continued to flirt with the spherical object.    

A product of coastal outfit Blue Waters FC, Jomo started playing competitive football with the Birds’ 4th strings alongside boyhood buddies Lemmy Lazarus and the Jekonia brothers Moripe and Riva. 
At the time, the harbour town was the most attractive destination for job hunters and a significant chunk of young men of Ovaherero descendants arrived in the coastal town in search of greener pastures.
As it turned out, Jomo was amongst a group of footballers that resolved to call into life a football team that they would identify themselves with. 

Back in the day, almost all football teams were established along tribal lines as a result of the systematic cultural segregation, conveniently masterminded by the South African apartheid forces.
Despite the hysteria, the newly formed Red Fire FC could not match the exploits of old time campaigners Blue Waters, Namib Woestyn and Eleven Arrows respectively – the new kid on the block was made to live in the shadow of their celebrated neigbours.

Nonetheless, “Omiriro” as the Kuisebmond outfit team was affectionately known amongst its ardent followers, managed to produce few decent athletes in the shape of Jomo, Mannetjie Tjikune, Kalokie Muriua, Ben Tumuna, Bobby Kazondandona and  Samani Kamerika 
As time went by, some of the old guard in the Blue Waters starting line up started to get a bit long in the tooth – creating an opportunity for young blood. 

“My two close buddies Riva and Lemmy persuaded me to rejoin Blue Waters and since I was desperate to win things – I could not resist the challenge and eventually went back to the team where I started my football career – obviously very much to the chagrin of my teammates and the club’s agitated red army of followers.”
Jomo established himself as a vital cog in the Birds’ rearguard playing a pivotal role in the club’s upsurge in domestic football.

Otjiwarongo outfit Life Fighters came calling after watching two of their best players in the shape of Marques Kamusernadu and Kaputji Kuhanga going in the other direction.

After two solid seasons donning the colourful purple and white strip of “Kahirona” the adorable overlapping pop star look alike fullback sent shockwaves amongst the club’s fans when he jumped ship – only to resurface in the city of bright lights (Windhoek) joining boyhood team African Stars FC.    

His unavoidable arrival at star-studded “Starlile” coincided with the club’s transformation in personnel and complete change of playing style from their traditional long ball to “one-touch” football, introduced by shrewd German mentor Dieter Widmann.

“It was a total new ball game for me and my teammates but we gradually managed to adjust to the coach’s philosophy of keeping ball possession. Personally, I learnt a lot about the finer points of the game under the tutelage of both Kella (Kauta) and Widmann.”

Jomo was part and parcel of the invincible Reds’ outfit that won a double in the inaugural season of multi racial football in apartheid South West Africa in 1977. 

Though he retired prematurely from the game while still at the pinnacle of his promising football career, the well-travelled multi talented fullback enjoyed a stellar career, having represented the strong Western Invitational Eleven on three different occasions. 

He featured against visiting South African leading club Morroka Swallows at the packed to rafters old Katutura stadium. Sadly, Jomo narrowly missed out on representing his native land in the prestigious South African Provincial Currie Cup. 
“I was competing for the same spot as Sparta FC experienced versatile defender Ivo de Gouveia but unfortunately lost out for selection.”

A dribbling wizard blessed with a brilliant first touch and amazing speed, Jomo was the ultimate footballer and history will be incomplete if his name is not scripted in the golden pages of our national archives.     

2019-02-08  Carlos Kambaekwa

Tags: Khomas
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