Death has struck again as the country’s football fraternity mourns the sudden passing of former Kuisebmond unfashionable outfit Red Fire Football Club attacking midfielder-cum-political activist turned trade unionist, Naftalie Karakura Katjita. The likeable trade unionist exited the game of life in the most mysterious circumstances in Uis, Kunene region where he went to perform cultural rituals, politely negotiating for the hand of his son’s gorgeous bird (fiancée). Whilst performing the customary cultural protocols, the brother suddenly took ill, and subsequently blew his last breath on Mother Earth, much to the shock of his soon-to-be in-laws and his spouse who had accompanied him. A product of the revered Martin Luther High School (MLH) “Kara” spent a significant chunk of his formative years in the harbour town of Walvis Bay.
Back in the day, the harbour town of Walvis Bay boasted an avalanche of great football teams in the mould of Blue Waters, Namib Woestyn, Eleven Arrows, Sparta, Atlantis, Explorer Eleven and Red Fire.
In those days, many football teams were established along tribal lines and the latter was no exception to this unwritten traditional rule.
A recreational institution made up of predominantly young Ovaherero-speaking men who descended on the harbour town in search of greener pastures, three quarters of the squad members also doubled up as mean amateur boxers.
As was customary, natives were only allowed to find employment in towns close to their respective reservaats (villages/‘reserves’) and it came as no surprise that the majority of the team’s playing personnel hailed from Omaruru, Otjimbingwe and Otjituuo enclaves.
Many a time, their boxing instincts would be transferred to the football field whenever results were hard to come by. A lot of football teams never exactly looked forward to confronting the notorious Reds on their home turf, notably the old sandy Kuisebmond field.
Born in Omuti Uanduho in the Omaruru district, Erongo region in 1956, “Kara” started chasing an inflated piece of leather in the dusty streets of Ozondje, Omaruru’s residential area for Bantus (blacks) during the height of apartheid.
He attended the Pahee Primary School for natives in Omaruru and was like any other boy his age, football crazy.
Upon completion of his primary school, it was only fitting that the smart “Kara”, who was an incredible A student, found refuge at the revered Martin Luther High School (MLH) in Okombahe to further his academic aspirations.
His next stop was the coastal town of Walvis Bay, Namibia’s chief harbour town locked on the banks of the freezing Atlantic Ocean. He joined unfashionable Kuisebmond robust outfit Red Fire and as they say, the rest is history.
In the interim, the slippery midfielder would regularly feature for boyhood team Scorpions FC as a guest player in the popular knockout cup tournaments in his native Omaruru. Elder brother Gerhard Katjita was also a formidable footballer in his own right.
Retired Red Fire FC acrobatic shot stopper Kudu Tumuna describes his departed teammate as a true gentleman and great team player.
“I’m gravely saddened and devastated by the sad passing of Karakura – he was not only a highly gifted footballer; a well-spoken young lad of decent upbringing who always avoided bad publicity on and off the field.
“He was always exemplary, a born leader and a damn good reader of the game, very good in the air and could also weigh in with crucial goals whenever the situation demanded.
“Nonetheless, there was also another side to his cool personality; when provoked he wouldn’t hesitate and was always quick to unzip his itchy knuckles. May his soul rest in peace,” concludes Kudu.
“Kara” found himself a slave with local giant tin cans manufacturer Metal Box in Walvis Bay but later left the company to take up employment with then South African Railways (TransNamib).
This was during the time of the much despised establishment of the South West Africa (SWA) second tier government, under the watch of Advocate Louis Pienaar that saw the serially marginalized Bantustan slightly elevated to better paid jobs.
Young black men were hurriedly fast-tracked to occupy “mildly decent” jobs in the railway industry ... positions that were previously strictly reserved for semi-illiterate white Afrikaners.
As it turned out, “Kara” was posted to the southern part of the country that saw him deployed to Karasburg before he was transferred to Karibib, to man the tiny Albrecht Railway Sub Station.
After years of uninterrupted service with TransNamib, “Kara” resigned and relocated to Swakopmund where he found employment with the town’s municipality, holding the portfolio of human resource manager.
In the meantime, the former MLH student, a staunch political activist and dedicated Swapo member and militant, became an active member of the strong Namibian Seamen and Allied Workers Trade Union (Nasawu), an affiliate member of the Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna).
His interest in politics started during his time at Martin Luther High where he was to play an instrumental role in the students’ countrywide uprising in 1976.
Black students across the length and breadth of the country downed their books in heavy protest of the discriminating Bantu education system.
Apart from politics, “Kara’ was also a dedicated man of the cloth, who served the Lutheran Evangelical Church (Bet El) in his adopted town Swakopmund with distinction and was duly elected church elder until his untimely death.
He was also a powerful harmonist with the church choir and could be heard blurting out heart-throbbing melodies via his semi-baritone voice.