Former Blue Waters Football Club’s burly forward Lawrence ‘Zondi’ Amadhila was at the peak of his well-oiled flawless football career, forming the spine of Omeya’s golden generation in the mid-seventies (70’s), when news blurred through the grapevine that the much-adored attacker had skipped his motherland to exile in search of better educational opportunities in 1975.
His sudden departure alongside his equally dangerous pair of teammates Lemmy Lazarus and Micah ‘Capro’ Ngapurue sent shockwaves amongst the Birds’ faithful, leaving the smooth-sailing ship of ‘Omeya’ heavily depleted in terms of quality playing personnel. Zondi’s unavoidable promotion to the Birds’ first team had coincided with the inevitable retirement of several first- team regulars.
The Birds were undergoing a major squad overhaul in playing personnel, with a number of highly-gifted youngsters thrown into the mix of things to succeed the ageing old guard. Sadly, the abovementioned trio never returned to their motherland upon Namibia’s democracy in 1990, and whilst the remains of Ngapurue were repatriated to his motherland for a dignified burial, mystery still lingers over the whereabouts or rather the likely unmarked graves of both Amadhila and Lazarus.
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sport feature Tales of the Legends, New Era Sport will pay a dignified homage, posthumously, to former Blue Waters FC’s much-adored fast as lightning attacker Lawrence ‘Zondi’ Amadhila, one of the greatest athletes to have ever played the beautiful game of football on Namibian soil. May his soul continue to rest in power.
Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekua
History reveals that Blue Waters Football Club were amongst the few decent football clubs in the early Seventies as the coastal giants dished out some exciting football barely witnessed in domestic surroundings. It’s believed that the seasiders were chief beneficiaries of foreign invasion by the Spanish and Portuguese fishermen, who descendent on the harbour town (Walvis Bay), back in the day.
The exciting Kuisebmond outfit perfectly copied the European style of play from their newly-found role models, playing one-touch football with lots of emphasis on teamwork and off-the-ball movements, as opposed to the traditional individual talents of their opponents. Omeya’s unique style of play captured the imagination of the neutral fan as they randomly ran rings around their clearly confused opponents during the then-popular knockout cup tournaments contested countrywide.
With the well-spread afro-haired big-framed Zondi, whose looks could be easily mistaken for a pop star in her armoury, the Birds managed against all odds to knock bitter rivals Namib Woestyn off their perch, winning several domestic knockout cup competitions that included the popular annual Municipality Floating Trophy in succession between 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1974, in that sequence. Certainly no mean feat.
Playing just in front of a flawless midfield combination, masterfully engineered by the late magician Bernard Da Costa Phillemon, ably aided by the nimble-footed Capro Ngapurue and defensive midfield kingpin Longeni ‘Ranga’ Lucas, the afro-haired Birds’ number seven (7) was a menace to many defenders with his amazing speed, strength, brilliant first touch and dangerous eye for goal.
Zondi formed a breath-taking telepathic partnership with Lemmy Lazarus and veteran centre-forward Johannes Pwiro Angula, famously known as the “Black Napoleon”. The trio mesmerised opposing defenders at will, banging in goals as if the art of goalscoring was going out of fashion.
As fate would dictate, Bro Zondi stood on the edge of selection to be included in the all Blacks Invitational Eleven when the apartheid local authorities sanctioned the historic exhibition match between the blacks and their Whites counterparts in 1975, albeit reluctantly.
The historic match, which drew a record-breaking crowd to the Suidwes rugby stadium, ended in a controversial 3-all stalemate. The clearly outplayed and outthought whites were awarded a highly dubious thrice-taken spot kick, which they eventually converted via the not so exactly co-operative right boot of Gernot Ahrens with virtually the last kick of the match.
However, by this time, the likeable free-scoring winger had already packed his bags, hitting northwards en route to Zambia via Angola to join the liberation movement Swapo in exile. Upon his arrival in Lusaka, Zambia, the former Blue Waters’ target man was dispatched to Kenya for studies, where he qualified as a schoolteacher before returning to Zambia.
He was tasked to take new arrivals and young children born in exile from Namibian parents through the ropes in the area of basic education at the Nyango Education Centre for Refugees in Western Zambia, east of Pokola. The centre was primarily established to provide health and education services to several thousand Namibian refugees then living in Zambia during the apartheid era.
Apart from teaching, the big-frame winger took off from where he left off on the football pitch at home, playing for Nyango Rangers, a refugee football team. According to fellow teammate, returnee Banana Shekupe, the Swapo refugees’ settlement camp boasted a very strong football team which competed fiercely against local teams.
“Bro Zondi was a very good footballer, and even made his mark when we were studying in Kenya. At times, we played for the combined United Nations Institute of Namibia (Unin) Eleven in Lusaka with other high- profile Namibian refugees against the locals,”.
Some of the celebrated teammates were Capro Ngapurue, Jason Kayala Haufiku, Gabes Gariseb, Vincent “Botsotso” Hermann, Immanuel “Fusi” Semba, Benny Petrus, Banana Shekupe, Erich Khari-axab Lambert, Lohmeir Angula, Fred Madoba Goeieman, Mike Kanao and several other footies who previously plied their trade in the Namibian top-flight football leagues,” recalls Shekupe.
After serving as a schoolteacher for a period of four years at the liberation movement’s second-largest refugees’ settlement camp in Nyango, Zondi was posted to London, England for further studies. However, the brother was cunningly summoned to report at the Transit Refugee camp in Luanda, Angola, where he continued to teach Namibian refugees, though his health started to deteriorate rapidly because of chronic diabetes.
Sadly, whispers in the deep are that the football-playing schoolteacher was kidnapped after darkness had set in alongside fellow compatriot, the late Lohmeier Angula, from their base whilst playing a game of cards with friends. He was then mercilessly left on his own to perish a painful slow death in Ngunza en route to Lubango in the absence of his prescribed medication. May his soul continue to rest easy.
As a result, the adorable tireless winger never reached the promised land of milk and honey to realise his long- held dream of liberating his motherland. Zondi is amongst dozens of former footies who have mysteriously disappeared into thin air without trace, and although some of them are presumed to have tendered their resignations of membership from mother planet unwillingly, the identity of their final resting places remain an unresolved closed chapter. May their souls rest in eternal peace in one piece, collectively.