Just as tears of agony started to dry up following the shock passing of Black Africa Football Club legend Albert ‘Lucky’ Richter, another tragedy struck the close- knit family of the Gemengde outfit.
Former Jaguars Rugby Club legend Gotthardt Tjimbongoro Karamata has fallen victim to the devastating coronavirus after he was admitted to a local health establishment in Windhoek over the last couple of weeks.
Famously going by the name ‘Omo’ (uncle), the easy-going, bearded socialite will be best-remembered for his time as a formidable rugby player during his heyday. He was amongst a crop of highly-gifted, enthusiastic young men who chose to flirt with the oval ball instead of chasing the more glamorous, inflated spherical pigskin.
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sport feature Tales of the Legends, profiling our own sport personalities present and posthumously, New Era Sport pays a fitting homage to sport legend ‘Omo’, a staunch Black Africa Sport Club supporter.
Born in the garden town of Okahandja on the 9th of May 1950, the late Tjimbongoro was amongst a few boys from well-to-do parents who had settled in the slightly upmarket residential area for Bantus (natives) Katutura by black standards. Defiant residents from Windhoek’s Old Location witnessed their precious dwellings bulldozed by caterpillars in 1968, and left with no choice but to relocate to the Katutura residential area.
The more streetwise boys from the Old Location settled quickly in their new environment, and wrested territorial authority from the Katutura boys. ‘Omo’ and his peers were made to eat humble pie as they were made to settle for much lesser roles in society.
Gotthardt started his primary school at the Rhenisch Herero School in Windhoek’s Old Location where his old man Hugo Karamata was teaching. The stocky flanker ended up finishing his secondary schooling at the revered Augustineum in his birthplace Okahandja, before the higher learning institution was relocated to the city of bright lights on the outskirts of Namibia’s commercial capital Windhoek, to further his academic aspirations.
‘Omo’ slotted into the school’s rugby fifteen, and was the preferred number eight (8) in a formidable lineup that included Germanus Mate, Hendrik Christian, Godwin Kaambo, Jerry Kauapundu, Kuhepa Zeze, Simon Kunouee Kavari, Ernst “Cola Punch” Kakuizike, Eliah Kaakunga, Michael Pienaar sr, Packy Uaaka, Charles Tjijenda, Frikkie Plaatjies, Victor Hamburumana Kangootui, elder brother William Karamata, and many other talented athletes.
Often going by the nickname of ‘Vuil Baard’ (sloppy beard), ‘Omo’ acquitted himself perfectly well in the physical game of rugby, and was one the stars of the school team. The school team competed fiercely against bitter rivals St Joseph’s Secondary School (Dobra), and also played in the highly competitive Central Rugby League for non-Europeans against top teams from Khomasdal and Rehoboth, respectively.
‘Vuil Baard’ was amongst the founder members of Katutura outfit Jaguars Rugby Club when former learners from both Augustineum and Dobra threw their weight together to call into life the first-ever rugby team from South West Africa (SWA)’s largest residential area Katutura in 1972.
Interestingly, the militant young men resolved to use the game of rugby as a vital tool to advance their political agenda unhindered under the guise of the oval ball game to avoid persecution from the trigger-happy Bowker Boys.
However, it was not a bed of roses on the field of play as the new kids on the block were subjected to all kinds of racial prejudices. The team’s playing personnel were constantly mocked, and baptised the Jeffersons after a popular soapie featuring black actors broadcast on the newly-introduced South West Africa (SWA) Television Station.
Despite the many disturbing obstacles thrown in their path, Jaguars managed
to weather the storm gallantly and established themselves as a major force
to be reckoned with in an area previously strictly reserved for the more affluent white folks.
With time passing by, a significant chunk of the team’s playing personnel resolved to skip their motherland for better educational opportunities abroad. This trend eventually left the team gravely lean in terms of manpower, leading to Jaguars’ unavoidable demise. Former teammate Charles Tjijenda describes the departed forward as a phenomenal athlete blessed with an unbelievably big engine.
“I’m saddened by the untimely death of Gotty. He was such a kindhearted bloke who always put the interest of the team first......never someone who strived for individual glory. He was fearless and always put his body on the line, forever prepared and ready to roll with the punches, and above all, a trusted soldier in the scrums. The Basters/Coloureds’ teams always tried to intimidate and bully us in the scrums, but Gotty would pay them back in their own coin,” concludes a teary Tjijenda.
‘Omo’ was amongst the few who remained put, and like many blacks of German descendants, enjoyed half-hearted preferential treatment from law authorities,
Upon completing secondary school, ‘Vuil Baard’ ventured into the lucrative business of taxi driving, but later left after he found employment with LTA, and then CTM, before he landed himself a plum position with mining giants Karibib Mine in the Erongo region until his retirement in 2013.
Back in the day, certain jobs were halfheartedly reserved for darkish hide blokes of German descendants, and Bro ‘Vuil Baard’ was no exception to this rule. He fashioned himself a decent slave with construction giants LTA, occupying the portfolio of timekeeper. The position of timekeeping was without an iota of doubt amongst the preferred, much sought-after jobs during the apartheid era.
During his high school days, he built a strong a friendship with fellow pupils, amongst them the Kaiyamo brothers from Tsumeb, with incumbent Namibian ambassador to China Eliah Kaiyamo his eternal closest buddy.
A football fanatic and product of the notorious Police Camp enclave, a mixed-tribe residential section holed up east of Katutura, ‘Vuil Baard’ got hooked to the beautiful game of football after retirement from playing competitive rugby.
The brother fell madly in love with local giants Black Africa Football Club, and became an ever-present, staunch supporter of the exciting Gemengde outfit, to the extent that his entire family, including his late spouse ‘Suster Karamata’ (Katrina Toeks Kruger), became part and parcel of the close-knit BA family. May their combined souls rest in power. Gotthardt will be laid to rest in Okahandja tomorrow morning.