In contrast to the not so cool tough rules and mean physicality of the oval ball game of rugby, as opposed to what is famously known as a gentleman’s game, football, back in the day, the perceived A-class scholars were mostly spotted wrestling and scrumming on the field, chasing the unorthodox slippery oval ball.
Statistics reveal that some of the finest academically-equipped pupils developed an unquenchable affection towards the game of rugby during their high school days, whilst their slightly less ambitious classmates were content with playing the more glamorous game of football.
Nonetheless, former Okakarara Secondary School pupil Moses Maurihungirire, nowadays a proud PhD holder in Natural Sciences, did not have a choice, as the game of rugby was taboo at his then preferred higher learning institution.
As a result, the much-adored soft-spoken tallish defender was made to settle for the beautiful game of football, defying tradition, obviously by design. ‘Bro Mokes’ formed the spine of the school’s football team alongside the towering Sam “Sweet Sammy” Marenga in an uncompromising rear guard.
The equally beanpole pair of defenders fostered a telepathic partnership, instilling fear in dangerous marauding strikers with their trademark tight man-marking, aided by sporadic career threatening, bone crunching tackles. “Bro Mokes’ motto was simple, if he misses the ball, the leg will unfortunately not escape his wrath.
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sport profile, Tales of the Legends, featuring our sports heroes alive and posthumously, New Era Sport, goes toe-to-toe with the cool as a cucumber “Ocean Expert”, as he unzips his previously unsaid sporting journey in full detail.
Born in 1961 on the 18th of April, in the north-eastern town of Grootfontein, young Moses grew up in the Copper town of Tsumeb, where he started his primary school in 1969 at the town’s native primary school holed up in Nomtsoub.
Like many young boys his age, Moses was football crazy and would play the game at the slightest provocation with boyhood buddies in the neighbourhood. He started out in the school’s seventh team, under the stewardship of now retired school principal and astute sub-a tutor Reinholdt Jesaya. The latter baptised the team, Try Again, for they always found themselves at the receiving end of their opponents.
Some of his now celebrated teammates were: Joel ‘Archer’ Shailemo, Pienaar Thomas and retired pilot William Ekandjo, amongst a few. In the interim, he would team up with boyhood buddies led by Kallie Billhawer, Pederius Tjihoreko, Joachim Katunohange, Junias Tjeenao, and the recently-departed Eleazer Kapi Ngatjiisiue.
The boys engaged in fiercely-contested stake games against their rivals from the Ovambo and Damara sections for misplaced tribal supremacy. In 1972, Bro Mokes founded his own team and purchased some cheap playing gear for the boys.
Being the self-styled club owner, he bestowed upon him the sole beat of recruiting and firing players at his own discretion. The versatile young footie also enjoyed self-accorded preferential treatment, casually shifting between all positions, including goalkeeping – much to the chagrin of his agitated teammates.
His acrobatic exploits between the sticks earned him the nickname ‘Tokky’, after a popular local shot stopper who manned the sticks for the all-whites team across the township.
“In those days, we used to adopt names from our favourite international footballers, such as Pele, Eusebio, Jairzinho, Tostao, and local heroes Pele (Blaschke), Kauru (Billhawer), Ruby (Kamulu), Kaputji (Kuhanga), Ferdinand ‘Karekondjara’ (Namuseb) from BMC fame, Selle (Auchumeb), and other living legends at the time,” recalls Moses with a twinkle in his eyes.
By the time he graduated to the town’s upper primary school – Opawa Junior Secondary School – he found himself in the good hands of shrewd mentors Barry Muifi and Joseph Uiseb. The pair exchanged turns to take both the second and first teams’ playing personnel through the ropes.
In the meantime, competition intensified in the ignorantly-popular tribally-motivated after school street games between the young boys. The young native Pikininis mirrored themselves in the traditional rivalry of their favourite tribal teams – Red Bees (Ovaherero), Rangers, Etosha Lions (both Damara), and Benfica (Ovambo), in that sequence.
Sadly, those fiercely-contested encounters would more than often culminate in bloodied fistfights and stone throwing. Prominent names that spring to mind from those games were: Bernard ‘Bernie’ Narib, and Bee Louw, Draka Shetekela, Dale Stephanus, and Ben Hauwanga of BH fame.
Benfica came into life following the unavoidable arrival of schoolteachers Eino Hauwanga, Johnny Veiko, and Dawid Nakale at the Opawa school. The trio recruited a significant chunk of footies from the school to join forces with the newly formed football entity in the early 70s.
In 1977, Moses went to further his academic aspirations at the Okakarara Secondary School. He slotted in like a hand in a glove in the right fullback position (no 2), for the school’s third strings, alongside the likes of John Erling Kavakuru Tjikuzu, Tuendekuru Kaindjee, Erenfried Kateeua Hoveka, Wilfried Kandando.
However, after just one season with the reserves, his near faultless display earned him well deserved promotion to the school’s star-studded first team. In no time, the tallish boy from the Copper town cemented his place in the starting line up as a noted no nonsense hard tackling defender. He took no prisoners.
“We assembled a solid squad competing fiercely against the likes of Cornelius Goreseb (Khorixas), that saw us rub shoulders with greats such as the late Dr Peter ‘Pele’ Damaseb, and Petrus Ganeb High School (Uis). The latter had great players in their armoury, spearheaded by speedy winger, the late Croocks Casper.
“I still hold fond memories of one particular encounter against Cornelius Goreseb; we almost lost the tie until the timely intervention of Jackson Meroro and Five Kandingua’s educated right boots. Those two guys could strike a ball on sight, what we then used to coin as, “same time”.
Apart from playing for the school’s team, Bro Mokes was a founding member of Young Life FC, a hostel team that was called into life by new in-takes to rival big brother Manchester United, founded by the late Ovambanderu PC Kilus Karaerua Nguvauva. May his gentle soul rest in power. Upon completing his grade 12, ‘Tokky’ carved himself a name as an apprentice in electrical engineering with the Rössing Uranium Mine in Arandis.
He wasted little time and joined exciting Mondesa outfit African Warriors, finding himself in the good company of football greats, Maximus Elago, Abraham ‘Apere’ Shikololo, Tjimbinae Kahuure, trial awaiting former Minister of Fisheries Bernard Esau, acrobatic net-guard Bana Erkana, and Gerry Arnot, amongst others.
“Apart from the domestic bitter rivalry with Blue Boys, we also competed against fellow seasiders Eleven Arrows and Blue Waters. In all honesty, I really enjoyed marking the great Koko Mwatunga, and elder brother Pele, as well as the late dribbling wizard Leo Kuutondokwa.”
As fate would dictate, his promising football career was abruptly abbreviated when he resolved to fine tune his academic credentials at the revered University of Zululand, Natal, South Africa in pursuit of a Degree in Natural Sciences.
He was subsequently conferred with a Masters’ of Science in Medical Parasitology at the University of Natal in 1992, before obtaining a Doctoral Degree in Marine and Estuarine Environmental Sciences at the University of Maryland, United Sates of America.
Off the field, the well decorated competent proud PhD holder, occupied several high-profile portfolios in the private sector and government as director of aquaculture, executive director in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, director of the BCLME Programme’s Activity Centre for Marine Living Resources in Swakopmund, as well as council member of the Namibia Qualifications Authority, amongst his stinking rich resume.