Namibia has for the umpteenth time awoken to another devastating news following the untimely death of former Flames Football Club inspirational skipper Simon Nuujoma, aka "Oikaisino". The much-adored soft-spoken retired defender peacefully passed away at the Roman Catholic Hospital in Windhoek on the 2nd of this month after a losing a long battle with a complication of heart ailments. He will be sadly missed by those who came to know him during his unwavering involvement in student politics and amazing leadership on the football field. In today's edition of your favourite weekly sport feature, Tales of the Legends, profiling local sport heroes and heroines past and present, New Era Sport delves into the untold life story of "Bro Si".
Born in Outjo in the vastly populated Otjozondjupa region in 1950, the late Simon grew up in the coastal holiday resort of Swakopmund where he completed his primary schooling. He then relocated to the city of bright lights (Windhoek) to further his academic aspirations at the revered Augustineum Secondary School.
A man of few words, the darkish hide afro haired student was like many other young boys his age, football crazy and would kick a football whenever the occasion presented itself. Needless to note that his genes dictated he would be a footballer of note.
After all, his late uncle Kamutikarara von Lutitchau was a formidable footballer with Tigers Football Club during his heyday.
Upon arrival at Augustineum, Simon joined forces with hostel team Walvis-Bay City FC, as a recognized descendant of the freezing Atlantic Ocean. However, it was not until he was lured to ambitious Katutura (OD) outfit Flames Football Club on the recommendation of fellow student and former Parliamentarian Asser Mbai.
Such was his influence and calmness that he was installed as team captain, subsequently player/coach. "Bro Si" was tasked to oversee the progress of already established football stars in the following order;
Oscar Mengo, George Kasuto, Mike Hans, Karirii Katire, John Hans, Ngururume Katjiku, Erastus 'Nobby Stiles" Hambira, Asser Mbai, Albert Louw, Abe Katire, Brown Amwenye, Kauru Billhawer, Oscar Kazonganga (yellow bone), Ringo Mbaze Kahiru, Immanuel Kamuserandu, Andehe Haimbodi, Alex Ndjahera, Issy Kahungi, Soetman Kaune, Paul Kaurimuje, Issy Kavezepa, Edward Semba, Kanepi "Half Jack" Amutjira, Leviticus Karretjie Hindjou, and many other exciting footballers.
"Bro Si" wore the captain's armband during the club's historic knockout cup victory against bitter rivals African Stars in the annual tribal tournament in Otjiwarongo. Flames defeated the pre-tournament favourites "Starlile" through guest player Gotty Geiseb's lone strike that left Reds' acrobatic shot-stopper Uzeu "2x2" Muundjua, catching flies.
That particular victory gifted the gold and grass strip outfit eternal bragging rights in the Ovaherero section of Katutura for many years.
The late socialite Nguendu "Maxie" Mbaha, tongue in cheek coined the long-held popular jibe "Vlamme, "Vlamme" Jateja Ozondavi".
Under the shrewd stewardship of football gurus, the late pair of Felix Kakuenje and Darius Tjakaurua, Flames attracted the crème de la crème of local footballers to their nest, enticing them with small pocket money accrued from gate takings and fundraising functions.
The ambitious institution undertook a historical rebel tour to the then Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1978, a year after the unavoidable formation of multi-racial football in Apartheid South West Africa (SWA). The visitors played exhibition matches against Invitational teams in Bulawayo before proceeding to South Africa for further friendly matches against opponents from the militant Federation Football League under the auspices South African Council of Sports (Sacos), peddling the famous slogan "No Normal Sport in an Abnormal Society". Upon their arrival, back home in the land of their forefathers, Flames were summarily served with an indefinite ban from all football-related activities under the banner of the white-dominated South West Africa Football Association (SWAFA).
That grounding eventually signaled the end of a well-oiled product with the team going the way of the dinosaur... never to be heard of again.
And while the majority of the playing personnel were obliged to join other teams in the highly competitive Central Football Association (CFA) League, others hung up their boots in solidarity with the injustice and racially motivated sanction meted against their beloved team.
Nonetheless, "Bro Si" was not entirely lost to the game. He joined Tigers Football club and helped to steady a fragile "Ingwe" ship into becoming serious title contenders.
Apart from his unwavering commitment to the beautiful game of football, the bearded defender was a fearless political activist.
"Bro Si" served the ruling party Swapo with distinction to the extent that he was deservedly bestowed with the distinct honour of veteran status upon Namibia's democracy in 1990.
A jazz music fanatic, "Bro Si" was a long-serving employee of the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) before retirement where he held the plum position of credit collector. He also worked at Daves' Furnishers under the guidance of noted entrepreneur and the first black Mayor of the city of Windhoek Mathews Shikongo.
Meanwhile, condolences continue to pour in on social media for the departed gentle giant. 'He's one of the children from of the storm who served as the bridge that brought this nation over the mountains of turmoil during the years of upheaval.
"He stood firm on full and empty stomach remember one thing, a dream not captured is destiny lost, his soul will rest in peace," reads a message from his comrade Bob Kandetu.
"Sad to hear about his passing, rest in peace my good friend," Ellis Owos-oab. "RIP Simona," from homeboy Slugger Imbili. "Bro Si" leaves behind his gorgeous spouse Rebecca and six children, a pair of Adams and quartet of Eves.
The author is well placed to narrate the untold life story of our beloved "Captain Fantastic" having played under his leadership at Flames FC as a "snot-neus" Kamashona.
Last time we met, we spoke proudly about our affection for Jazz music and discussed plans to have his football profile penned but sadly, the brother will never live to read his own story.
Eish, Bro Si, go well my brother and May your soul be rested peacefully until we meet again in heaven. I'm dam sure, you would be warmly welcomed by departed teammates in the following sequence;
Darius Tjakaurua, Felix Kakuenje, Phillipus Kuveri Uatanaua, Jacob "Soetman" Kaune, Urbanus Kauru Billhawer, Kapurua "Shotgun" Kahiriri, Albert Louw, Tepa Muriua, Kaumbani "Sholly" Tjongarero, Kalokie Muriua, Noah Katjambangu Nguaiko, Chris Ngarangombe, Boas "Mboroto" Herunga, Immanuel Katjiuongua, Zebedeus "Merino" Kandonga, Nguendu "Maxie" Mbaha, Timo Kauuoua, Barminas "Sony" Vetira, Hijandama Tjahikika, Mitiri "Cola-Punch" Kakuizike, Ewaldt Matutu "Futuma" Kaizemi-Seraera, George Kongunja Kasuto including others who have exited the game of life prematurely. May their combined souls continue to rest in peace.