Namibia: Kung Fu Master (85) Joins GBV Battle

AN 85-YEAR-OLD self-proclaimed kung fu master, Lazarus Mambo, says he is keen to use his 40 years' experience in martial arts to contribute to the fight against gender-based violence in Namibia.

Mambo, who said age is nothing but a number, added that he will not be deterred from offering self-defence classes to women and men nationwide.

Mambo, who has taught karate for over 40 years and founded the Namibian Sports and Recreational Centre (NSRC) in the Damara location of Katutura on 14 May 1980, said women need to take their safety into their own hands and learn self-defence.

"As an old man I experienced violence at the hands of youth gangs robbing community members on a regular basis," he said.

He said NSCR was founded to equip Namibians to fight against the South African administration.

During the 1950s, the Windhoek municipality and the South African apartheid administration forced blacks from the Main Location to Katutura.

"This injustice and criminal behaviour led to the foundation of NSRC," he said.

Mambo told The Namibian he was trained by internationally recognised kung fu master Chin Miel Su in the 1950s.

"I am highly encouraged to start defence classes because it hurts me whenever I read of rape and gender-based violence in the newspapers," he said.

Mambo said the need for self-defence in the community has grown into a need for survival.

"We as a physical training education centre have put a strategy in place for every community member to feel safe in the streets.

"I have taught over 6 000 students kung fu many of whom went on to be successful men," said Mambo.

The centre currently accommodates fewer than 30 students because of Covid-19 protocols; hence Mambo is appealing for sponsorship and donations to spruce up the old building.

He urged all his old students to plough back by funding the centre in any way they can and promote self-defence in Namibia.

"I have trained many politicians and prominent people in Namibia, but they have all forgotten about the centre. All I am appealing for is a larger well-equipped building to accommodate women as well. Previously, only men trained at the centre," said Mambo.

One of Mambo's students before independence, Mark Zwaw (50), said in his youthful days, he would always attend the physical education classes on a daily basis.

Zwaw added that self-defence classes were his favourite as he sometimes used his martial arts skills to defend himself against bullies at school.

"I was one of the most quiet students at school, but nobody messed with me because I was tough," he said.

Another former student, Hans Swartz (59), remembers attending Mambo's karate classes from 1981 to 1984.

According to Swartz, these lessons were productive both physically and intellectually.

"In a way, they have taught me discipline. I have learned to respect everyone in my community, I am so grateful for the opportunity," he said.

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