Inside the Aged
Ever since young Manfred Bush Muheke Menjengua started juggling an inflated dilapidated pigskin – there was no doubt in the minds of those who had been around the block a couple of times that this stocky muscular boy was a bit different from his peers.
African Stars fans will remember Bush “the Flying Winger” as one of the real characters in the all-conquering Star’s outfit that won the first ever Sponsored Tournament with an amount of N$1 000,00, to be precise – which was quite a lot of moolah at the time.
Now, some good years after having bade farewell to the game he served with so much distinction, the fast galloping former African Stars winger has not changed an inch despite a couple of grey hairs here and there – always eager to crack a joke or two and his sense of humour still very much intact.
New Era Sports caught up with Bush and here he takes us on a heart-throbbing journey that abbreviated his flourishing football career – though it was not of his own doing.
Bush was amongst a very few talented footballers who embraced the essence of proper education and this led to him skipping the country – going into exile where he found refuge in countries such as Botswana, Zambia and Germany where he spent a good chunk of his years.
By Carlos Kambaekwa
Like many youngsters of his generation, Bush was born in the Old Location in Windhoek, and it was in the dusty streets of the Old Location where he started chasing leather at the tender age of six.
His early connection with the game of football was influenced mainly by his father Ferdinand Menjengua, who happened to be the Team Manager of the star-studded Juveniles Football Club.
His two siblings Lotte and Adelaide were also the talk of the township on the athletics track and there was just no way young Bush would step aside and live in the shadow of his elder sisters.
“I had great admiration for my two sisters because they were absolutely untouchable in both the 100 and 200 meters sprints, so I was compelled to come on board and be spoken of in the same breath.”
Apart from his childhood team Juveniles – Bush always made time to watch other teams in action and here he speaks with a twinkle in his eyes over the magic touches of some of the greatest footballers ever to have graced township football in the late sixties and seventies.
“A player like Timo Mwetuyela was just phenomenal and there were also other greats such as Cleophas ‘Siseva’ Siririka and the dribbling wizard George ‘Kanima’ Hoveka.”
Young Bush relocated to Katutura in 1959, and soon teamed up with boys from the Herero section to form their own soccer team which they named Thistles.
The team had well known young footballers in the mould of Napehari “Nape” Kavarure, Metusal Kaveumbua “Babes” Kangombe, Ndanduu Kaaheke, Jouie Peringanda and Hirukirua Tjaveondja.
“We embarked on several errands, from collecting empty bottles to spending long hours on the golf course as caddies where we earned a few pennies as tips. We put the money in one kitty with the profits from the empty bottles and bought a set of jerseys from Roetgen Outfitters.
“In the intervening years, the late Floyd ‘Kamaarijanda’ Maharero established the first ever football team in the Katutura Herero section and some of us jumped ship to join the new team, going by the name of Running Tiger.”
However, the team’s existence was short-lived because of the emergence of Eleven Explorer which left young Bush with no other option than to join Flames where he teamed up with the cream of the township’s most talented footballers from the Herero section, including the legendary Oscar “Silver Fox” Mengo.
In between, the boys formed their own teams competing in unofficial weekend tourneys and Bush found himself in the company of Mike “Panja” Murangi and the late pair of Justus “Kaika” Kuzee and Kaumbani Tjongarero in the star-studded Ehahe lineup.
“We used to compete against teams such as Golden and Try Again from the Nama location but the rivalry between Ehahe and Golden became so intense that it needed the elder folk to dismantle the two teams as it caused animosity amongst the players.
“There were so many good players in those days and believe me this is no joke, African Stars could field two teams in the same tournament with both capable of reaching the final – provided their path did not clash along the way,” boasted Bush.
Bush’s illustrious football career continued at the Augustineum High School where he rubbed shoulders with other established names such as Johannes “Kapuii” Angula, Lazarus Shikwambi, Capro Ngapurue, Asser Mbai, Michael Pienaar senior, Johny Veiko, Japhet Hellao and H.O. De Uirab, amongst others.
“As a ‘recruit’ (newcomer), I only played one match in the reserves against the more established guys and we managed to beat them by 2 goals to 1 and since that day I became a regular in the starting lineup of the first team. We played in several tournaments against established teams and always came out tops.”
Bush also turned out for the campus team Windhoek City where he had some fond memories. “We used to dominate most of the Inter-School competitions and apart from that I used to excel in both track and field athletics as well.
“From 1971 onwards, Stars had a more settled lineup after our tour to Upington, where we played two friendly matches against local teams and though we lost both games – we certainly learned a lot from that short tour because our tactical awareness improved tremendously.”
Bush was a member of the all-conquering African Stars team that won the Daves Cup in 1974. “That game will always remain stuck in my wildest dreams simply because I played the game of my life, and we went onto win the first ever competition on Namibian soil with a decent prize money at stake.”
Stars defeated Black Africa in the final by 3 goals to 2, with Africa’s Pius “Garrincha” Eigowab netting a brace on that memorable day.
“I joined Swanu in 1975 and hit the road to Botswana soon afterwards where I ended up in the refugee camp in Francistown. We formed a refugee team under the guidance of a South African chappie called Jerry, a nightclub owner.
“I was reunited with my home boys such as Alpha aka ‘Barry White’ Kangueehi, Mike ‘Panja’ Murangi, Dodge Tjiveta, Uanee Muundjua, Ngururume Katjiku and the late Kaumbani ‘Tjoli’ Tjongarero. We used to play against top local teams in the form of Tafic and Tafa and we always beat them in their own backyard.
“I then left Botswana for Zambia where I enrolled at the United Nations Institute for Namibia in Lusaka.” Bush continued his football career with the college team that was always pitted against their tutors and also trained with Lusaka Tigers before he left for Germany in 1979.
“In Germany, I also trained with a local team in Aldingen, south of Germany but my studies started to interfere with my football activities and I eventually called it a day.”
Despite some nasty incidents that occurred during his playing days, including the tragic death of Life Fighters’ speedy winger Tap Muriua, Bush looks back at his football career and says he has no regrets as football has taught him the values of life.
He singles out Hermann “Pele” Blaschke, Ben “Hikuepi” Kauejao, Isaac “Brown” Amwenye, Amos “Kavezeri” Tjombe and Oscar “Silver Fox” Mengo as the greatest footballers of his generation.
Bush could not resist a parting shot at his former club African Stars and put the blame for his team’s somewhat lukewarm showing in recent years squarely on the shoulders of its current administrators.
“African Stars are undoubtedly the best supported football entity in this country, yet they are the poorest – how do you explain such as situation?” he fumed.
“The current administrators don’t understand the culture of the team and need to rope in former players to guide them, especially in the technical department. The only players of note after our generation are Alfred “Juku” Tjazuko and Jackson “Kotjiuru” Meroro.”
Furthermore, Bush pleads with football administrators and all other stakeholders to invest in sport and encourage young talented footballers to take their education seriously.