A RESERVOIR of ice-cold water erected next to the Sybil Bowker cinema and community hall deep in the heart of a black ghetto area on the outskirts of a gradually expanding ‘white city’ at the time that led to the forcible bloody removal of people from what is now known as the Hochland Park suburb to the apartheid creation of what we nowadays generally refer to as Katutura township – the reservoir mentioned at the beginning, offered cold water to us, thirsty, young soccer players during half-time and full-time of a match on a hot summer day in Windhoek.
On a hot summer day in Windhoek’s Old Location, boys of different age groups used to be seen running around playing soccer, at times using a tennis ball. They were mostly bare-chested; believing that dressing like that would somehow chill them. There were only two communal ‘bathrooms’, one located near the municipal offices and the second one somewhere in the Damara One section of the ghetto, where we could have a ‘shower’ particularly in summer.
The communal bathrooms were used by both adults and children, but not simultaneously though, and children had to wait until the grown-ups had finished and we would then quickly storm in to wash our bodies. We could also not keep our shirts on when playing soccer near the Sybil Bowker Hall and that was easily solved in the absence of jerseys. One team would take their shirts off and the other team would keep theirs on and that enabled the players and the referee to clearly distinguish as to who was who on the pitch.
When we were younger, we did not need a referee for everyone on the pitch was ‘referee’ in his own right; one or more people would shout “handball” or “off-side” and so the game went on. Our teams would score more than five or six goals during an encounter! Therefore, before the start of such a game, we would agree that when one side scored two goals that would mark half-time and when the winning team scores four that would be hurray … the end of the match, in order to allow other teams to have an opportunity to play too.
At times, some teams were so strong that we would play for more than an hour with no scores and when that happened, we would decide that when someone scores from either side, it would be half-time and when that team scores again, the match is over – we also played to a draw sometimes. Soccer matches were not an everyday event because there were other tasks to be performed at home too.
On Mondays for instance after school, some of us would have to go to the white residential area to collect laundry to be washed and ironed on Tuesdays and to be delivered late afternoon, when the white bachelors are back at their homes or bachelor flats. Our soccer teams have given birth to famous players – too many to mention. One of this country’s famous Tigers and national goalkeeper, Nandos Mbako, is such a product.
By Mvula ya Nangolo