Boas Tjingaete, the football-playing pastor-turned traditional leader

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Windhoek

When Katutura glamour football club African Stars won the coveted Mainstay Cup through Oscar Mengo’s looping header for a record-extending win in the country’s most coveted knockout cup competition in 1984, they had in their armoury a young defender going by the name of Boas Bowie Tjingaete, aka Roree.

The side was in transformation with a significant number of the old guard paving the way for a number of untested youngsters. Blessed with amazing pace, clean in the tackle, discipline, anticipation, vision and never-say-die attitude, Bowie was doubtlessly a notch above his peers.

He was to become a pillar of strength in th e heart of Stars defence partnering the seemingly irreplaceable Albert Tjihero in the heart of defence.

Son of the late traditional leader and astute politician Eliphas Tjingaete, Bowie was destined for the bigger stage and was determined to emulate the feats of elder siblings Fanuel (boxing), Rukee (football) and Ephraim (boxing), who were all noted athletes in their own right.

Apart from football, the multi-talented Bowie was also a menace on the athletic track where he reigned supreme in the 100 and 200-metre sprints as well as the triple jump.

His genes appear to have successfully trickled down to his elder son Pat-Nevin Uanivi, incumbent captain of African Stars. Younger brother Mclean also played competitive football at junior level.

In today’s edition of your favourite weekly feature, Tales of the Legends, New Era Sport goes toe to toe with the former Reds versatile defender, as he relives his memoirs on the beautiful game.

Bowies reveals his biggest regret by rejecting a lucrative offer to turn professional and how his teammate, Overseas Tjongarero hastened his departure from the game.

Although Boas Roree Tjingaete was born in Windhoek’s Old Location in 1960, the brother is literally a Bwujong (village boy) in township slang.

This is simply because he has never lived in kassie to experience first hand the hardships of apartheid, learning the finest tricks on how to look after oneself in tight situations.

After retiring from the game at the fairly advanced age of 34, the likable Bowie embarked on a different path as opposed to many footballers. He resolved to serve the Almighty – only to resurface as a traditional leader following in his old man’s footsteps.

Bowie was installed as the traditional chief of the Otjombinde Constituency, succeeding the late Chief Tumbee Tjombe. Ironically, the latter’s predecessor was the late Eliphas Tjingaete, Bowie’s old man.

Bowie is a household name among the local folklore and will not only be remembered for his football prowess but more importantly for his commitment towards spreading the Word of God and being an ambassador for Namibian football. He also made his mark in neighbouring South Africa playing for the University football team.

Nowadays, a man of the cloth, Bowie was an uncompromising defender on the playing field who hated losing. He has won almost everything there was to win in the game; Mainstay Cup medals, Castle Classic Cup, Metropolitan Cup, League Championships.

His astonishing leadership qualities propelled him to be elected captain of the University of North Qwaqwa-Qwaqwa Branch football team and in later years, the resident team, Left & Right FC at Pietersburg College, where he played alongside homeboy Lawrence Nunuu Kaimu.

Growing up in the Epukiro reserve, Bowie showed glimpses of superiority and talent way belying his tender age as a young athlete, excelling in both football and track athletics, during his formative years at the Epukiro Post 3 Higher Primary School in Omaue Ozonjanda.

He rose to prominence when he went to further his academic aspirations at the popular St Josephs Secondary School (Dobra) in 1977. Bowie found himself with London City after the customary weird ritual of lottery to determine in which teams new recruits would be incorporated into.

“I was a complete unknown entity when I arrived at Dobra, Shorty Kamburona was the only dude who knew me. I joined London City where I played with the likes of George Martin, Lawrence Uri-Khob, Pascal Nekwaya, Safe Ochurub, Frans Kazimbu, Indies Damaseb, Casel Howaeb, Blue Karimbue, Samani Kamerika, Mannetjie Kanguvi and another chirpy going by the name of Garrincha,” recalls Bowie.

Bowie was your typical old-fashioned centre forward, who gave defenders very little breathing space with his amazing pace, accompanied by his canon-like shots from any range. It was while at City that he was to be converted into a centre back.

“I can’t exactly remember what actually transpired, but I can vividly recall that one day ahead of a match, no one was prepared to play at centre back, so I was asked to fill in and as it turned out, I played a blinder on that particular day, stopping marauding strikers right in their tracks as they could not get past me because of my speed.”

After one season with the school’s second string, Bowie deservedly earned promotion to the school’s star-studded first team the following year. In the meantime, he would juggle his time between football, athletics and boxing under the tutelage of the great George Mukuahima.

As fate would dictate, he was obliged to choose between boxing and football and went for the latter. “I really enjoyed boxing but the mere fact that it was not very popular beyond school halls, I decided on football.”

However, his lodging at Dobra was to be unceremoniously abbreviated when he jumped ship to relocate to bitter rivals Augustineum High School.

“For some strange reasons and out of the blue, hostel authorities resolved to increase hostel fees but shockingly, this practice was only applicable to non-Catholic students, so we felt discriminated against and unwelcome, so I decided to leave.”

Upon his arrival at Augustineum in 1979, Bowie joined an average Windhoek City team and his presence coincided with that of former African Stars blue-eyed boy Juku Tjazuko.

The acquisition of Bowie had the desired results, as it strengthen the previously fragile squad as he tormented defenders with his amazing pace while his unbelievable goal-scoring prowess caught the eye of talent scouts. Unlike at Dobra where he first had to prove himself, Bowie walked straight into the school’s first team but was soon converted to the centre back position after just three matches at the recommendation of Willy Hindjou, a former teammate from Dobra.

Bowie announced his arrival at centre back with an outstanding display in City’s 2-all draw against the visiting Sorento Bucks.   

His near faultless performance did not go unnoticed as the fast as lightning defender was immediately snapped up by African Stars in 1980 where he started out for their second string before gaining promotion to the senior team the following season.

After completing school, Bowie took his studies to a different level enrolling at the Orange Free State Theological College to read towards a degree in Geology.

Unfortunately for the football-crazy student, the beautiful game was some kind of taboo at the learning institution with rugby taking preference. “I was disappointed and badly wanted to relocate to the University of the North but authorities would have none of that.

“It was at the time when Kandas Paulino was studying in Zululand and when he became aware that I was in Bethlehem, he tried to persuade me to go over there but all his efforts were in vain”.

Bowie later got his wish and relocated to Pietersburg and played for the university team Left & Right FC where he established himself as a valuable team leader.

Talent scouts from PSL giants Jomo Cosmos FC spotted him and desperately wanted to sign him straight away but the thinly framed Namibian refused point blank, as he feared such a move would interfere with his studies.

“Up to this day, it’s one stupid decision I regret wholeheartedly. In all honesty, I was actually put off by the vast travelling distance between Johannesburg and Pietersburg to attend training sessions but have since realised it was a grave error of judgment”.

Back home, Bowie enjoyed unsurpassed success with boyhood team Stars, leading the Reds to several triumphs in various competitions during a flourishing football career that spun over a decade.

He rubbed shoulders with highly rated international stars playing against visiting teams such as Hellenic, Arcadia Shepherds, Mamelodi United, Moroka Swallows, Ace Mates and the Birds. Bowie also toured Kimberly and Boputhatswana.  Roree

However, his exit from the game that took him beyond the borders of his native land left a sting in the tail. “I never wanted to reveal my decision as to why I quit football but the naked truth is that I was forced by circumstances to make an unplanned bow from the game.

In his own words, Stars were under pressure in a particular match and one of his teammates Overseas (Tjongarero) was playing at a pedestrian pace.

“I tried to reprimand the boy but he responded by telling me in no uncertain terms where to get off via a completely impolite hand gesture. That was the defining moment, so I decided to walk away.

“In my entire football career, I’ve played with senior players, Oscar, George (Gariseb) and Albert. I would at times shout at them when the going gets tough but they never showed me any dissent, so I could not stomach being disrespected by a young lad.”

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