Ode to a forgotten icon, Ringo Nakanuku 1943-1994


The coastal harbour town of Walvis Bay has always produced characters of its own with aspiring young footballers adopting all sorts of names, ranging from Bonnetti, Riva, Sadike, Moripe, Motwan to Govola, Ranga, Britho, Sparks, Bazooka, Karassa, Lemmy, Bomber and all sorts of others inherited from elite footballers plying their trade in top leagues, notably Italy and South Africa.

However, these names were not only restricted to footballers but would be taken a bit further into the music industry.

Back in the 60s, the city of Liverpool was best known for having delivered one of the finest pop bands of all time in the shape of the Beatles – a four-piece musical ensemble that had the world at its feet with some breathtaking tunes.

Although the band was fronted by songwriters-cum-lead-vocalists John Lennon (guitar), Paul McCartney (bass), and George Harrison (lead guitar and harmonies) – drummer Ringo Starr uncharacteristically captured the imagination of many of the band’s followers.

Many young boys in those days would style themselves on the hippy-lookalike Beatle (Ringo), gladly adopting his name with a certain measure of pride.

Former Eleven Arrows and Blue Waters football clubs’ attacking midfielder (No. 10) Stephanus Nakanuku was among those fascinated by the young man behind the skins, Ringo, happily adopting the name that stuck with him until he took a bow from the game of life in 1994.

New Era Sport relives the life story of the immaculately dressed late Ringo Nakanuku, a true gentleman on and off the field, as we unpack the untold tale of his contribution to the rise of the ‘Beautiful Birds’ during his tenure as a lethal goal poacher.


The northern town of Grootfontein is arguably the biggest supplier of great footballers with many of them having made names for themselves with top teams around the country.

Besides Black Africa, another football team that has benefited immensely from highly gifted footballers from that neck of the woods is doubtlessly coastal outfit Blue Waters.

The likes of Jerry Shikongo, McBride Kayele Kambombo, Jerry Tobias, Ringo Nakanuku and dozens of other top athletes were all products from the dusty Omulunga township.

Born Stephanus Nakanuku to Andreas Imalwa and Loise Nakanuku in Grootfontein on the 28th of July 1943, young Ringo started playing street football in his hometown.

And by the time he arrived at the revered Augustineum High School in the garden town of Okahandja to further his studies, Ringo had become a founder member of the OV Land FC – a team comprising of predominantly Oshiwambo-speaking athletes residing at the school hostel.

After leaving school, Ringo relocated to Walvis Bay in the 70’s. Upon his arrival in the harbour town, he hooked up with Namibia’s own first darkish-hide popular car racing driver, Lukas ‘Oupapa’ Hipondoka, aka ‘Etenda’ or better still ‘Ou Shommie’.

The latter took the shy rookie with boyish looks under his wing, showing him the ropes on how to manoeuvre his way around a big town.

In those days, if you were not from the city of lights (Windhoek), arriving at sea level, one would be labeled a ‘moegoe’ – somebody in dire need of some refinement to tie in with the self-proclaimed wide-awake streetwise boys in the neighbourhood.

Ringo hit the ground running as he found himself being a slave (employment) at Shell Petroleum Company, working with his high school buddy Oupapa as well as Pari Shekupe. However, he resigned soon afterwards to take up new employment with Distillers.

In the meantime, the fleet-footed football crazy Ringo joined Kuisebmond outfit Eleven Arrows. Here he teamed up alongside Killa Samaria and Dead Wood pop band’s lead vocalist, Tara Shimbuli, among others.

He skippered the maroon-and-gold strip outfit to the final of the Oscar Norich annual tourney in Tsumeb in 1973 – to set up a thrilling spectacle against eternal rivals Blue Waters.

As fate would dictate, the match was shifted to Walvis Bay after darkness had set in. Blue Waters won the rescheduled tie 4-2 in a six-goal thriller at the Kuisebmond stadium.

It was not long before the left-footed midfielder developed itchy feet, jumping ship to join forces with Arrows’ eternal rivals Blue Waters – much to the disgust of his teammates, who despised his move, boldly labelling him a betrayer while also calling him all sorts of derogatory names, including the infamous tag of Judas Iscariot.

Ringo would not budge and in no time the Grootfontein-born lad had established himself as a valuable squad member of the high-flying Birds.

His circle of celebrated teammates were Pari, Oupapa, Ranga Lucas, Theu Amadhila, Kaputji Kuhanga, Josephat ‘Moripe’ Jekonia, Jerry Shikongo, Hans ‘Alu’ Hummel, Simon ‘Motwa’ Mwandingi, Riva Jekonia, Lemmy Lazarus, Zondi Amadhila, Dacosta Philemon, Kapuii Angula, Kayele Kambombo and agile shot-stopper Bonnetti Niilenge, among a galaxy of stars.

The fast-galloping flat-footed attacking midfielder was to form the spine of the invincible Blue Waters outfit and oversaw several generations coming and going at his new club.

In 1974, Ringo tied the knot with his gorgeous sweetheart Hedwig Nangula Tobias, a lass from the tiny mountainous town of Usakos in the vast Erongo Region. She bore him two bubbling daughters, Julietha and Louisa.

Ringo also had a son Grey Karimbue from a previous relationship whom his loving wife has brought up alongside her younger sister Irene Simeon. The latter would follow in her stepdad’s footsteps and currently owns the Engen One Stop Usakos Service Station in her hometown.

The usually calculated Ringo went on to win almost every available piece of silverware there was to be won with Blue Waters and will certainly go down in history as one of the deadliest left-footed strikers of his generation.

With time passing by and getting a bit long in the tooth, Ringo became heavily involved in the struggle for Namibia’s independence. He was among the few that systematically carried out underground activities from within their native land.

The brother would risk his life and that of his family by transporting political activists and canvassing support for the liberation movement Swapo with Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Arandis, Usakos, Omaruru and Karibib his preferred happy hunting grounds.

In 1982, Ringo relocated to the northern part of the country resettling in Oshakati where he lived until his untimely death. Sadly, the likeable Ringo exited the game of life on the 3rd of September 1994, aged 51. May his soul rest in peace.

















Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here