… gives each athlete a cow
Tsandi – Uukwaluudhi King Hosiya Shikongo Taapopi on Saturday hosted a colourful and funfilled traditional ceremony in honour of Namibia’s Paralympic heroes Ananias Shikongo and Johannes Nambala, where he congratulated and welcomed the two athletes to the Uukwaluudhi Palace at Onalushwa Village.
Shikongo, who scooped three medals (one gold and two bronze) at this year’s Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Nambala, who clinched two silver medals at the same event, both presented their medals to the king and the entire community gathered at the palace to pay tribute the two athletes.
The festivities attracted a huge number of people from the surrounding villages and school children who wanted to take a glance at the medals.
“As part of our traditions and customs we had to present our medals and other accolades to our tribal king as a sign of respect. In the past when our forefathers had to return home from urban areas they would usually present the king with some gifts as a token of appreciation, so we are just doing the same,” said Nambala, who is also a grandchild of King Taapopi.
The two athletes also gave the Taapopi their official Paralympic portraits that depicts the two athletes in action during the Rio Games.
Shikongo recalled his journey with Nambala from the dusty streets of Ongwediva, where they both started their school careers at Eluwa Special School. Although Shikongo was two grades ahead of Nambala this did not hamper them from being good friends up to this day as the two still share a one-roomed shack in Windhoek.
“This was a good year for us. We were a total of 10 athletes that represented Namibia in Rio, but only the two of us managed to come back with medals,” said Shikongo.
Shikongo urged the students and other youngsters in attendance to work hard, irrespective of their cicumstances and to avoid alcohol and other social evils that have the potential to destroy their potential.
Shikongo further informed the gathering that he is the first male athlete to return with a gold medal from the Paralympics, hence there is a need for others to follow in his footsteps.
In his remarks, King Taapopi thanked Nambala and Shikongo for honouring the traditions and custom of the Uukwaluudhi people, saying it was also his first time to touch a gold medal.
The king urged the two athletes to keep working hard and keep flying the Namibian flag high on the international arena. To the approval of those in attendance, the king then announced that he will give each athlete a cow as a token of appreciation, before the athletes were treated to a delicious meal.
The two athletes recently also scooped big awards at the 2016 Namibia Sports Awards. Shikongo was also awarded N$500 000 by Standard Bank to build a house with, while the House of Joy Ministries gave him a Toyota bakkie as a token of appreciation.
On Friday, the two also visited their former school, Eluwa Special School, where Nambala opened a Gym, which he sponsored with equipment to the value of N$10 000.