Death has struck the Namibian football fraternity for the umpteenth time following the sad passing of former St Stephanus Secondary School (Dobra) and Black Africa Football Club flying winger, Immanuel Xarab Gariseb.
It has been without an iota of doubt proven time and again that left-handed people possess extraordinary skills as they have developed a habit of turning everything they lay their hands on into gold.
From Diego Maradona, Jimmy Hendrix, Albert Einstein, Lionel Messi to Kaizer Motaung, Romelu Lukaku, Fana Zulu, Bekhi Khoza, not forgetting our own locals Norries Goraseb, Brazzo Khomusab, Ben Gaseb, George Martin, Kandas Paulino, Lucky Richter, Times Mwetuyela, Deon Hotto-Kavendjii and Querra Jacobs, as well as many others who were all masters of the art in their own right in their respective chosen trades and professions.
This inevitably invites the much-avoided question, what do left-handed human beings and par excellence have in common? Retired footballer, one Immanuel Xarab Gariseb, falls perfectly into this sphere.
The much-adored speedy left-footed winger mesmerized and bamboozled robust defenders with amazing speed, skill and rare ability to squeeze his body past tight defences.
He was the chief catalyst in Black Africa’s yet to be matched dominance in domestic knockout cup competitions between the eighties and nineties as his goals steered the star-studded Katutura outfit to greater heights.
Sadly, the humorous brother exited the game of life after losing a marathon battle with a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and gout.
Xarab rose to prominence when he joined forces with boyhood team BA as a raw young pupil from the St Joseph’s Secondary School (Dobra). The much-adored flying winger took a bow from the game of life in a Windhoek hospital on Monday.
Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa
Windhoek-Elepathic unbelievable partnership of Moses “Croocks” Casper, George Martin, Abraham “Speed-trap” Goeieman, Hassie Mingeri and Xarab Gariseb is arguably the most lethal striking force in the history of domestic football.
Born Immanuel Xarab Gariseb in the Cattle Country (Gobabis) on January 11, 1956, Xarab was just like many other boys his age and started chasing inflated plastic bags (home-made balls) with his buddies from the neighbourhood to while away time after school in the afternoons.
In the intervening years, he arrived at the famous St Joseph’s Secondary School (Dobra) north-east of Namibia’s capital Windhoek to further his studies.
Whilst at Dobra, he started to showcase his God-given talent as a noted athlete. Blessed with amazing pace complemented by a delicious left foot, great footwork and a damn good eye for goal, Xarab used to mesmerize robust defenders with sheer class whilst demonstrating football virtuosity second to none.
It was not long before those around him took note of his football magic as he was duly drafted into the school’s star-studded first team where he was to rub shoulders with established footballers at the school hostel.
Some of his celebrated team-mates were: Blue Karimbue, Albert Karumbu Kahiha, Max “Zoda” Johnson, Ghenno Himarwa, Albert Tjihero, Siegfried Kamukuju Tjiho, Samani Kaamerika, Stu Damaseb, Lewa Awaseb, Erich Khari-axab Lamberth, Ephraim Riruako, George Martin and Alex “Sandro” Ndjahera, amongst a galaxy of stars.
Former room-mate at the hostel and boyhood buddy, Blue Karimbue, describes the late Xarab as a cool mild-mannered fellow from humble beginnings.
“I played alongside him at club level with Eusebio Eleven, a hostel team, and later in the school first team.
“Xarab was a highly gifted athlete with blistering pace and combined exceptionally well with George Martin on the left flank. The two of them would exchange positions intermittently during hotly contested matches as they both played together for the same club and school team,” recalls Blue.
History would reveal that Katutura giants Black Africa benefited immensely from the rich talent available at Dobra, recruiting most of their finest young footballers from the unofficial school of excellence with satisfying results.
So, it was obvious that the fast rising Xarab would follow suit as he joined forces with the giants of domestic football.
His arrival at the Gemengde outfit coincided with the club’s inevitable transformation as the club was obliged to overhaul the ageing squad of the Tibinyane siblings Spokes and Victor, Hubert Mootseng, Willy “Baba” Jackson, aka Basson, Black Kangootui and a few others, with Albert Louw, Five Hochobeb and Mike Hans the only survivors from the old guard.
Xarab joined a group of highly gifted young footballers from Dobra led by Five Hochobeb, Gabes Dausab, Hassie Mingeri, Corrie Uri-Khob, Vossie van Wyk, Laurens Uri-Khob, Stu Damaseb, Cakes Naobeb, Hannes Louw and George Martin.
In no time, he managed to carve himself a regular starting berth in the star-studded BA squad.
Xarab went on to claim every single available silverware there was to be won and was part of the invincible Black Africa side that swept their opponents aside in knockout cup competitions, ultimately earning them the famous tag “Kings of Cups”.
In the meantime, Xarab would occasionally turn out for his home town team Eastern Chiefs during the unofficial but hotly contested knockout cup tournaments at the sandy Epako field in Gobabis – much to the delight of the large crowds gathered in the Cattle Country to watch their football heroes in action.