The life and moments of a forgotten football legend

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Lost & found, Ruben ‘Ruby’ Kamulu

Those who care to remember that particular day when the visiting star-studded Kaizer Eleven under the stewardship of a deadly left-footed big-framed bloke going by the name of Kaizer Motaung mauled the SWA Central Invitational XI at the old Katutura stadium in Windhoek in 1969, would gladly recall that local football officials were obliged to tiptoe all the way to Swakopmund through the night for reinforcements.

Although the Central outfit was well balanced with some of the finest footballers in the business – the team lacked cohesion and athletes with personality.

It was obvious that the lethal Atlanta Chiefs pair of Hermann ‘Pele’ Blaschke and Ruben ‘Ruby’ Kamulu would be just what the good doctor ordered.

The inevitable presence of the afro-haired pair of Blaschke and Kamulu inspired the local amateurs as they ran rings around their more fancied South African opponents who were reduced to a pale shadow of the team that toyed with the opposition the day before.

The visitors were taught a football lesson in the three matches slated for Sunday in front of a packed to rafters Katutura stadium with Orlando Pirates lethal marksman Ishmael ‘Lemmy Special’ Narib netting four goals in each of the three matches.

Motaung and his charges had seen enough – they immediately invited the local trident of Blaschke, Kamulu and chief destroyer on that particular day Narib, to join forces with the newly formed black and orange strip Soweto outfit.

Though both Blaschke and Narib heeded the call, Kamulu would have none of that and remained put. The bow-legged boy from Mondesa was generally regarded as the most versatile athlete of his generation.

He would often operate from centre back, midfield or on the wing while he regularly registered his name on the score sheet on several occasions – courtesy of his ferocious shots from range.

Contrary to a long-held false belief that bro Ruby has long gone West, New Era Sport established that the bow-legged likeable playmaker is still very much alive and kicking. Well, we finally managed to locate the light-skinned athlete through our confidantes.

By public demand New Era Sport unleashes the unrevealed flawless football journey of one of the finest footballers to have graced the shores of domestic football.

“An amazing talent” is how his former Atlanta Chiefs team-mate, Pele Blaschke, would describe Ruby, citing him as the finest all-rounder he has ever played with apart from his Kaizer Chiefs team-mate the legendary Ace Ntsoelengoe.

Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa

Windhoek-History would reveal that back in the day, football teams from the coastal towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund dominated domestic football to the extent that footballers from inland would resurface down at sea level to seek greener pastures.

The likes of Blue Waters, Eleven Arrows, Namib Woestyn (Walvis Bay), Atlanta Chiefs and Blue Boys (Swakopmund) attracted a significant chunk of the finest talent on offer, with young highly gifted footballers descending en masse on the emerging harbour town for better job opportunities.

The exciting Mondesa Atlanta Chiefs outfit was the envy of many a neutral football fan, simply because of the kind of attractive football that seasiders dished out during the popular knockout cup tourneys, notably in the city of lights (Windhoek).

Besides Blaschke and Kamulu, the coastal side was blessed with a phenomenal squad laden with the likes of Alpheus Gaweseb, Kaningandu Masilo, Issaskar Vezeperauina Kamara and a horde of other highly talented athletes.

In the absence of proper league structures, football teams would engage in knockout cup tourneys in towns such as Tsumeb, Okahandja, Windhoek, Keetmanshoop, Karibib, Gobabis, Otjiwarongo, Usakos, Swakopmund, Mariental and Walvis Bay.

Although footballers were extremely loyal towards their respective clubs the best athletes were always in high demand and would sporadically feature for other teams as guest players whenever their teams were not in action.

Born on the 18th of May 1945 in Swakopmund, Ruby was no exception to this rule and would occasionally turn out for Kuisebmond giants Blue Waters FC as guest player.
The bow-legged light-skinned versatile footballer, an all-rounder whose looks resembled that of legendary rock star Elvis Presley, was arguably the most recognizable footballer of his generation.

He was a valuable squad member of the South West Africa (SWA) Bantu Invitational side that toured South Africa in 1968 for several exhibition matches against local teams in Soweto (Johannesburg), Bloemfontein, Pretoria, Hammanskraal, Rustenburg, Pretoria and Vereniging.

Ruby started in all matches on that tour and was on the field when the visitors were subjected to all kind of racial discrimination during their Bloemfontein leg as they found themselves reduced to ball boys by their white counterparts.

Inspired by the late Tigers FC forward dribbling wizard Times Mwetuyela and Wherrick Uerivara Zimmer-Goraseb, the SWA Bantu Eleven ran rings around the Free State Police Invitation and were six goals to the good in the opening 20 minutes.

The clearly out of sorts Cops just had had enough of the embarrassment and resolved to order their superior opponents no longer to take aim at goal from the opposition’s half.
“We were ordered in no uncertain terms to shoot from the centre line while we were also obliged to pick up stray balls for throw-ins and goal kicks whenever the ball went out of touch,” revealed former Tigers FC stalwart Coloured Kakololo (late), a member of the touring squad during an interview with New Era Sport.

Surprisingly the 20-man touring entourage (including two officials) was depleted after two of its squad members developed itchy feet halfway through the journey.
The pair chokingly disembarked in Keetmanshoop from the long rail journey en route to Johannesburg, South Africa – citing homesickness.

“The team was stationed in the men’s hostel at the Orlando stadium in Soweto and would remain in South Africa for almost three months competing against local teams in several exhibition matches that drew large crowds,” recalls Bossie Samaria.

What made Ruby shine brighter than others was his light skin visibility since in those days light-skinned athletes were in short supply. Some of the names that spring to mind were Philemon da Costa (B Waters), Freek Samaria (Eleven Arrows), Mannetjie Tjikune (Red Fire), Kauru Billhawer (Red Bees), Epson Kapuire (A Stars), Wherrick Zimmer (Cape Cross), Albert Louw (BA), Purikie Vorster (Tigers) and Thomas Losper (O Pirates).

Apart from representing the SWA Bantu Eleven on a regular basis, Ruby’s name was always first on the selection list of the star-studded Western Invitational Eleven.

He was spoken of in the same breath as Gabes ‘Flying Fish’ Mupupa, Tommy Ushona, Wherrick Zimmer, Times Mwetuyela, Lemmy Narib, Nerab Gariseb, Pele Blaschke, Nangi ‘Watch’ Nickel and Engelhard Gariseb to mention but a few.

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