Katutura glamour football club African Stars certainly stood the test of time back in the day. The Reds were on the brink of a break-up after an exodus of the club’s leading players who jumped ship to join the newly formed exciting Katutura outfit Explorer Eleven.
It was left to rookie squad member Obed Kamburona to keep the sinking ship afloat. The speedy right flanker defied the odds as he almost single-handedly steered the ship out of troubled waters with a skeleton squad of fairly average athletes, to say the least.
The Reds were dealt a deadly blow when the club’s most valuable asset Danger Sisirika led the club’s finest playing personnel to Explorer Eleven in the mid-sixties.
Baptised “Ovispoele” by its ardent followers, Explorer became the toast of domestic football, having assembled the crème de la crème of local footballers that included the dangerous striking force of Times Mwetuyela, Wherrick Zimmer and George Hoveka.
New Era Sport caught up with the much-adored “Captain Fantastic” as he reveals the Reds’ thorny journey when the team fought hard to restore some lost pride.
Bro Obby achieved the unthinkable taking the bull by the horns in a desperate bid to rescue his beloved Reds from going down the much-despised path of the dinosaur.
Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa
There are many people to whom Namibian football is indebted and must give special thanks.
But sadly those owed a great deal of gratitude have become forgotten heroes instead of having their names proudly engraved in the golden pages of our national archives and museums.
The beautiful game of football has not only produced excellent athletes on the field of play – it has also unearthed great men of character whose overall contribution towards the growth of the game has gone unnoticed.
One such athlete is former African Stars speedy winger Obed Kamburona, a one club man who spent his entire playing career with the Reds even during hard times.
The great philosopher Martin Luther King once said a man who is not prepared to die for his neighbour is not fit enough to be called a man, and went further noting that the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort but in times of challenges and controversy.
Does one need to be reminded or look further to conclude that bra Obby fits the bill perfectly well?
Well, the brother took it upon his tiny shoulders to revive the ailing fortunes of his beloved “Stalile” when a significant chunk of the club’s stalwarts left the club in search of greener pastures elsewhere.
Club stalwart and the team’s finest footballer, the versatile Siririka, led the defectors tailed by Kanima Hoveka, Willy Katjimbotjo Kavari, Floyd Maharero and the Kariko siblings Joe and Dickson.
Born in Windhoek’s old location on the 2nd of February 1942, Obby was exposed to the dog eat dog city life at an early age.
He started schooling at Omaueozonjanda near his native village Otjimanangombe in the Eupkiro district in 1952, the same year African Stars was formed.
It was at primary school that bro Obby started flirting with the spherical object showing flashes of exceptional talent way belying his young age.
Hardly out of his pair of shorts, Obby and boyhood buddy Dawid Ndjoze were selected for the school football team. However, it was not before he resurfaced in the city of lights (Windhoek) that he started showing glimpses of individual brilliance.
“Growing up in the old location was a bit tricky and quite a challenging experience with no recreational facilities. That left us with no other option than chasing leather just to while away time.
“We used to kick around with a plastic ball or hardened tennis balls in the dusty streets, sometimes competing fiercely in stake games at the Rhenisch Herero School sports field,” recalls Obby.
As a result of the segregation system imposed by the South African apartheid regime, using every trick in the book of tricks to play the divide and rule game, residents were systematically placed in portions of tribal clans.
This practice necessitated the more streetwise boys from the Ovambanderu section to organize exhibition matches against their counterparts from the Ovaherero location.
“On rare occasions, we would combine to challenge a picked side from the Ovambo section for stake games, kind of the winner takes it all system with two shillings (20 cents) as prize money at stake.”
However, when local academic the late Ben Tunguru Huaraka came up with a proposal to form a new football team upon his return from studies in South Africa in 1955, things started to take new shape for the football-crazy Obed.
“He (Huaraka) teamed up with Charles Kauraisa to form a football club going by the name of Home Defenders and most of the boys joined the fray.”
It was not long before the team folded with the majority of the playing personnel finding refuge with African Stars. As fate would have it, tragedy struck when seven of the club’s best players left to join the newly formed Katutura outfit Explorer Eleven in 1960.
It was a very sad chapter for the pride of the Ovaherero-speaking old location inhabitants but bro Obby would have none of that. He took it upon himself to steer the sinking ship out of troubled waters and somehow managed to assemble a squad from scratch.
Apart from Obby, a few other blokes from the original Stars line-up in the shape of Justus Katume Handura, Festus Katjikuru, Levy Komomungondo and Usiel Uakundja Tjarera also put their shoulders to the wheel to resurrect the ailing fortunes of the club.
The club scrambled around and brought a significant number of youngsters on board led by Mike Pack, Cosky Ngaizuvare, Amos Tjombe, Tjatjitua Katjiteo, James Vetoorora Muundjua, Bob Vepi Kauapirura, the Hei brothers Maihi and Kierrie, Seth Kaimu, Willem ‘Scage” Kandjiriomuini, Raonga “Rhoo” Mbaeva, Meundju Kakunde, Ripuree Hoveka, Gustav “Chope” Kauazunda, Hijambura Ndjahera, Bertholdt Tjiundje, Petrus Mazenge, Aphas Koviuana Katjivirue, Epson “Omburu Japako” Kapuire and Alex Kaikai Vekarapi.
Stars toured the country competing in exhibition matches and knockout cup tourneys in Okahandja, Gobabis, Okakarara, Otjiwarongo and Grootfontein.
These escapades were sandwiched by a tour across the border to Upington, South Africa that saw the Reds playing exhibition matches in one weekend.
The weakened new-look outfit won all three matches including a nail-biting 1-0 triumph against a Pabalello invitational side. Burly youngster Kaika Kuzee netted the solitary goal, tucking away Obby’s well-weighted delivery from the right wing.
Back home, Stars got some revenge by defeating the ‘untouchable’ and yet to be beaten Explorer Eleven in front of a large crowd in a fiercely contested friendly at the Katutura municipal stadium.
“Sensing that most of their best players were absent, we went full steam bamboozling their goal with long range shots from all angles.”
In the absence of regular goalie Tommy Jarman, Explorer fielded the late talkative Maxi Nguendu Mbaha, of “Vlamme-Vlamme Jateja Ozondavi” fame, in goal on the day.
The fired-up wounded Reds seized the opportunity and deservedly scored two unanswered goals to win the contest 2-0 – to reclaim the bragging rights, ultimately bringing an abrupt end to Explorer’s short-lived reign.
The result would go down in history books as the final straw on the camel’s back as Explorer folded immediately afterwards with the majority of the playing personnel backtracking to their respective former clubs.
In the intervening years, the birth of Otjiwarongo outfit Life Fighters injected what would become an eternal feud between the Reds and “Okahirona” with the two giants battling it out for tribal supremacy.
The first meeting between the two eternal rivals ended in 1-all stalemate in Otjiwarongo with the late beanpole Tjomunue ‘Sholly” Tjipepa stationed between the sticks for the visitors.
During his tenure as Stars’ captain, bro Obby was rated highly and spoken of in the same breath as former Blue Waters/Eleven Arrows’ fast as lightning winger Tommy Ushona.
His near faultless display week in and week out convinced the national selectors to call him up for trials in Walvis Bay.
Sadly, he missed the trials thus losing out for a place in the South West Africa (SWA) Bantu Invitational side’s marathon rail journey to South Africa in 1968.
Despite the setback, bro Obby found some consolation as his clever play down the right wing propelled Stars to claim three knockout cups
As fate would have it, a career-threatening knee injury obliged bro Obby to prematurely call it a day while still at the pinnacle of his flourishing football career in the mid 70’s.
In his own words, he has no regrets about his involvement in the game and still cherishes some unforgettable moments, recalling his endless battles with his boyhood buddy and classmate, the late Tiwes Mbako.
“Tiwes was a tricky customer to deal with, a very intelligent defender who possessed phenomenal positional play second to none.”
Bro Obby holds former Cape Cross, Explorer Eleven and Pirates’ (Dolam) explosive forward Wherrick Zimmer in high regard while he could not hide his admiration for former Jungle Boys and Ramblers (Katutura) ball juggler, //Nerab //Noas Gariseb.
“That boy was a marvel to watch – he could do all sorts tricks with the ball glued to his feet. He was a nightmare to defenders – he was a damn good finisher who packed a decent shot in his left foot.”