Understandably, the mere mentioning of “Aunt Rickey” will immediately put those in sporting circles on alert that she is the mother of Namibia’s internationally acclaimed sprinter Frank Fredericks.
Nonetheless, as much as Frank’s genes dictated that he would become a noted athlete, Aunt Rickey herself was a multi-talented athlete way back before Frank became a household name in domestic football and international athletics.
The author had the privilege of knowing the humorous sports crazy Aunt Rickey closely since my Kamashona days.
Despite trying all tricks in the book of tricks in an effort to ink the sports journey and unmatched commitment of Aunt Rickey towards sports development – she would have of none of that.
She politely declined the request and advances, saying that I should only write about her profile when she has exited the game of life as she took it for granted that I was properly equipped for that task in telling her prolific journey in sports without her valuable input.
Aunt Rickey was a pioneer of sports and played a hand in the establishment and ultimate recognition of tennis amongst the marginalized Bantus in Apartheid South West Africa’s (SWA) largest residential area for darkish hide residents Katutura, back in the day.
Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa
Walvis Bay-The country’s sports fraternity woke up to the sad news when word started doing the rounds that one of Namibia’s most unheralded heroines has taken a bow from the game of life.
As it has become customary practice to honour departed sports heroes and heroines, New Era Sport is obliged to pay homage to one of Namibia’s great athletes of all time in possibly the most dignified fashion.
Simply known as “Aunt Rickey” in netball, tennis and football circles, Aunt Rickey was born in the tiny north-west town of Outjo on the 5th of April 1940. Aunt Rickey was literally born with a silver spoon in the mouth, turning every piece of object she touched into gold.
Her astonishing good looks defied her competitive edge and amazing winning mentality on the sports field. A woman who strictly lived on a sporting diet, she was without an iota of doubt one of the most recognizable sports personalities in domestic sport.
An uncompromising pioneer of sport, Aunt Rickey, as she was fondly known in sports circles amongst her adoring followers, was the biological mother to internationally acclaimed sprinting sensation, Frank Fredericks.
A staunch Black Africa Sports Club supporter and long serving executive committee member of the Gemengde outfit stretching over decades, Aunt Rickey has made her mark in the wider domestic sports arena.
She played a significant role in the development of tennis and was at the forefront of local netball alongside Marlie Snyman (window of SWA rugby side shrewd mentor, Oom Henning Snyman) at the dawn of the inevitable arrival of multi- racial sport back in the mid-70’s.
As much as we mourn the passing of our beloved mother, friend and sporting colleague let us take this opportunity to celebrate the times we shared with Aunt Rickey – a warm and kind-hearted lady of substance who dedicated her entire life to sport.
Like many other energetic hyperactive boys in the notorious Katutura township, we were blessed to find in Aunt Rickey a shelter of warmness. Her house was home to many of us irrespective of tribe, political beliefs or cultural attachment.
Aunt Ricky was not only ever present at football matches, she served both tennis and netball disciplines with distinction. It would be indeed a grave miscarriage of justice if her name were not be engraved in the golden pages of our national archives.
Understandably, it was inevitable that Aunt Rickey’s name would always be linked to her famous son Frank, but it should be noted that she ran her own race in the sporting arena way before Frank became a household name in football and athletics.
She took dozens of athletes under her wing arriving from outside the city of lights (Windhoek) – ultimately paving the way for their future endeavours, transforming them from potential stray boys into men and women of dignity.
Amongst them: midfield general Lucky Boostander, George Martin, Kandas Paulinho, Willem Wermann, Five Hochobeb, Theo Shekupe, Vossie van Wyk, Indies Damaseb, business mogul Sidney Martin and a score of learners from the St Joseph’s Secondary School (Dobra).
Aunt Rickey possessed that rare magical parental touch and whenever young boys were out of order, be it on the football pitch or in the streets, the ‘Iron Lady’ would reprimand us with authority.
Such was the respect she was accorded that even those hardened self-proclaimed toughies in the hood would listen carefully, vowing never to repeat the same unpleasant episodes again.
What made her unique is that she never held grudges against those around her even if she felt shortchanged by decisions on the playing field. That was Aunt Rickey for you – a loving and caring human being with strict principles, morals, ethics and dignity second to none.
Unselfishly, she often sacrificed her only child to accommodate the less privileged ones as Frank was made to share whatever he could with others including space.
A woman of substance, Aunt Rickey was indeed the unofficial ‘Poster Girl’ of an institution commonly known as Black Africa, and was a mean tennis player, excellent chef and a salted tailor amongst her many talents and above all a kind-hearted soul who could easily warm up to those around her.
Sadly, the adorable lady, mother took a bow from the game of life aged 77, after a vicious cardiac arrest at a Windhoek hospital, last Friday.
She leaves behind son Frank, daughter-in-law Jessica, two grandchildren (son and daughter) and elder sisters Sarah and Aletha Peterson. Younger brother Isaac predeceased her in 2015. May her soul rest in eternal peace in one piece.
The lady with the Midas touch will be ushered to her permanent castle at the Pionierspark cemetery in Windhoek, tomorrow morning. Hamba Khahle, Mother of All.