Back in the day, there were all sorts of athletes with different personalities gracing our football fields across the length and breadth of our beloved Land of the Brave.
While the likes of Bulwe Geingob, Wherrick Goraseb-Zimmer (Uerivara) Gabes “Flying Fish” Mupupa, Cleophas Siseva Siririka, aka Danger, Tommy Ushoana, Raymond Doods, Allan van Harte, Lemmy Special Narib, Coloured Kakololo, Mbauka ”Kaptein” Hengari, Floyd Maharero, Alfred Harob Gawanab, Times Mwetuyela , Engelhard Gariseb and many others inspired football fans with unbelievable ball artistry, there were also a few funny characters.
One such footballer was the late Cape Cross/Pirates (Dolam) Football Club’s versatile but robust fullback, one Simon German Gariseb, aka Tsigeib.
The seemingly ageless argumentative peacock-footed centreback took no prisoners and would get sucked in tough battles despite his fairly advanced age having played competitive football from the 50s until the mid-70s. New Era Sports unpacks the football journey of the Pirates’ forgotten man.
Carlos “CK” Kambaekwa
Windhoek-History reveals that the beautiful game of football started to take shape in apartheid South West Africa (SWA) in the early 50s that saw the unavoidable emergence of Tigers, Cape Cross, African Stars and Thistles.
However, it was not until the Windhoek Municipality started to show interest in the plight of the residents, obviously for strategic reasons, erecting recreational facilities, though of extremely substandard quality in the shape of two gravel football fields. The fields were fitted with makeshift goalposts with nets missing at both the St Andrew’s Roman Catholic Primary School and the Bantu field, adjacent to the Municipality (Bowker H/Q) at Windhoek’s location, nowadays known as Pionierspark and Hochland Park, respectively.
The trio of departed football gurus, Herbert Conradie, Alfred Harob Gawanab and Oscar Norich-Tjahuha put shoulder to the wheel – knitting together proper organised structures as the beautiful game started to gain popularity among the entertainment-starved black folks.
With a significant number of Bantus (blacks) descending on the city of lights (Windhoek) in search of greener pastures, including better educational opportunities, young darkish hide fellows fell madly in love with the spherical object.
This led to the sudden mushrooming of football clubs and since almost every move was monitored by the gun-wielding Bowker boys, who made damn sure that ethnicity reigned supreme in whatever functions darkies embarked upon – every single move was by darkies closely monitored and tailored to be executed along tribal lines – obviously to the satisfaction of the oppressors (lawmakers) but very much to the chagrin of the supposed encoders (oppressed).
Tigers catered for the Oshiwambo-speaking community, African Stars was from a predominantly Ovaheroro/Ovambanderu clan while the playing personnel at Thistles FC was made up of a mixture of coloureds and basters. Namas also had their own entity in the shape of Rocco Swallows, to be renamed Ramblers Katutura (RAMKAT) in later years following the unavoidable amalgamation with neighbours Jungle Boys.
As it stands, there is a long-held belief that the Damaras are the most urbanised tribe in Namibia and they are generally, and rightly so, argued to be the authentic implementers of the beautiful game in apartheid South West Africa (SWA) back in the day.
So, it was only fitting that they too could not be left behind as they established their own football team as a sense of belonging. This led to the establishment of the dangerous pair of Ramblers and Cape Cross FC to be rechristened Pirates (Dolam) in the intervening years.
The team was spearheaded by one of Namibia’s most unheralded prolific strikers of all time, Wherrick Zimmer-Goraseb, better known as “Uerivara” in football circles alongside boyhood buddies Simon Tsigeib German Gariseb, Harob Gawanab and Amon Gaoseb.
Interestingly, Ou Tsigeib headed a large group of Pirates’ travelling entourage to Lüderitz for a number of exhibition matches in both the football and netball disciplines against local teams in the southern harbour town.
As fate would dictate, the marathon tour coincided with the upheavals of the forced removal from Windhoek’s Old Location in 1968.
Interestingly, the trio ended in a six-week marathon journey as the dilapidated Ford van that had in all honesty seen its better days on the road broke down intermittently on the way to the team’s intended destination.
And by the time the team returned home after their coastal excursion, shock lay in waiting as they found themselves homeless with their precious homes brutally demolished.More shockingly, distraught members of the team, found themselves in dire straits with their treasured belongings having been also forcibly removed by the itchy baton-wielding Bowker Boys (Municipal Cops).
This led to the displacement of many of the club’s close-knit family with a good chunk of them finding refuge in the newly built pocket-size Dolam location, situated on the outskirts of Katutura.
In the interim, Ou Tsigeib was tasked to usher several new generations of young footballers, including his kid brother, Erich “The Bomber” Hansen, Issaskar “Sky” Kuvare, Zebulon Brazello Haoseb, Anton “Safe” Kuruseb, Zorro Haoseb (Wagga Goagoseb’s old man) Moses “Moles” Owoseb and many other talented youngsters into the club’s culture.
It can be rightly concluded that it was indeed through his influence that Pirates would become notorious for designing two different sets of rules whenever the going got tough.
Pirates would not take kindly to referees’ decisions going against them and would often claim that the ball had crossed the goal line while it was to the contrary.
The club made it their sole beat to dispute any decision going against them and match officials would sporadically fall prey to the serial argumentative peacock-footed Ou Tsigeib.
And if the opposition scores what look like a legitimate goal, Pirates, under the stewardship of the Commander in Chief, Ou Tsigeib would have the final say whether the goal should be allowed or not.
Well, in many incidents, the final decision would always go their way because the gold and black Dolam outfit would not budge a dime until the final verdict is delivered in their favour.
Apart from his on-field antics, Ou Tsigeib could play the game with a decent measure of competence. A versatile athlete, he could play in many positions as a lethal striker, tough-as-nails centreback and was also equally at home between the sticks wherever the need arose.
When the very first South West Africa (SWA) Bantu Invitational Eleven undertook a tour to South Africa by rail in 1958, Ou Tsigeib’s name was among the first on the selectors’ wish list but the tough-tackling peacock-footed fullback declined the invitation.
The team played several exhibition matches in Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein during their two-week safari across the Orange River where they entertained football fans with their one-touch direct style of European football, complemented by ferocious long-range shots, as opposed to the short-passing game played by their South African opponents.
“Football was great in those days because each and every team was loaded with athletes of exceptional quality in their armoury,” recalls Tsigeib’s boyhood buddy and former teammate, Wherrick Zimmer-Goroseb, aka Uerivara, when New Era Sports located the fast-as-lightning retired net-buster at his adopted home in Poffadder, in the North/West Cape Province, South Africa.
He describes his old buddy as an incredible competitive athlete who never pulled out of tough battles, a very reliable teammate who always threw his battered frame on the line for the club and fellow teammates whenever he was called into action to ruffle feathers.
“Ou Tsigeib was indeed very strong and quite steady on his feet, it was very rare seeing him coming out second best from tough confrontations.
“He was more than capable of polishing any troublesome striker that came his at any given time. And oh, boy! The man could instill fear into marauding forwards at any given time with his traditional close man marking strategy”.
A trusted one club man, Ou Tsigeib would go onto oversee several generations at his beloved black and gold strip Pirates (Dolam) in later years – playing competitive football until well over the age of 40+before eventually calling it quits well into the twilight of an otherwise flourishing football career, often casts in controversy – obviously deriving from his chronic argumentative moods.
Sadly, the adorable versatile footballer took a bow from the game of life – just six days before celebrating his 68th birthday on 4 July 2006.
May his soul rest in eternal peace in one piece.