There is an old saying that dynamite comes in small packages and this adage is a fitting tribute to departed African Stars uncompromising right wing, the late Zebaldt Tjitemisa, better known as Zeb or Hija-Kaatjee or still better by his clan name, Mbarinovandu.
Born in Windhoek’s Old Location in 1951, Zeb was among the first crop of exciting youngsters roped in to revive the ailing fortunes of an ageing African Stars Football Club outfit in the early seventies.
Despite his relative lack of decent height, nephewed by limited dribbling skill and close ball control, which was the set criteria for any prospective footballer in those days, the stocky winger was like a possessed Bull Terrier and never pulled out of battles as he jostled tooth and nail for ball possession against robust defenders the likes of Izaak ‘Whoops’ Gariseb, Spokes Tibinyane, Lala Lombard and the hard tackling Simon ‘Tsigeib’ Gariseb.
With football a popularly pastime for bored youngsters back in the day, the influence of elders meant interest in the beautiful game was firmly entrenched in the minds of many youngsters. In today’s edition of your favourite weekly feature Tales of the Legends, New Era Sports relives the football journey of the late Zeb, as we pay a fitting tribute to this phenomenal stocky winger with the heart of a lion.
Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa
Windhoek-As the emergence of many talented young footballers on an organised basis gathered momentum – Zeb Tjitemisa alongside Smody Kamaheke and Merino Kandonga were the three oldest players in the African Stars starting lineup that defeated Black Africa in the historic Daves Furnishers Cup final in Katutura in 1974.
Albert Tjihero, was the youngest member of the squad and played a vital role in the Reds’ victory on that particular freezing Sunday afternoon.
Exactly four years ago, New Era Sports sat down with the flying winger as he relived that memorable match.
“It was the first ever knockout cup tourney carrying a lucrative prize money of N$1,000, which was a massive amount of money in those years,” revealed Zeb.
The Pius Eigowab inspired Gemengde outfit was on fire in that particular tournament, having accounted for some of the finest teams en route to the final to set up a date with arch rivals
Both Eigowab (BA) and Oscar Mengo (Reds), had just returned from Johannesburg where the pair featured for the victorious South West Africa (SWA) Bantu Invitational Eleven.
All eyes were fixed on the pair and while the Silver Fox (Mengo) was pulling the strings in the middle of the park for the Reds, Pele (Eigowab) was rattling the opposition’s net at will at the other end.
Needless to say, both sets of players made their presence felt in that historic final.
Zeb was deployed in the right wing position in a four-pronged attack alongside Smody Kamahake, Ben Kauejao and young Karumbu Kahiha, with Kaika Kuzee and Mengo sharing responsibilities in the middle of the park.
Zeb had an outstanding match and defied all odds stacked against him as he masterfully managed to manoeuvre his way past experienced defenders Vossie van Wyk and Gabes Dausab, doubtlessly, the best centre back to emerge in our neck of the woods at the time.
The stocky winger also had to deal with the equally uncompromising trio of Malaka Somseb, Willy Katire and the ever-present Vossie ‘Boetman’ van Wyk, but still, Zeb left unscathed.
“That’s one football match that will remain stuck in my memory as long as I’m alive. We came through a very tough match against Blue Waters in the semifinal and facing Black Africa with sharp-shooter Eigowab in their midst was literally like taking the bull by the horns”.
Going into the match as underdogs, Stars took a shock 2-goal cushion at the halftime breakthrough strikes by auxiliary fullback Bush Menjengua’s deflected shot and Ben Keuejao’s bullet like header.
However, a rejuvenated BA lifted their game and found themselves back on level terms with two quick goals by Eigowab and the late Five Hochobeb.
From there on, BA looked certain to walk away with the trophy until a relatively young and unknown winger going by the name of Albert ‘Karumbu’ Kahiha popped up to deliver the killer blow with a long-range strike to seal the tie.
This was the match that earned young Tjihero the misplaced tag, ‘Eengo Okaserandu Nguari Pejovi’ in Otjiherero meaning the red one who was solely responsible for the one-thousand-dollars.
Tjihero single-handedly outshone his more celebrated opponents Hochobeb and Albert Louw to come out tops.
Zeb went on to represent Stars with flying colours in several knockout tourneys in the absence of organised league structures, touring places like Kimberley and Upington in neigbouring South Africa.
As fate would have it, the unavoidable arrival of Kaputji Kuhanga and Marques Kamuserandu from Blue Waters FC meant the stocky winger and fellow winger Smody would be relegated to the Reds’ second team.
Nevertheless, he went onto enjoy a fairly successful career with the Katutura glamour football club until he relocated to Arandis where he became a founding member of Sorento Bucks FC.
“By that time, I was getting a bit long in the tooth and only featured for the team’s second strings.”
In the interim, bro Zeb would also feature for his adopted town’s team, Outjo-based Golden Bees FC during weekends until he retired from competitive football.
Initially, his football career started with the now defunct Epako outfit Sunshine FC in Gobabis playing alongside the late Samuel Kandjii, Katuri Kapuire, Kauka Uharua, Epson Kapuire and Chief Tumbee Tjombe.
He was finally lured to the African Stars stable after an impressive display that saw him running rings around the ageing Reds back line comprising of gangling defenders David Ndjoze and Usiel Tjijenda in a friendly match in the Epako Township in 1970.
His arrival at Stars coincided with that of many other youngsters who were brought in to strengthen the ageing team as the older players faded out that left Amos Tjombe and Mike Pack the only surviving members from the old guard.
Zeb will go down in the pages of the history of Stars as a valued member of the golden generation after he inherited the sacred No 7 jersey from the team’s legendary flying winger, Obed Kamburona.
He made his senior debut in the popular Big Ben knockout cup tourney which Stars won 2-1 against Tigers in the final with young Ace Tjirera netting the winning goal.
Zeb also had some nasty moments on the football pitch as can be attested by that Saturday afternoon when he bravely challenged the late Orlando Pirates strongman Dios ‘Zebbo’ Engelbrecht, who was well respected for packing a decent right hook.
“Dios always wanted to impose himself on others and I just had had enough of his bossy attitude, that’s why I challenged him for a physical confrontation but somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that if he struck me first time I would be a statistic. “He really packed dynamite in his fists, but luckily for me, the elders intervened and I was spared a potential serious beating”.
Zeb comes from a well-respected football family, as his old man Justus Handura, played for African Stars in the early days of the team’s formation.
Brothers Nicklas and Amos Kajau manned the sticks for Stars at different intervals, Merino Kandonga played in defence while Thabo Tsamaseb, was arguably the finest centre back during his tenure in the heart of Orlando Pirates rearguard until a horrific car accident ended his promising football career prematurely.
As if this is not enough, another brother, Justus ‘Mengo’ Tjazerua, was a great midfielder with Okahandja-based Morocco FC and another younger brother Joel Muserandu Tjiramba used to be a hard tackling left back for Young Cosmos, while his elder son Steven ‘Wes’ Tjenao also played at the highest level with distinction for both Chief Santos and African Stars.
All the abovementioned were fairly decent footballers in their own right. May his soul rest in eternal peace.