Tribute to Luke Ndawedapo Nepela
A giant in spirit with an in-born smile passed on after a short-illness on 15 June 2021. Our friendship and family bond with late Luke Ndawedapo Nepela stretches over 60 years from the Old Location where we first entered planet earth and were subsequently forcefully dumped in Katutura: Donkerhoek Section Ov 23/6 for the Shivutes and Ov 23/38 for the Nepelas.
Ndawedapo or Sadike, as he was well-known to many of us, was more than just an ordinary run of the mill human being. He was a genius to the extent that I adopted the habit of deservedly calling him ‘Doctor’. He was, indeed, a people’s person, helpful, generous and truthfully samaritanic. He was always kind, with an infectious smile irrespective of the circumstances he finds himself in.
Impossible or failure alluded him and was not part of Sadike’s vocabulary from cradle to grave!
Amongst many hobbies, Sadike and I had in common are our own Tigers Sports Club and the English Premier League Club, Arsenal. His father and my grandfather were among the founding members of the Tigers Sports Club well-known as Ingweinyama in 1927 at the Old Location.
To date, there are still conflicting records in the archives of who was the founding chairman of the club. Lukas Nepela, Abraham Namwandi or Aaron Shivute?
Sadike was so passionate about the Ingweinyama Club and did everything as a young boy and until he grew up wishing to play for his childhood club, but unfortunately, his condition wouldn’t allow him to reach the envisaged limits and exploits.
After Namibia’s independence, he continued supporting his childhood club by getting involved in the club activities, conspicuously present and attending every single Tigers game, home and away, unless he was out of the country with work or business.
In the mid-1990s, he got involved in the management of the club as chairperson, a position he held in high esteem and added immeasurable value to both Tigers’ soccer and netball teams.
Around 2011, because of his generosity and sentimental attachment to the Ingweinyama, he donated a mini-bus to the club. Kelly Asser, Tigers longest serving team manager, noted that Sadike was a “Chairman in the true sense of the word.”
He remembers him giving from time to time motivational speeches to the club and describes the late as a “truly inspirational figure”.
“You brought joy to the Ingwe die-hards when we lost faith in the ability to win trophies and under your true leadership, you brought back the self- belief and pride among the staunch supporters,” reminisced the manager.
Sadike and I have also been staunch supporters of the English Premier League Club, Arsenal, well-known as the Gunners to the extent that during the 1990s till mid 2000s when we were both in Windhoek we would always make sure that we watch any of the Gunners’ games together at his residence or mine, irrespective of which day of the week or time it was.
If we failed to watch the round ball match together, we would always call each other and share the joy of victory or frustration of losing, as the case may be.
Another patriotic stalwart, Chippa Tjirera, in his tribute shared with me said, although he had known Sadike as a brother to Ndeshi Namases nee Akwenye and as a good friend of Noddy Hipangelwa, and a learner at Martin Luther High School (MLH), it was in exile that they moved closer to one another and practically lived together as brothers.
Sadike, with the group of other learners from MLH and Uis Secondary School, in the now Daures Constituency, joined Tjirera at Mamomo Border Post, Botswana, in 1978. He was in the company of now Chief Manasse Zeraerua, Rudolf Hongoze, Teckla Taraki Uwanga, Pau Shilongo, the late Dr Helen Star Nkandi-Shiimi, Pastor Simeon Kanyemba and many others.
When they reached Francistown in Botswana, they were joined by Benny Petrus, Deputy Chief Justice Petrus Damaseb, former Member of Parliament Tsudao Gurirab, Haroldt Urib, Revival Bon-Bon Smit and many others.
After arriving in Lusaka, Zambia, Tjirera said Sadike and others were enrolled at the United Nations Institute for Namibia (UNIN) where they met the towering, indomitable and charismatic enigma at the helm of that pot that became the intellectual breeding and nurturing alma mater of many of Namibia’s administrative management and administrative cadre. That was none other than Comrade Director, Dr. Hage Gotfried Geingob, the first Prime Minister and now the President of our beloved: Namibia- The Land of the Brave!
For those students who were at Omututula (UNIN) then, this group was an epitome of brains, zeal and example to be benchmarked for years to come, so I am told. Hard-working, ethical, loyal, patriotic, sharing and assisting the less fortunate and exposed ones!
In 1981, after two years at UNIN, Tjirera, Sadike and late Lohmeier Angula, were attached to the United Nations Economic Council for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa, Socialist Ethiopia then for what was called secondment and hands-on learning and practicing management and administration.
After their graduation, my friend and brother Sadike, together with Angula, Willem Goeieman, Kahijoro Kahuure, Gerson Tjihenuna, Tsudao Gurirab and others left Lusaka to Llubiljana in the then Yugoslavia.
According to Tjirera, apart from academic life, the two enjoyed life together and each other’s company, cherishing the hallmark of “Coming from the same socio-cultural background as persons who were born and bred in towns, who shared a lot in common, including being highly de-trabilised”.
Tjirera described the late Sadike as a strong and hard-working; passionate and humble; friendly, compassionate and a generous person. I cannot but wholly and unwaveringly second that!
Sadike’s business acumen is said to have started way back in Yugoslavia where he started as a layman foreign currency dealer/middle man between the US Dollar rich students from oil rich Arab countries, locals and other foreign students.
At home, we shall always recall Sadike as that entrepreneurial magnet and gentle but incisive business personality tested, served and graduated from the board of directors of Deep South Resources Incorporated; the general manager of Kalahari Minerals PLC, Etale Fishing Company and in the political and administrative terrain as the gatekeeper, right-hand man and personal assistant to the then Minister of Mines and Energy
Sadike will be remembered as a great man, man of the people, at times controversial, as well as conservative, but always willing to assist in whatever manner and advice with his ever infectious but genuine smile.
Mocks Shikalepo Shivute