Windhoek – Namibian karate master Lazarus Mambo’s motivation has always been to create a platform for young people to find their destiny through martial arts.
For forty years now, he has tried to do just that through his tranining centre. But the facility is not what it used to be, and Mambo’s heart is bleeing.
Born in the 1940s, Mambo has taught martial arts for more than four decades, mostly at the Namibian Sports and Recreational Centre (NSRC) he founded in Windhoek on May 14, 1980.
Growing up during the apartheid era, Mambo was inspired by the fierce determination of the liberation stalwarts who started the independence movement in Windhoek’s Old Location. He channeled his energies twowards the martial arts, and he has always beleived that it is a discipline that many yong people sorely need.
“I was inspired by Asian heritage through the political movements of my father, I love chi-kung, which is the study and practice of cultivating vital life-force through various techniques, including breathing and posture,” explained Mambo to The Southern Times Sport this week.
He started off by training young people in Windhoek’s Old Location, now known as Pioneers Park, before he set base in Katutura as teh liberation war forced him to relocate. Using the little resources he could pull together, eh slowly began piecing the NSRC together.
“I have helped a lot of youths in Damara location and Katutura in general. When blacks were relocated to leave in Katutura, youth gangs where controlling the streets and there was a lot of commotion because of these rowdy gangs. The gangs included the likes of Panga, Gang Seven, One Ways, Red Eyes and Sangomas which controlled the streets of Damara and Wanaheda locations in Katutura,” he said.
“What the apartheid regime failed to do I managed it on my own as I managed to bring these youth gangs together in harmony and peace. They signed peace agreements here at this centre and at one point I could control more than 1,200 youths at this centre as a kung-fu master, and I had their names on the register.”
But now the facility is derelict.
“As you can see the centre is in a sorry state and even the toilets are now a health hazard to the community. I plead with the Ministry of Sport and the Chinese government to come on board to rescue and transform this centre into a state-of-the-art facility that will be able to house a proper gym, hostels for both girls and boys and a business centre, all with a security wall.
“We have land already and a few buildings which makes it easy for anyone who wants to partner us in revamping this centre, and our road map is very clear and readily available to those who want to assist,” said Mambo.
Health protocols related to COVID-19 mean the facility can presently accomodate just 30 people at a time, which is added reason for Mambo to seek to expand it.
“Forrmer students can also plough back into this so that we make it truly great facility,” he said.
Mambo, who was trained by internationally recognised kung-fu master Chin Miel Su in the 1950s, bristles whenever he hers about gender-based violence, and this is one of the reasons why he actively seeks to recruit women and girls for self-defence classes.
“It hurts me whenever I read of rape and gender-based violence in the newspapers,” he added.