Tribute to an unsung hero, Chief Sam Tjakuva (1932–1995)
Katutura glamour football club African Stars started life after the inevitable amalgamation of Young Standard and Juvenile Football Clubs at Windhoek‘s Old Location, back in the day.
Though a significant number of the playing personnel from Juvenile FC never made it into the new team, some left behind a legacy that needs to be documented. One such player was the strongly-built and multi-talented Sam Tjakuva, a no-nonsense defender who took no prisoners.
He was a pillar of strength in the Juvenile squad that rewrote the history books after underdogs Juvenile FC saw off tournament favourites, the invincible Tigers, in a hotly contested knockout cup final at the notorious Bowker Municipality gravel field in Windhoek in 1951.
Bra Sam played a pivotal role in keeping the rampant Tigers forwards at bay with his rocksteady defending. Juvenile beat their eternal rivals via Mbauka ‘Kaptein’ Hengari’s powerful header to claim the prestigious silverware and the bragging rights, as well.
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sports feature, Tales of the Legends, New Era Sport brings you our esteemed readers the unrevealed story of this great man, a salted politician, a shrewd leader and above all, an uncompromising community activist, as we relive the astonishing life journey of an unsung hero: the late Sam Tjakuva.
When Juvenile FC arrived at the municipal gravel football field in Windhoek’s Old Location as underdogs to confront arch-rivals Tigers in a knockout cup final – many a football pundit predicted a thorough hiding for the unfashionable and predominantly Ovaherero-speaking outfit, and rightly so.
However, spurred on by a large partisan crowd, Juvenile stood their ground against the star-studded highly rated ‘Ingwe Inyama’ – stretching their more fancied opponents to the limit for the better part of the encounter.
Both sides were goalless after the break with both teams giving nothing away, as that oak door of their respective solid defense refused to yield under sustained pressure.
With darkness about to set in and the match destined for an unwanted stalemate, the dreaded penalty shootout was looming, but alas, up popped a lanky lad going by the name of Mbauka Hengari, better known as ‘Kaptein’ among his peers in football circles.
Kaptein unleashed a powerful header past the outstretched hands of the Tigers goalie to give underdogs Juvenile the much-deserved victory (1-0).
Born Sam Tjakuva on March 16, 1932 in Okatjoruu in what is not the Otjozondjupa Region, Bra Sam grew up in Okuapa and Otjomupanda enclaves, respectively, near Okakarara, where he looked after his father’s large herd of livestock.
He relocated to Windhoek to start his primary schooling at the revered St Barnabas Native School (Joveripate).
Upon leaving school, the streetwise bloke worked for various companies in Windhoek, but unlike many of his peers who indulged in spending their hard earned moolah on tailored suits and enjoying the good life in the company of pretty-faced lasses – the wide awake Bra Sam would spent his money purchasing cattle and horses at auctions.
During the 1968 uprising over the forced removal of residents from the Old Location to relocate to the modest Katutura township, Bra Sam and other hardcore community activists would have none of that and opted to retreat to their original homesteads.
A founder member of one of the oldest political parties in modern Namibia (SWANU) Bra Sam was amongst the first semi-commercial farmers to be resettled on the vast virgin land of Okamatapati in the late 60s under the Odendaal regime settlement programme.
An avid animal lover, Bra Sam developed an unquenchable affection for horses. He spearheaded the establishment of the rural horse racing association that has since grown in leaps and bounds over the years.
His thoroughbred gildings Mamba and Mr Winner, as well as mare Ladies Quest, won several accolades between them in high profile races at places, such as Gobabis, Okamatapati, Otjinene and Okotjitundu.
A genuine go-getter, Bra Sam teamed up with the likes of retired schoolteacher Japhet Karamata (departed) to play an instrumental role in the marathon negotiations with the hard-to-please then authorities for the construction of the Okamatapati Primary School in 1973.
He was deservedly rewarded for his tireless efforts and unrivalled commitment towards community upliftment when he was installed as the third chief of the wealthy Okamatapati community in 1975.
To put the cherry on the cake of his blossoming career, in 1975, Bra Sam was at the forefront in the formation of the much-revered Ongombe Farmers Association, alongside emerging local communal-cum-commercial farmers Ben Toro Mbai, Albert Tjihero (formerly with African Stars) and retired schoolteacher Alphons Vaja Zatjirua.
The newly found association opened doors for emerging commercial and established communal farmers to market their animals in a competitive environment at various agricultural shows that saw Bra Sam’s well-bred animals walk away with lucrative prizes in their respective categories.
Sadly, the likable former Juvenile FC stalwart took a bow from the game of life at the age of 63 in 1995. Incumbent Okamatapati school principal, Undjizuva Tjakuva, is the biological sibling of late Bra Sam. The fairly young fellow could not heap enough praises on his departed old man.
“He was indeed a gallant soldier of the soil, a fearless freedom fighter and human rights activist. My late father was a visionary leader par excellence, who always put the interests of his subjects ahead of his own,” recalls Undji emotionally.