Ode to a forgotten footballer, Silvanus Njambari (1974–2003)
January 11, 2003 will go down in history as one of the darkest days in the history of Namibian football fraternity, which was left trembling in shock like a fired-up boere orkes following the sudden death of one of the country’s most celebrated footballers, one Silvanus Delaja Njambari, aka ‘Selly’, as he was known amongst his vast circle of friends and teammates.
A protégé of the giant-killing garden town outfit Liverpool Football Club and younger brother of prolific former Liverpool striker Donald Tjikune, the hard-tackling left-footed defenders genes dictated that he would be a footballer of note.
After all, his old man – Samuel Mannetjie Tjikune – uncle of local business mogul and former African Stars FC charismatic chairman Sidney Martin, ranked among the most lethal strikers in the business of his generation.
The afro-haired light skinned goalpoacher used to torment defenders with his pace complemented by a goal-scoring prowess yet to be matched in modern football, despite featuring for unfashionable Kuisebmond (Walvis-Bay) outfit Red Fire FC.
In hindsight, the late Selly’s innocent boyish looks could be easily mistaken for a shy young lad who could hardly harm a fly but oh boy, but put him on the football field to mark dangerous strikers and you would see a totally different person.
Selly’s mother, Katrin Oosthuizen, nee Njambari was a formidable netballer in her own right, who cut her teeth with the Okombahe Primary School and Usakos’ leading side, Try Again, during her younger days.
Sadly, as fate would dictate Selly took an unexpected bow from the game of life under mysterious circumstances, aged just 28, while still at the pinnacle of his flourishing football career.
In today’s first edition of 2017, New Era Sport relives the untold football journey of the departed former Brave Warriors wing fullback Silvanus Delaja Njambari.
Born in the semi-desert town of Usakos in the vast and scarcrly populated Erongo Region on the 28th of August 1974, the late Selly Njambari was destined to become a great athlete.
The conspicuously rocky town of Usakos, located approximately 210-kilometres west of Namibia’s commercial capital, Windhoek, was where young Selly started chasing plastic balls in the dusty streets of Hakhaseb, which was then the town’s main residential area for black residents.
He started his schooling at t F Goseb and Erongosig primary schools in his native Usakos before relocating to the harbour town of Walvis Bay, where he was placed under the care of his now departed uncle, Asser //Uiseb.
After a year in Walvis Bay, Selly moved to the garden town of Okahandja to further his studies at Okahandja Secondary School.
In the meantime, Selly would feature for his hometown club, Black Marroko FC, where he proved himself a versatile athlete who could play in several positions.
Upon completion of his secondary studies, the likeable left-footed fullback joined forces with local side Liverpool FC, where he teamed up with Lucas Bimbo Tjihero, China Utoni, Kamitiri Kuuahee, beanpole centreback Hellao Naruseb and the robust and strongly built Gottfried ‘Kambule’ Howaeb.
Blessed with pace, timely tackling, a good reader of the game and above all, an all rounder who fitted in like a hand in glove when it came to transitional football – Selly was just what the good doctor had ordered for the fast improving Nau-Aib outfit.
He blossomed and grew rapidly in stature under the stewardship of wily mentor Raphael Mlungisi Ngubane – aka ‘Professor’ – and his deputy, Imbert Jamanuka Tjihero.
After few solid displays in the Merseysiders’ rearguard, Selly was called up for national duty and made his debut for the Brave Warriors in 1994 where he played a pivotal role in steering the Warriors to their maiden appearance at the AFCON finals in Burkina Faso in 1998.
Ironically, he was deployed alongside his Liverpool teammate, China Utoni, on the left wing of the Warriors starting lineup in the problematic left back position – making the number three jersey his own property.
Such was his impressive display for the Warriors and Liverpool respectively that Gemengde outfit Black Africa Football Club came knocking on his door for his signature, dangling a juicy carrot in his face in the shape of a lucrative job offer at the Ministry of Youth and Culture.
The Usakos-born lad jumped at the opportunity and without hesitation found refuge with the Katutura glamour football club.
The overlapping fullback quickly established himself as a pillar of strength in the team’s defense and went onto become rated as one of the most respected defenders in the business until his untimely and tragic departure from the game of life in 2003.
May his soul rest in eternal peace.