13 July 2018

Namibia: Toe to Toe With Reds' Founding Member, Thomas Hindjou

Did you know that retired African Stars FC tough tackling fullback, Thomas Hindjou, was a founder member of Katutura glamour football club African Stars, when the team was established under candlelight discussions at Windhoek's old location in 1952.

And did you know that uncle Tommy unintentionally prevented his best buddy and teammate, the late Oscar Norich-Tjahuha from committing suicide, when doctors wanted to amputate his leg after a career-threatening fractured leg. Tjahuha was so extremely traumatized and devastated that he considered taking his own life after doctors told him in no uncertain terms that he would never be able to play football again.

"I desperately tried to coerce my roommate Tommy into siphoning some insecticide poison from his then girlfriend, now his spouse (Kapena Hindjou, nee Kamberipa) to poison mice that were roaming freely in our rusty corrugated matchbox house in Windhoek's old location. "I pleaded with Tommy in vain to smooth talk his lady to smuggle the poison out of the state hospital where she was working as a trained nurse.

"However, for some strange reasons, he never managed to get the stuff and that actually saved my life," related a teary Tjahuha during an interview with New Era Sport before his death a couple of years ago.

We caught up with the man to hear the tales from the horse's mouth and how he played truant with his schoolteacher to avoid going back to his village school in Omatjete in the Erongo region.

Carlos 'CK' Kambaekwa

WINDHOEK - Like many other rural boys his age from the rural areas, Thomas Hindjou arrived in the city of lights (Windhoek), under mysterious circumstances.

Born in the rocky village enclave of Okamapuku in the Omaruru district, Erongo region on the 28th of October 1936 - uncle Tommy spent a significant chunk of his infant years at Omatjete after the family was relocated following a devastating draught that wiped out all their livestock.

"We lost all our livestock through the drought and only remained with one cow, but fortunately, there was this generous good Samaritan, headman Mutonga. The headman happened to be a distant relative of ours and took us under his wing - moving us to live with him at Omatjete."

Uncle Tommy started his schooling in Omatjete and it was here where he befriended schoolteacher, the late Alpheus Kozonguizi, who took a liking to the baby-faced light-skinned boy.

"Teacher Kozonguizi offered me an opportunity to accompany him to Windhoek during the festive season December school holidays. I could not resist such a lifetime opportunity of missing out on exploring the beauty of Windhoek and joyfully jumped at the invitation," recalls the ageing uncle Tommy

Upon arrival in Windhoek, uncle Tommy stayed with his elder sister but in his own words, he had no intention of setting foot back in his native village again.

"I was seriously getting tired of the daily lashings at school with the result that I developed some kind of hatred for school."

When it was time to travel back to Omatjete, the now semi-streetwise uncle Tommy was nowhere to be found as he had made a commitment to himself never to return to village life again.

"I could no longer stomach the daily bashings at school and decided to stay put in the city of lights. Since I was still a raw typical village boy, I was obliged to start a class lower to catch up with the wide-awake streetwise boys from the city."

He resurfaced at the revered Saint Barnabas School and it was at this learning institution that he started playing competitive football though his interest in chasing the pigskin developed while he was still stuck in Omatjete.

Upon completing his primary education, uncle Tommy went to further his studies at the Augustineum Secondary School, holed up in the outskirts of the garden town Okahandja, north of Windhoek.

He continued playing football at school but it was not until he retreated to his adopted hometown (Windhoek) that uncle Tommy started playing organized football with the now defunct Young Standard football club.

"What actually transpired is that there were two football teams from the Ovaherero-speaking community in the form of Juvenile and Young Standard. The former was made up of predominantly Ovambanderu footballers while the latter boasted a significant chunk of Ovaherero-speaking athletes.

"We used to compete fiercely in knockout cup tournaments travelling to Kalkfeld, Omaruru, Gobabis, Okahandja and Otjiwarongo, but mostly these contests would unfortunately end in fistfights."

With both teams struggling dismally to stamp their authority in the domestic knockout cup competitions - it was resolved to merger the entities into one strong team representing the entire Ovaherero-speaking community. This led to the amalgamation of Juvenile and Young Standard football clubs - ultimately the inevitable birth of African Stars FC in 1952.

"I vividly remember that particular night at the late Katume Handura's house in old location. "The likes of Tigers, Cape Cross and Speed Fire were very strong and used to whip us randomly in many of our confrontations but the arrival of African Stars completely changed the landscape."

African Stars was founded during a time of revolution with many young Ovaherero-speaking fellows aggressively protesting the much-condemned Bantu education system and skewed segregation laws that prevented blacks from enjoying the same privileges as their white counterparts in the land of their ancestors.

Local socialite Charles Kauraisa teamed up with Justus Handura (+), Hijamboora Jahanika, Tunguru Huaraka (+), Cleophas Siseva "Danger" Siririka (+), Oscar Norich-Tjahuha (+) and many other talented footballers to spearhead the unavoidable formation of African Stars. (+ = deceased)

The now 82-year-old uncle Tommy is amongst few survivors from the maiden "Starlile" squad and was still an active squad member when residents from the old location were forcefully relocated to Katutura in 1968.

He rates former teammates Oscar Norich-Tjahuha and Onesmus Shikongo Akwenye as the greatest footballers of his generation.

"We had a lot of good footballers but those two were a cut above the rest. I must admit Tigers had phenomenal footballers in their armoury, without an iota of doubt 'Ingwe Inyama' were a finished product, the finest football team in the business at the time - they were just untouchable."

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