Tributes poured in yesterday for veteran broadcaster and renowned historian Alexander Jarimbovandu Kaputu, who died in the early hours of yesterday after a long illness. He was 69.
Leading the tributes, President Hage Geingob lauded the unifying role played by Kaputu in the preservation of oral history and culture.
“Through language and culture, the late Jarimbovandu Kaputu played a pivotal role in the preservation of the history and traditions of the Ovaherero people.
He leaves behind a rich legacy of nation-building and loyal service to the Namibian people through his outstanding contributions to Namibia’s oral history and broadcasting during his years of service at the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation,” Geingob said.
“Indeed, an important voice in the community has gone quiet. However, we should be consoled by his heritage of community service, which will be cherished by current and future generations.
On behalf of the government, the people of the Republic of Namibia, I extend heartfelt condolences to the wife, the children and the entire family during this difficult period of mourning. May his soul rest in eternal peace.” Described as a ‘book of wisdom’, Kaputu died at the Otjinene clinic in the Omaheke region after he was rushed to the facility from his homestead at Ombakaha.
Kaputu started his broadcasting career with the South West Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SWABC) and later Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). He retired from the corporation in 2015. Leader of the official opposition, the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), McHenry Venaani yesterday sent his heartfelt condolences to the friends and family of Kaputu, describing him as a historian of note, a renowned journalist, teacher to many and a traditional ritualist.
“At a time when our indigenous languages face extinction, he managed to capture the nation, especially the Ovaherero through his use of language.
Kaputu played a significant role in the preservation of the Otjiherero language with his lively oratory skills,” Venaani said.
“Most people did not have to meet him or know him personally to have understood the value that he brought to the Namibian community.
In fact, the young say he naturally cemented himself in their lives as a historian and teacher.” Venaani said Kaputu’s passing is a great loss for the nation as he was one of a few cultural and language activists and protector of traditional roots.
“His legacy can only be preserved by each of us. We now have a duty towards preserving the knowledge he imparted into us through his teachings, by teaching others,” said the leader of the official opposition.
Information minister Peya Mushelenga yesterday said he remembers Kaputu as a historian who contributed to oral literature.
“I remember in 1996 when I was a civil servant at the ministry of foreign affairs when the late Kaputu was seeking assistance from the ministry to facilitate his access to the UN archives in New York for information about chief (Hosea) Kutako’s role on Namibia’s independence,” he said.
“His contribution to the field of history was recognized by the University of Namibia which bestowed him an honorary doctorate.
It is my wish that someone pick up on his work and passion for history.” Unam in 2019 bestowed Kaputu with an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy Honoris Causa in Literature after the recommendation of the Otja-Kapuuo peer initiation Group (1978/79/80) led by Yarukeekuro Ndorokaze.
At the time, Unam vice chancellor Kenneth Matengu described Kaputu as “a rare breed of the children born of the Ovaherero of Namibia. Jarimbovandu refers to the genocide that scattered the people. “There was no doubt that Jari touched the hearts of many Namibians in oral literature (orature), oral history and broadcasting at SWABC and later NBC.
He extended his programmes to educate the African people and left an indelible mark on their souls,” Matengu said at the time.