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Home / Moving Obit for a pair of Legal Eagles: RIP Johnny Akwenye 1951-2022; RIP Matty Namene Mwandingi 1988-2022

Moving Obit for a pair of Legal Eagles: RIP Johnny Akwenye 1951-2022; RIP Matty Namene Mwandingi 1988-2022

2022-05-27  Carlos Kambaekwa

Moving Obit for a pair of Legal Eagles: RIP Johnny Akwenye 1951-2022; RIP Matty Namene Mwandingi 1988-2022
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“Life is eternal, love is immortal and death is only a horizon.” This is our carefully-chosen scripture on this dark Friday, as we pay dignified homage to a pair of departed great men of substance in the shape of Tigers Sport Club stalwarts Johnny Akwenye and Matty Namene Mwandingi, who have both gone to meet their maker.

Coincidently, our departed brothers were both prominent legal practitioners by profession, and have also served the beautiful game of football with distinction at different intervals. 

Uncle Johnny was the younger brother of the football playing Akwenye siblings – Onesmus Shikongo and free-scoring attacker Ferdinand ‘Buti Ferre’ Akwenye, also famously going by the nickname of the ‘Slippery Fox’, as well as the equally-talented netball playing last-born sister Annatjie Tobias. 

The latter is hitched to former Blue Waters FC winger Berro Tobias. 

Johnny’s old man, Tobias Akwenye, was the founding member of Blue Waters FC.

A vibrant young lawyer, Namene Mwandingi, was amongst the Fifa-appointed quintet on the first NFA Normalisation Committee under the stewardship of Hilda Basson-Namundjembo, Gaby Ahrens, Franco Cosmos and Viviene Katjiuongua. 

He also played football for boyhood team Tigers, during his prime time as an enthusiastic versatile young defender.  

As has become customary practice to give our athletes and those who have unselfishly dedicated their life and precious time to the beautiful game of football, New Era Sport, in the good company of our popular weekly sport feature, Tales of the Legends, profiling unsung athletes, still inhaling fresh air, and those who have gone the way of all flesh – dedicates this space to lay bare accounts of the aforementioned departed brothers’ lives in full detail and the immerse contributions they made towards the overall growth of the game. May their souls rest easy and in one piece.

 

Chalking an obituary for someone very close to you, someone whom you have been sporadically sharing chats with telephonically, a true gentleman you knew up close and personal, is one of the most energy-sapping and challenging experiences of writing, because one has to acknowledge the loss of loved ones, and at the same time, celebrate the joy, love and laughter they brought to us. 

By the way, needless to put it bluntly, our younger readers most probably would not have heard the name Johnny Akwenye now and then cropping up in conversations about football – let alone Namibian football, but who can blame them? 

Well, Uncle Johnny Akwenye, an experienced lawyer by profession, was a very smart football administrator. 

He served on the Central Football Association (CFA) League executive, and was amongst the principal ringleaders that masterminded the politically-motivated breakaway group, which led to the unavoidable birth of the Namibia Super Soccer League (NSSL) in 1985. 

A total of eight teams from the historically-disadvantaged and marginalised football community severed all ties with the white-dominated Central Football Association (CFA) league under the auspices of South West Africa Football Association (SWAFA). 

Tellingly, the defining image of Namibian football was designed by few brave men, who put their bodies on the line to achieve the unthinkable.

Akwenye and his fed-up peers gallantly defied threats, systematic restrictions and all sorts of vile verbal attacks when eight of the country’s leading football clubs resolved to go solo, parting ways with the white-dominated football umbrella body SWAFA. 

The chief objective was to weather the storm towards the quest of taking football to the next level, searching to allow clubs to receive a decent share from gate-takings that would enable clubs to handsomely remunerate their playing personnel, with the ultimate aim to turn the game into a semi-professional setup. 

Always calm, calculated and composed, the legal eagle (Uncle Johnny) was at the forefront of the so-called “rebel league” that managed to convince the crème de la crème of domestic football to start a new lease of life elsewhere, far away from SWAFA.  

The quartet of Windhoek based teams, shepherded by Tigers, African Stars, Orlando Pirates and Black Africa, put shoulder to the wheel, dangling a juicy carrot in the wholly faces of coastal giants Blue Waters and Eleven Arrows, as well as northern powerhouses Chelsea and Benfica to complete the walkout that led to the inevitable birth of the NSSL.

However, it was not a bed of roses for the defectors.  Uncle J and his vibrant executive had to endure the wrath of the vindictive red-faced local authorities, who tried all sorts of tricks in the book of puke-inducing tricks to unsettle or rather derail the functions of the uncompromising new kid on the block at all cost.  The breakaway league was shamelessly denied access to state facilities, and players registered with the newly-formed super league – to put it bluntly without favour or fear – were harshly deemed ineligible for inter-provincial selection to represent the land of their ancestors.

Nonetheless, Uncle J and his steadfast soldiers stood their ground until they were eventually, even though half-heartedly, given a poorly-lit green light, obviously with a pinch of salt to compete in the less glamorous South African Inter-Provincial Impala Cup. 

South West Africa (SWA-Namibia) secured her third victory in the Impala Cup in 1986.  In the meantime, the white-dominated Amateur Soccer Association’s (ASA) gravely weakened team was allowed to compete unsuccessfully in the prestigious South African Inter-Provincial Currie Cup without the slightest hindrance. 

Uncle J, was the sixth-born of nine children, who include two pairs of twin sisters. He now joins departed siblings Paulina Nepela Mushimba, Ferdinand, Ally ya Otto, Helena Shikale, Rachel and Leah Mwetuthana in heaven. 

May their souls continue to rest well collectively.     

                                

Matty Namene Mwandingi 

A diehard supporter of English giants Manchester United, Mwandingi boasts a fairly attractive resume in the annals of domestic football. The football crazy boy started playing competitive football as a dedicated tireless hard-running attacking midfielder-cum-central-defender for boyhood team Tigers FC.  He did not reach the expected greater heights as some of his mates in the team, where he was somehow overshadowed, and rightly so by the imposing presence of foreign import in the towering versatile Tanzanian playmaker Lubigisa Lubigisa. 

Some of his celebrated teammates were Kenny Malgas, Fox Nambundunga, Dudes Mwedihanga, Jasehn Khumalo Petrus and centre back partner Pecka Hamukwaya. 

And even though the more experienced crowd favourite Lubigisa ran the show for the invigorated youthful “Ingwe” outfit, the football playing legal eagle certainly left a long-lasting mark. 

His former coach Willem Kapukare describes his protégé as one of those players any coach wouldn’t want to leave out of the starting line-up. “Eish, it’s very sad. His sudden death came as a shock; it’s a hard pill to swallow. Matty was such a great lad, demonstrating high level of discipline, a dedicated athlete, always committed to the task at hand. Unfortunately, my time at Tigers was abruptly interrupted, and we could not spend much time together to complete the journey,” narrates Kapukare.  

Off the field, Mwandingi was appointed on the panel of the Namibia Premier League (NPL) Disciplinary Committee, and also held dozens of high-profile portfolios off the football field.  The easy-going calculated attorney was a well-respected councillor of the Law Society of Namibia in addition to being the main “Langana” (sole owner) of his law firm Mwandingi Attorneys.

His unquestionable expertise in sport laws and other related legal matters obligated the world’s football governing body Fifa to appoint him on the NFA Normalisation Committee in an effort to harmonise the seemingly unending infights entrenched in the troubled corridors of the Namibian Football House.  Sadly, the brother took a bow from the game of life from a suspected cardiac arrest after a social football outing.         


2022-05-27  Carlos Kambaekwa

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