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Opinion - Muvi Tjiho was a worthy political opponent

2022-05-13  Gerson Uaripi Tjihenuna

Opinion - Muvi Tjiho was a worthy political opponent

Muvi Tjiho was born on 1 January 1936 and passed on 28 April 2022.

As we were approaching the 1989 UN-supervised independence elections in Namibia, I was dispatched by the Swapo leadership to deputise Uatjaera Kazombiaze at the Swapo office in Okakarara.  

In those years, tension between Swapo and the DTA was so “heavy” that you could “cut it with a knife”. 

The contention for those first elections was mainly going to be between those two parties. 

Swapo regarded the DTA as a creation of the apartheid colonial regime, and the DTA regarded Swapo as a “terrorist” organisation that was hell-bent to introduce the radical transformation of society. 

This tension had already gained momentum after the 1978 South African-controlled elections, which Swapo boycotted after the assassination of the Ovaherero chief Clemens Kapuuo in the same year. 

After the assassination of Chief Kapuuo, who was the DTA’s first president, the Apartheid security forces were fanning the flames of a civil war in the country. 

Following that tragic incident, a lot of bloodsheds involving the supporters of Swapo and those of the DTA almost threw the country into a total civil war. 

The campaign period, leading to the 1989 UN-supervised elections, saw the climax of that tension come into full swing. 

Okakarara was a DTA strong-hold, and it was assigned there to help spearhead the Swapo campaign.

 Against the backdrop of that historical political tension, I felt I was thrown into the lions’ den – but the job needed to be done. 

The DTA office at Okakarara was headed by MR Muvi Tjiho.

As the local leaders of the two main parties, we needed to meet, from time to time, to defuse political tensions that could derail the process. 

I remember one such meeting where Kazombiaze and I had to meet the local DTA leadership. 

It was only the two of us on the Swapo side, and Mr Tjiho came with a delegation of about twenty men, armed to the teeth with knobkerries. 

I managed to hold my composure – but truth be told, I was terrified. 

I guess Madiba’s philosophy that “…bravery is not the absence of fear but the judgement that something else is more important than fear” stretched my bravery to the maximum that day. 

I knew that if anything went wrong in that meeting, the two of us could be torn into pieces. 

I was observing Mr Tjiho closely. 

He had such a commanding presence about him. 

He stood head-over-shoulder above his colleagues – both in stature and bearing. You could easily pick him out from the crowd that this man was the leader – even if you did not know him. 

The meeting almost got into a bad start because some of his supporters would not allow us to speak. 

Mr Tjiho just raised his hand in the direction of his supporters, and they all went quiet; you could hear a pin drop. 

We resolved our differences, and the meeting went very well. The 1989 election campaign in Okakarara went without a major incident, and that was partly due to his able leadership as a key player in that process. 

After independence, he served for two terms as the mayor of Okakarara. About four years ago, after he had retired from active politics, we met at Parliament when I was the director in the office of the Speaker. He was now walking on crutches, as age and ailment were catching up on him. 

I jokingly reminded him of the tense days between Swapo and the DTA during the 1989 campaign. 

He quipped: “We now have the policy of national reconciliation in place, don’t we?” We both laughed.

He had served as deputy to late Paramount Chief Riruako, who was the leader of the group of hundred-and-fifty-four men, who had been sent by the legendary Ovaherero Chief Hosea Kutako to receive military training abroad. 

They are celebrated in an Otjiherero folkloric song (omuhiva), titled:“Ovengi mbakaria ongombe osaona”.

 In English, “…those who ate the meat of the red cow in exile and had their fill…” 


ast weekend, he was laid to rest at Orunahi in Okakarara constituency. 

Okakarara lies at the foot of Mount Kaondeka/Waterberg, where the mother of all battles in German colonial history between the thousand times heroic Ovaherero fighters and the German colonial troops took place in 1904. 

May his legacy echo across the ranges of Mount Kaondeka.

 Rest in peace, Muvi Tjiho; you were a worthy political opponent! 

2022-05-13  Gerson Uaripi Tjihenuna

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