Dispute Over National Anthem’s True Author


Hamutenya Claims He Wrote Nation’s Song By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK A tale of two conflicting versions came to the fore yesterday when New Era learned that apparently the words of the national anthem, Namibia, Land of the Brave were not written by composer Axali DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb, but former Information and Broadcasting Minister, Hidipo Hamutenya. However, DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb is sticking to his story that he is the composer of both the lyrics and melody of the nation’s most revered song the national anthem. Hamutenya yesterday contradicted DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb’s version. New Era became privy to this information when on a routine story buzz where comment was sought from Hamutenya on DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb’s dissatisfaction that he is not getting the recognition he deserves as the authentic author of Namibia’s number one lyric. Hamutenya said, I wrote it (national anthem) on the plane to Cuba. He (DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb) was directed to Dora Brand, a South African musician, to guide him in the melody, Hamutenya added. He was then the minister of information and his office was tasked to be the implementing agency for the anthem. According to Hamutenya, despite writing the anthem, he took a backseat, as he did not want to arouse debate from opposition parties. However, DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb vehemently denies and rejects Hamutenya’s version and maintains that he is the authentic creator of the words and the melody. He said, It is officially known that the words and the melody were composed by me. To prove the point, DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb produced a document that reads, And whereas Axali DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb is desirous of assigning to the Government of the Republic of Namibia for the aforementioned purpose the copyrights in the words and music of the said composition. He confirmed that he (DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb) met with Brand in London to make sure of the correctness of the work. A few changes had to be made to perfect the final product, he said. DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb lamented that Namibians seem not to know who he is but little recognition of his work has been forthcoming. “I have expectations and these have not been met. Even if some people appreciate me in words, with that I still remain hungry,” he said. It all started when the country gained independence in 1990. Just like other countries did when they gained freedom, Namibia had to create a national symbol in song and someone with a music talent had to do the job. Given his musical background, DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb entered the national anthem competition. Using the melody that he improvised on during the memorial service of the assassinated Anton Lubowski, DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb transcripted this melody into staff notation. “During the memorial service of Anton, all efforts to get the material for the song together failed but I could hear a melody in my head. I played what I heard and when the call from government came for someone to compose the national anthem, I remembered that melody.” He added that a teacher then at Goeregab Primary School, Alpheua Uiseb, had recorded the melody and that made it easy for DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb to transcript this into what today has become the national anthem. With a great need for the lyrics, DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb travelled the four corners of the country soliciting words from Namibians of different backgrounds. I spoke to Namibians of different cultures, asking what they would prefer to hear. One talked of the brave nation, another of the beauty of Namibia. This question was put to everyone, from a layman to the top person in society, he reminisced. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had a final say in the selection of the words and his work proved to be of the expected quality. At its launch, the name of the national anthem was announced as ‘Namibia, Land of the Brave’. It represents the history of Namibia and its people. It describes their will to survive amid hardships and, most importantly, their love for their country. It reminds the public never to forget the past, but also to strive for national unity. Although he contends he composed the song with the sense of responsibility and duty for his motherland, DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb says he does not get the recognition he deserves. He argues that there are other Namibians who have made the country proud through their talents and have been recognized by the government and the public at large, even materially. Apart from the recognition he received at the launch of the anthem, which included a diplomatic passport and what he termed a few other small tokens of appreciation, he said nothing is left apart from the words of the anthem displayed on national television when it opens every morning. To him, each time he hears his masterpiece, he says “it brings the feeling that I am free and the past is over. It is time to sing and tell joy.” DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb acknowledges that some people regard him as a hero in his own right, even though he believes the treatment from Namibians is selective. He adds, ” I miss the recognition, I do not feel it. I would want someone to show that they remember what I have also done.” His last prayer is that the government will soon spread its consideration for helping even those who have contributed largely during post-independent Namibia as it has done with the decision to create a Ministry for War Veterans. Hamutenya commented that nothing was promised to any musician who would create the melody of the national anthem. He nevertheless confirmed that DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb was given the honour to travel to all Namibian embassies around the world. Currently, DoÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚«seb runs his own music studio in town. He believes music is an instrument with the potential to bring people together to a cause. He said music could be used as a tool to encourage people to work together to develop the nation. Doeseb, a former Martin Luther High School student, developed his talent when he participated in the Lutheran church youth conferences that were regularly held across the country. He played the piano and also worked with brass instruments. After matriculating in the 1970s, he was sponsored by a good Samaritan to study music in Germany for four years where he obtained a B. Music qualification from Landes, now called Kirchen Music College. Through distance learning he also received a Musicology qualification from Marlborough University in the United Kingdom.