By Moses Magadza
A NAMIBIAN part-time musician has just released a 10–track album that seems to have propelled him into great expectations.
Erkki “Ombwale” Koukulunhu’s debut album, Kala Pembili (Be in Peace) appeared on the Namibian musical scene in spectacular fashion last week and is competing with the works of established musicians for the attention of listeners.
Born at Kalongo, Omusati in northern Namibia in 1976, the soft-spoken Koukulunhu says – almost apologetically – that music is not his full-time pre-occupation.
“My brother music is not my career. It is my hobby. At independence in 1990, I saw Ndiilimani Cultural Group and I liked their music and dance. Their music had a heavy Congolese kwasa kwasa beat and I liked it. It inspired me to some day release my own music with that sort of beat,” he said.
In 2000 he and two other Namibians formed a music group, Efa Musica. The group recorded six songs but failed to release an album and broke up after a row over the proposed albums cover design.
In 2005, he approached some musicians and began working on his own album.
“My music is kwasa kwasa, but I sing in Oshiwambo and English. I plan to set up my own permanent band. In the meantime, I hire guitarists from other bands to play for me. For example, the guy that played lead guitar for me on this album is the lead guitarist for Ndilimani. I have my own dancing queens and guys,” he said.
He, however, said that the cost of musical instruments is prohibitive and it may be a while before he has his own band.
Turning to the message in his debut album, he said: “I sing about peace; the virtue of hard work and honesty; tolerance and understanding among people; I sing about humility and encourage people not to think they are smarter than their contemporaries.”
He said although he is convinced that he did his best on the whole album, one song was closer to his heart.
“My favourite is My Sweet Pie. I am a married man and so I sing about my beloved wife, without whom my life is worthless. I got married in 2002 and my wife and I have three children. Through the song, I express my love for her. She is my sweet pie.
I want other men to respect their wives and be proud of them. Often, I read about men beating up or abusing their wives. This is not right,” he said.
The fourth song on the album, Kulipi raises some pertinent issues including distribution of national wealth.
“I sing about the beauty and resources of our country. For example, we have an ocean in Namibia, yet few people have access to or can afford fish. Everybody must have a fair share of the national cake.
My question to our leaders in this song is: where should we go to have a good life, the price of food is going up?”
Koukulunhu was raised by his grandmother and pays tribute to her through a song, Meekulu.
“In this song, I call for unity in families and for elders to play their role of advisors. The song Wakamanya is also dedicated to my late grandmother who paid my school fees,” he said.
The musician also calls for continental integration in the song Africa Unite.
“If we fight corruption, poverty and diseases, Africa will be a great continent,” he said.
Axupifange ft Shekeni (My God saved me) was written after two serious accidents in which Koukulunhu nearly died.
“In 2001, I was involved in a car accident during which I broke my neck and spent nearly six months in hospital, yet I fully recovered, I am singing again. Only God could have saved me. Last year I was involved in another serious accident, but escaped unhurt.”
A promotional video for Kola Nombili has been produced.