By John Ekongo
The memory of John Pandeni will definitely linger on for eternity and when chanced upon to review an album from musical production house Omalaeti, I jumped at the opportunity.
Needles to say I had been covering the events surrounding the burial of the late Pandeni quite extensively and I deemed no one was better placed to do justice to this album dedicated to the late minister.
I knew that by the exploits of John Walenga, the album would be an exceptional product. But “exceptional” was an understatement – frankly I underplayed the genius and the superb quality of music contained in this album.
Before I dwell on a cacophony of words, what sets this piece apart?
If you are a Namibian who values the diversity of this country, then this is it. The works contained in this album are derived from a medley of Namibian artist, from all the 13 regions of the country.
You have a song by Swartbaster, who strangely sings another sokkie in his mother tongue of Rukwangali Ependa Ndja Namibia. This is a nicely well-mellowed song and its undertones represent a nice vivid memory of the legacy of John Pandeni.
My personal favourites would be tracks 7 and 3, both by a group called Aamentu Ya Tyaka. Never heard about them but I like their pieces called Ondjilla Ya Pandeni and Nekandangala Lyombandje.
This 14-track work is an appreciation art in the form of a tribute to a true son of the soil.
What struck me most is the diversity of the songs and the compilation done by the artists – there is no language that is not represented on this album.
In a way it portrays the exact image of John Pandeni, a people’s person and a gentleman who could fit in anywhere and everywhere.
Having sugar-coated all the good words, is it an album for any individual – both young and old?
On that score I can definitely recommend that any man/woman who has a following of this country’s history gets himself/herself a copy.
For the young minds it is just about the right thing to get for your next history project. But the trick was in the pudding, Omaleati went a notch up by being inclusive of all and voices of young generation artists are also heard in this album – artists such as PDK, Tate Buti, Pedrito Heita.
The flip side is that it can also be classified as another political CD. There is no denial of this fact but if you look at it on that score the only politics on this album is the fact that it is a tribute to a former politician John Pandeni – its content though is historical, and that should be the message – the history of our heroes.
It is the sort of album that will do justice at shebeens, mbashus, with taxi drivers and hardcore politicians and opinionated professionals. Caution: do not expect much from the young Namibian of the MTV Base generation.
The album forms part of a Culturally Yours Concepts by Omalaeti.
It is an attempt to commercialise traditional and cultural songs under the branding of “21st Much” so that they are kept for posterity as well as move with modernity.