One of Namibia’s leading Kwaito stars, Morocky Mbwaluh, aka The Dogg, recently published his autobiography titled,Ther Dogg: Untold Story. As part of the reading culture campaign launched by the New Era Publication Corporation (NEPC) in conjunction with the Minister of Education, Honourable Dawid Namwandi, Artlife has been serialising this autobiography each Friday.
The first album under RC Ghetto Records was mine, entitled Shimaliw’ Osatana. In simple terms, this means money is a devil or the root of all evil.
But my inspiration for the name originates from the reference to “crime that comes with money.’’ Money can make people do stupid things. Someone may give you money to commit a crime and you will do it. This is reality and therefore my album is just a reflection of our times and the world we live in. The album has ten tracks, seven of which are full songs with two instrumentals and an outro. My favourite track on the album is number four,
Mamma. This is one of the songs I wrote while I was still sleeping in the kitchen of our Grysblock home. I wrote this for my queen, my late mother.
This was a dream come true and I dropped the album in February 2004 at Ongwediva. I signed one copy of the album and gave it to my sister.
Among other things, I won three awards with this album at the Sanlam/NBC Music Awards, namely, Best Selling Artist, Best Kwaito and Artist of the Year. For someone who dropped out of university the previous year, and was still trying to get his life organised, this was quite remarkable and, frankly, the beginning of much more to come. Gaining recognition for my hard work inspired me even more.
Ma Rihana and Charlie were based in Oshakati, a town about 700 km north of Windhoek. Considering that the offices of the record label were in Oshakati, while we, the artists, were in Windhoek, it was a bit unstructured.
Ma Rihana was a very nice person, but things just didn’t work out, and the fact that I never got to see a blue cent from the sales of my first album was a really bad sign for a manager. We seemed cool along the way but as soon as the money started coming in, she surrounded herself with so many people and it was all parties, while we, who worked hard to bring in the money, saw nothing of it. RC Ghetto Records, a record label I helped start and was dependent on my sales for survival, did not feel like home any more. The writing was on the wall. I had to leave.
Sometime in 2004, Uncle Natangwe extended his house in Grysblock and I kissed the kitchen goodbye. Finally, I had my own bedroom. My stay in the new bedroom wasn’t long as I moved out to rent a place in Hochland Park, an upmarket suburb in Windhoek. This was just before we started work on the Omalaeti O Swapo project. Considering that SWAPO is the ruling party of our country, this is one of the biggest projects I’ve been involved in.
I was approached by the late Ben Kamati, a radio presenter and DJ, commonly known as B.K. He called me and said his boss, Mr John Walenga, wanted to see me. Mr Walenga was the Secretary of Economic Affairs for the SWAPO Party Youth League. Upon arrival at his boss’s office, I found Elvo, Gazza and Pablo there. Mr Walenga, the mastermind behind the project, briefed us on the national elections and the role we would play in the SWAPO Party election campaign.
In simple terms, Omalaeti O Swapo means SWAPO’s kids or children or young ones. We assumed the role of SWAPO’s young boys. The Omalaeti project was an initiative where myself and fellow artists like Pablo, Gazza and music producer, Elvo, had to go in the studio and produce good music that would mostly appeal to the youth and, in the process, urge them to vote for SWAPO. It was part of SWAPO’s national election campaign.
Mr Walenga got the four of us to work on this project for the benefit of SWAPO. We even did a song with the incumbent President, His Excellency Hifikepunye Pohamba, and the Founding Father of the Namibian Nation, Dr Sam Nujoma.
When I look back at the Omalaeti project, I feel humbled in knowing that I played a role in ensuring the peaceful transition of power from our first president to our current one. It’s an achievement in its own, not many artists get to do a song with their country’s president, but we managed that.
Everybody had some tracks to work on, and I take pride in the fact that I wrote and produced on this project: we got paid enough at that time. When I reminisce about this, I would not wish to get involved with political parties unless it’s really worth it. I’ve got fans who also belong to other parties and I think this is a sensitive issue.
My relationship with Mr Walenga is still OK, but we don’t see each other as much as we did back then. I am the pioneer to Kwaito music in Namibia, and I think it’s normal for me to take offence when people, Mr Walenga included, criticise Kwaito by saying it’s foreign and not Namibian.
I prefer to look at music universally, and my view is that the close similarities between Namibia and South Africa, play a key role in understanding why young people in both countries tend to share similar tastes in music, fashion, style and language (slang). The backgrounds against which the youth of Namibia and South Africa have been raised are similar, and it is these backgrounds that gave rise to Kwaito as a music genre. Kwaito is street music, and the similarities between the two countries, as far as young people’s perception and behaviour on the streets go, provide a platform for youth in both countries to appreciate similar tastes and trends.
In addition to that, Namibia largely consumes South African products and services, ranging from food to entertainment. In all fairness, not much is done in Namibia that does not depend on South Africa.
Even the likes of Mr Walenga make use of South Africa through CD production for albums. If anything, Omalaeti Production, his record label, was pioneered by the Kwaito album we recorded for the SWAPO campaign. There are many other genres that were and are popular, but his decision to assemble Kwaito artists shows how relevant Kwaito music is to the Namibian Youth.
In addition to that, one does not need to be an expert to note that a legend such as the late Lucky Dube was inspired by other great musicians before him, such as the late Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. This further indicates that you become who you are because of those from whom you have learnt. Great musicians are those that are inspired by various artists but still go ahead and leave their unique marks in this universal industry. (To be continued next Friday)