Jackson Wahengo poised to rule Zimbabwean festival

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WINDHOEK– Namibian Reggae and  Shambo singer, guitarist Jackson Wahengo, and his four piece band will fly to Zimbabwe to perform at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) from April 28 to May 3.

HIFA is a six day annual festival and workshop programme that showcases the very best of local, regional and international arts and culture in a comprehensive festival programme of theatre, dance, music, circus, street performance, fashion, spoken word and visual arts. HIFA has come to be seen as an important symbol of something positive about Zimbabwe, unifying socially and culturally disparate groups of Zimbabweans at a time of ideological conflict and political uncertainty bringing huge audiences together to celebrate the healing and constructive capacity of the arts.

This is not only Jackson’s first appearance at the festival but the first to be sharing the stage with the Golden Voice of Africa, Salif Keita. “We’re a headliner for HIFA and as you can imagine, as a Namibian, I am honoured to play in the great Zimbabwe at a festival that brings together so many people from across our continent. I am excited, thrilled and totally ready to take on the stage. I am bringing my band from Switzerland and it’s the first time we gig together outside of Europe. I feel really happy about bringing them to southern Africa and let them step on to the mother continent to really feel the vibe from the ground. They are equally excited, if not more.” Jackson cannot just overcome the excitement  of playing alongside a amster like Salif . “As one of the musical gurus he is also someone that inspires and reinvigorates our continental music scene. It will be fun,” he says.

Jackson’s four piece band comprises of Cyril Moulas on guitar, Timothy Verdesca on bass, Mauricio Salamanca Sanchez on sax and Andrew Fluckiger on the drums.  He says he will take his music to represent Namibian as a whole because of what it encompasses.  “My music is inspired by our Namibian musical traditions, cultural heritage and what has happened in our society in the past and what happens today. And so it is my music that will represent.  All of my songs are in Oshiwambo and my lyrics often build on Oshiwambo proverbs, traditional song and chants,” says Jackson.

Jackson released his debut album Aktutu Hewa in 2012, with support from the Namibian National Arts Council and the Swiss Cultural Cooperation Office, Artlink. He has been based in Geneva, Switzerland in the heart of Europe since 2008 and is our main man for taking Namibian-made music to elevated heights across Europe. Eeloli is his latest release in 2014 and interpretation of the Namibian folk singer Nanghili Nashima’s song by the same name. He says that the remake of Eeloli is “a celebration of Nanghili Nashima’s strength, creativity and impact on Namibia´s traditional music, as well as a reason to show and tell about the power of African women in influencing music in the region”.

Jackson makes his point well with a contemporary statement in relation to Namibia’s own challenges with gender equality today that “tradition has, unfortunately, often failed to lift women in the history of African music in an industry dominated by men.”

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