Guitarists Killa “Hobon’ Kamberipa, Amti, Ou Brite, Rommel and Piet Basson, are twisting the strings in the Katutura Community Hall tonight when they rekindle old memories of the Mbaqanga genre with tunes from the 1960s and 1970s. Damage is N$50 per person and the show starts at 20h00 sharp until the wee hours of the Saturday morning.The musos are all chips of the old blocks like legendary saxophonists Johannes Mureko, aka “Warmgat”, Arnoldus “Xarigurob” //Naweb, Ou Leyden Naftalie, Karretjie Kambrude, Kookwater Hoebeb, Aleb Ouseb and Hosea Kaitindirua Mahua, all of whom kept the musical flames alight during the early years of Apartheid. Carlos “CK” Kambaekwa reflects on the genre as well as previews the rare music show in the Katutura Community Hall.
It’s almost three solid decades since the days of Mbaqanga, that now seems to have gone the inevitable path of the dinosaur. Mbaqanga music originated from neigbouring South Africa in the 1960s, introduced to locals and refined by Namibian immigrants, who went to work in the mines in then Transvaal Province, Gauteng nowadays.
Mbaqanga music is a genre of African township jazz popular among many African musicians of the time and as result a significant number of local bands sprawled the townships musical scene competing for attention, income, and more importantly, supremacy and bragging rights. As it turned out, the musical domain allowed blacks from all different cultures to mingle freely to the excitement of Mbaqanga sounds in beer town halls across the country. Such was the influence of this genre that it became a hotchpotch for socialisation of people from across all cultural persuasions and inclinations, with the attendant love relationships across the cultural bar. Namibia’s commercial capital, Windhoek, attracted the finest live music performers, who flocked to the city of lights en masse, lured partly by the desire for the vast, serene and inviting urban air in search of entertainment and fame.
With time some of these old blocks have been long gone, the way of all flesh, with few remaining. Nevertheless, their legacy has been kept intact by few enthusiastic young musos entering the dog-eat-dog industry of live music.
Sadly, the sudden introduction of Discos, aided by both the fluctuations and feverishness of the music business locally, forced many musical bands to fold under financial pressure and waning interest in live music among consumers.
Now after several years in obscurity, local music producers have come up with a brilliant idea to revive and rekindle Mbaqanga music by piecing together a rare live music show. The gathering cannot but be a promise of fireworks with organisers having assembled a bumper line up of the finest Mbaqanga musos on offer, out to showcase their instrumental artistry. And the Katutura Community Hall, a mecca of live black music of yesteryears, could not have been a better venue for such a musical extravaganza for rekindling the musical era of those years.