There has been an outpouring of grief from mourners on the passing of artist Maria Tuna-Omukwathi Uushona, known as Tunakie, the Queen of Otyaka.
She passed on over the weekend and her death was confirmed to the media by her producer Trace Garren.
Many went to social media to express their disbelief and comfort the family that has this dark cloud hanging over them. The cause of death is still not known. The Namibian reported over the weekend that Tunakie’s aunt said the singer died after collapsing in a salon in South Africa without divulging much information.
Gospel artist Naftalie Shigwedha Amukwelele, known as D-Naff, said he still hasn’t made sense of what transpired.
“I have been trying to sleep but it’s just not coming. How do I unhear this news? The memories, the travelling, the contribution, the flights, the albums, the awards, the jokes. Why? What now? What’s next? So, rest in peace my friend. You will forever be a treasure. Oshagwana,” posted D-Naff on Facebook, accompanied by a collection of pictures he has taken with the ‘Ondjila’ hitmaker.
The King of Shambo, Set-son Wahengo said no words can describe how he feels, especially knowing that Tunakie was about to render her voice on his unreleased project.
“I am petrified by her passing. We were trying our level best to uplift Namibian traditional music, especially Oshiwambo music. About two months ago, we were talking about launching my album where she would come from Cape Town to perform. I always promised we would do it but it never happened. It’s shocking and sudden to hear that she is no more, without being sick even,” Wahengo told New Era yesterday.
Wahengo recalled travelling to China and America with Tunakie to perform and promote Namibian traditional music.
“We collaborated on a project run by the American Embassy, we went with the late Jackson Kaujeua, Axueb, Erna Chimu and Ndilimani Cultural Group. She was a vivacious, strong woman. It was nice working with her. I will not forget her regalia. The way she wore her traditional attire and performed was breathtaking and unique. She is one person whose presence you will forever cherish and feel,” recalled Wahengo.
Tunakie was the epitome of Otyaka music. Otyaka means beautiful woman. Former broadcaster and classmate Tonateni Shidhudhu said Tunakie’s passing is sad not only for them who have shared academic classes with her back in their heyday but the entire country, music lovers and specifically fellow artists.
“We were in the same class in grade 11 and 12 at Nehale Senior Secondary School in the Oshikoto region. She always loved singing and we were not surprised, after school that she became a musician.” Kwaito musician Albert Uulenga, known as Mushe, said it is sad news for the music industry.
“It is very sad news to the entire industry. Tunakie was down to earth and an easy person to work with. I think it’s time we start supporting our artists while they are still alive,” commented Mushe.
Singer Daphne Willibard, known as Oteya, said Tunakie was one of the kind and she has contributed greatly to the music industry, especially to Shambo music. “She will be dearly missed,” added Oteya.
Born in Angola 38 years ago, Tunakie moved to Namibia with her parents at the age of eight and was raised by her grandmother in Ontananga village before moving to the capital. Her singing career started earlier when she sang and danced for a music group called Kakulukadhi Mungunda in Ontananga. ‘Wameme’ which was her debut song, won her the first Sanlam-NBC award. Her other hits include ‘Ekalanyana’, ‘Efeinge’ and many other features like ‘Ha ta Pa te’ where rapper Jericho Jerome Gawanab, known as Jericho, roped her in with Omurari FM radio personality Max ‘T’ Tjiundje.
Tunakie was well known for fusing Oshiwambo traditional music with contemporary music. She is a nine times award winning artist who has performed not only in Namibia but the USA, UK, Austria, China, Dubai and the Czech Republic.