• October 1st, 2020

OBITUARY: Sebulon Axue Gomachab

Sebulon Gomachab, popularly known as Axue, who passed on Monday, 16 December 2019, at the age of 50, from a sudden heart attack, was no ordinary musician. Axue had a unique gift of tackling guitar and excelled in acoustic guitar while he was equally adept at adding vocals to his melodies on guitar. Axue was not only a gifted lead guitarist, but was a skillful bass guitar player as well who could sing while strumming guitar chords at the same time. He was a pleasurable well-liked and down-to-earth family man of humble nature. When you give or present something to him, he would always receive while bowing down. Axue had a very minute and clinical disposition in respect to anything he did, no wonder why he could play and strum guitar strings with such accuracy and technical dexterity to produce sound in a manner nobody could. He perfected the ability to play chords and melody simultaneously, thanks to his distinctive thumbing and finger-picking style. While he was born in Windhoek, he grew up in the small village of Okombahe, roughly 80 kilometers west of Omaruru town in the Erongo Region. Here, Axue started his elementary school and proceeded to Dibasen High School which formally opened its doors in Okombahe in 1982. After a fall-out with the school principal, Axue found himself expelled from the school and thus continued to develop his guitar playing skills. 

As a young boy, Axue first experimented playing guitar on the acoustic guitar of his late father who was equally a master guitarist playing Damara traditional folk music most commonly referred to as Namastap. Whenever his father was away from home, Axue would sneak into the bedroom where the guitar was kept and strum some disconnected chords. Each time this happens, he was sure to be lashed whenever the old man returns home. His real break into guitar playing came when he made his own guitar from recycled five litre oil can using fishing wire as strings. This type of guitars are common in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, and are called ramkie (or blik kitaar) in the Afrikaans language. In Damara, they are known as !Gui-tsib. It was while playing this iconic guitar in his boyhood village of Okombahe that he was discovered by some bigger groups who lured him to join them. 

Part of Axue’s guitar playing talents were honed from his occasional drifts in the mid 1980s to the nearby 10 kilometres away Martin Luther High School (MLH) during weekends where he hooked up with seasoned musicians such as Helois //Hoabeb, younger brother of the late trumpet virtuoso Nicro //Hoabeb.

Helois was a prominent guitarist in the school band called The Creations at the time. MLH during that period was known as the unofficial school of musical excellence where the renowned pop group The Ugly Creatures started in 1970. Here Axue and company would engage in long talks with Helois under one of the big shade trees asking questions and learning some new guitar playing tricks. In fact, Axue and his group of youngsters, such the late Samuel Habasen //Hoeb, came to the school over weekends to collect leftover food from the kitchen, especially after lunch time. As Helois related, arrangements were made with the school principal that food should not be thrown away but kept in buckets and given to these youngsters. 

After sometime, Axue emerged as a guitarist of note and started attracting attention from the bigger musical groups from other towns. One such group that he joined as a guitarist early in his career was the Big Chiclets band from Swakopmund. Shortly after independence in 1991, Axueb joined the Mukorob band of the late folk music maestro Jackson Kaujeua where he soon made an impact as a seasoned guitarist. However, it was not until 1997 when he became famous with the release of his first hit single !Uri-piris with his new group Rajisa which won the band the Shell Road to Fame Competition in South Africa. The hit soon became a national anthem among the local Damara punch listeners and catapulted Axue to an instant stardom. Sometime in 1997, the Mukorob band leader, Jackson Kaujeua, left the group to embark on a solo career, thus the remaining band members re-christened the group to Rajisa, which is an acronym formed from the first letters of the first names of the group members. During 2006, he released his first album, Pride of Khomas, that spawned a number of hit songs which made Axue a national household name in Namibia. Throughout his music career, Axue has represented Namibia at various music festivals nationally and abroad to such countries as Nigeria, USA, Canada, Germany and China. In recognition of his musical prowess, Axue was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award during the Nama music awards in 2018, along with another accomplished musician and seasoned drummer, Siegried Ou Jomo !Hoaseb.

Axue was a passionate and creative musician, a virtual walking encyclopedia of the local traditional Damara folk music. A man of immeasurable musical talents, Axue was a musical all-rounder as he could play and sing almost any type of music from ma/gaisa, namastap, mbaqanga, township jive, funk, reggae to gospel music. Axueb’s instantly recognizable voice and his virtuosity with the guitar has taken the local music to a whole new level. He, surely, will be missed. Let His Soul Rest in Eternal Peace!!!

Esau Nowaseb
Longtime friend and confidante

Staff Reporter
2020-01-07 08:24:39 | 8 months ago

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