• December 6th, 2020

Traditional instrumentalist revives indigenous musical arts

Being one of the few Oshiwambo speaking women who play a musical bow called Okambulumbumbwa, Lucia Amunyela is trying to save the slowly dying Oshiwambo musical arts as she embarks on her musical journey.
Okambulumbumbwa is a Namibian traditional instrument made of a curved bow looking stick with a string or wire, and a hollow calabash.
This musical instrument is commonly known to be played by herders at cattle posts up north, used in traditional rituals or initiations and it forms part of the last group of musical bows.

“Growing up in a village headman’s homestead, my siblings and I were strongly advised to always follow our culture and respect our norms. My father taught me how to play the instrument at the age of 12 as part of our cultural practices of Omaitango (Praise poetry) and I am the only one who mastered the instrument among my siblings,” said the talented singer, adding that she wants to preserve the legacy of her father through her music.

Born in Onanona village in the Ohangwena region, Amunyela’s musical voyage was influenced by the likes of 
Kangwe Keenyala, Kakuya Kembale, Kuku Nankili Nanghima, and other Oshiwambo folklore singers.“Many people of my tribe, especially men have lost interest in the culture. The millennials seem more interested in contemporary instruments like pianos, saxophone, and guitars, etc.,” she said before adding that the struggle to keep the Okambulumbumbwa tradition alive began long in the 90s.

Amunyela believes Okambulumbumbwa is less of an instrument and more of a lifestyle, she fondly looks back to the good old days in the late 80s when they (with her siblings) will be sent to perform at ceremonies such as weddings and festivals.
“I would play the instrument while others sing along. It only has a single string but in the right hands, it can produce an incredible variety of sounds,” she frankly said as she demonstrates how it’s played.

She further added that her interest in the instrument prompted her to produce different types of songs, which she wishes to release some time.
“I have a compilation of songs and I want to release a 10 track album, but I need funds to craft my work,” she said while giving a customer a mug of traditional beer from her cuca shop.

The unemployed mother of five stays in a single corrugated room she shares with her boyfriend and their children.
The family makes a living out of the sale of sweets, recharge vouchers, and home-brewed beer.
“I am failing to feed my kids or myself. I am requesting the public to help me with funds so I advance my talent and make a living out of it. I am also willing to start giving instrumental lessons to those who want to learn,” said Amunyela who only makes a profit of N$50 on a good day.
She is appealing to Good Samaritans who can make her dream come true.
“I do not want my talent to go to waste, so if you can help me out that would be massively appreciated,” she ended.

Aletta Shikololo
2020-11-09 07:31:27 | 26 days ago

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