Popular local artist Maria Tuna-Omukwathi ‘Tunakie’ Uushona and her best friend Pamela Nangolo, who died after her in Windhoek last Sunday, were laid to rest over the weekend at Elim village in the Omusati region.
Uushona, who was also known as the Queen of Otyaka, died on 24 April after collapsing in her hair salon in South Africa.
She was 39 years old. It is not yet clear what caused her death.
She was born to Namibian parents in Angola, and was a traditional musician who began singing when she was still a teenager.
Her parents moved back to Namibia when she was eight years old.
She was raised by her grandmother in Ontananga village, and started singing and dancing for music group Kakulu Kadhi Mungunda in Ontananga.
The Queen of Otyaka was the lead singer of the group, but later went solo.
In 2004, she was offered a recording deal by a record label in Oshakati, which she signed.
Her debut song ‘Wameme’ won her the first Sanlam-NBC music award. She later moved to Windhoek, where she began working with session musicians to fuse her Oshiwambo traditional music with contemporary music.
In 2005, she released her debut album ‘Obwila’, followed by ‘Going Back to My Roots’ in 2008. Her other albums include ‘Ondjila’ and ‘Endunge’. In 2014, the Shambo star was nominated at the Kora Awards in the Best Southern African Artist of the Year category.
She has performed in the US, UK, Czech Republic, Spain and Austria.
The untimely death of the legendary singer has not only shocked her friends and family, but her music fans and fellow musicians as well. Her aunt, Angie Nampala, described Tunakie as a true singer and dancer, and an ultimate inspiration with a strong philosophy that was preached through her Shambo genre of music which was spread all over the world.
“She was a very good person. I’m not saying this because she is no more; I’m saying this because it is the truth. Tunakie was down-to-earth, she laughed with everyone, and was an easy-going person to work with,” she said.
She added that Tunakie contributed greatly
to the music industry, and was a star, especially in Shambo music.
Her music partner, gospel musician D-Naff, said Tunakie was like a sister to him, and her death left him speechless. “Who will carry on with her traditional music? Who else can take over our cultural sound in the music industry?”, he asked rhetorically.
D-Naff said at the burial that they are not happy, and have many questions, but hopefully one day they will get the answers to their questions. “Not all our friends are true friends. An honest friend is better than a friend who lies and fakes it. Be very careful of who you share your problems with,” he lamented.
The multi-award-winning Shambo artist had disappeared from the limelight in recent years, with many believing that she would make a comeback with more traditional songs.
Friends, family and those in the music industry thus paid their last respects to the humble artist.