The amazing African Vocals

10 March 2019 | Art and Entertainment

Swakopmund • Adolf Kaure

Africa Vocals is an all-male a cappella group that hails from Swakopmund and consists of 11 members: Joel Nambuli, Aibeb Eduardo, Tjiposa Markus, Elago Mattheus, Hoaeb Sebulon, Majiedt Theoley, Josef Elia, Kahambuee Kungairi, Romanus Afrikaaner, Sylvanis Hanadaob and Reinhold Innocent.

The group performs mainly authentic African traditional tunes, but is not limited to this genre, as they also perform other kinds of music.

African Vocals, which is managed by Regine Hink, was established in 2012 with the objective to build a group that can promote Namibian cultures and traditions as well as Africa at large around the globe through their music. At the same time, the group also supports school kids on various levels, while striving to empower and encourage young people.

Group member Joel Nambuli spoke to this newspaper about some of African Vocals' achievements so far.

Making their mark

When it comes to highlights, the group boasts various accolades.

“We have undertaken three international tours – in 2014, 2016 and 2017 –to Germany for nothing less than a month each time. Locally, we performed at the Windhoek Jazz Festival in 2018 that featured our friend and 'big brother' Elemotho. Also, our second album, African Vocals Live in Concert, is due in a month's time,” he said.

Another highlight is that two years ago they won the Namibian championships of performing arts in the vocal category. “Having won three gold medals, we qualified to represent Namibia at the World Championship of Performing Arts in Los Angeles.”

Earlier, in 2016, the group participated in the Namibian Talent Show, competing against 250 participants, and ended under the top five.

Looking ahead

At the moment the group is very excited about their next tour. “We depart for Germany on 24 April where we will spend six weeks, performing at different festivals and in 30 different cities across the country. We're also representing Namibia at the Solala a capella competition where we are the only African group participating,” he said. “We are privileged to have qualified for this competition and are definitely taking the Namibian spirit along.”

During the course of their tour, they are either hosting their own shows or performing at festivals. “We're also hosting workshops with many school bands to promote Namibia.”

The only negative aspect of the tour is that due to financial challenges, only eight of the 11 singers can travel along to Germany.

Still, says Nambuli, “the purpose of the tour is mainly to promote our music, build a good relationship and friendship between the two countries [Namibia and Germany] and raise funds so that we can come back and invest in our country.

“Air Namibia is our only sponsor, but we're hoping to get a few more helping hands on board. We have a tour brochure which we will be handing out at all our shows in Germany. It consists of information about Namibia, the African Vocals story and has room for adverts to promote sponsors. There is still opportunity for companies wanting to be part of the booklet,” he said.

More than music

However, according to Nambuli, it's not just about the music for them: African Vocals loves supporting different educational organisations with the funds they raise from their tours. “The tour is specifically aimed at raising funds to support educational projects and schools in Namibia,” he said.

He explained that some of the funds generated by their tour to Germany will help the community, especially in Swakopmund. “It is our objective to support students financially where possible. At the moment we're focusing on less privileged kids and projects that boost Namibia's educational system in Swakopmund. In future we hope to do this in every Namibian town and village,” he said.

In this vein, he invited Namibians from all walks of life to join African Vocals in this project.

“Our mission is two-fold: We want to be ambassadors for authentic Namibian music and culture, while using African Vocals to set an example and be role models for young people by showing them what can be achieved when you have a dream and work hard towards realising it.”

Spirit of Namibia

“We would love to tour the world to spread the spirit of Namibia and a message of peace and unity. At the moment most of our support comes from Germany which enables us to tour that country.

“If we have some support in Germany, why can't we have it in our own country?”

In this light, African Vocals hope to solicit support from local business owners and individuals to help them boost their outreach project.

Nambuli also spoke about how the members deal with challenges.

“Challenges are always there and will forever be. The best remedy is to listen and observe. If you made a mistake, try not to repeat it.

“Spreading the message of peace and unity keeps us together and leads us. Of course there are also the many blessings we receive from of God.”