Meet the bowstring maestro

31 July 2019 | Art and Entertainment

The 60-year-old Shilengifa shaNaimbudu has urged youth and children not to take their cultural and traditional practices for granted, as they will be useful to them one day.

He said has been singing and playing the musical bow or bowstring (okambulumbumbwa or okayaya) for the past 54 years.

ShaNaimbudu said he has been surviving on this traditional musical instrument and other artistic products he has been making since he lost his job at a farm in the south in 1990.

Born in Ohangwena, ShaNaimbudu started playing the bow at the tender age of six.

At the age of 10 he went to Oshimholo in Angola to look after his father's cattle.

“While taking care of my father's cattle at a post at Oshimholo, my love and passion for singing and playing the bow grew deep, as it always kept me busy and I could enjoy it while herding the cattle,” he said.

“When I grew up, in 1987, at the age of 18, I went through the contract labour system and I went to work at farms in Okahandja.

"I could still play my bow to entertain my colleagues. In 1990, I lost my job and come back home,” ShaNaimbudu said.

“In 1995 I took part in the first annual National Arts and Cultural Festival that took place at Swakopmund, where I won.

"I was therefore approached by agents from the national broadcaster and my songs started playing on the Oshiwambo radio station; something that started bringing me money.”

ShaNaimbudu said while at Oshimholo he learnt many artistic skills that helped him earn an income.

“Since 1990 I did not work, but I could use my art skills to produce items that I could sell, to earn an income to support myself and my family.

“My advice to the youth and children is to take culture and tradition seriously. It can be rewarding at one point in life, because one can never knew where you will end up. If it was not for the culture and tradition that I preserved, I could be in poverty at this moment.

“I am thankful that the government has made art and culture a part of their curriculum; it is now up to the elders to make sure that they pass everything they know to the younger ones,” ShaNaimbudu added.

ILENI NANDJATO