NDJEKE YA WHO?

THE director and lead actor of the local comedy series, Konalenale that has proven to be Namibia’s ever popular locally produced drama, Jekonia Akuunda says the time has come for Government to seriously consider investing in popular culture.

Barely known across Windhoek, Akuunda whose stage name Ndjeke yaMalimba is more than a figurehead among the Oshiwambo speaking communities because of his on-set comic abilities.

Akuunda, 25 is from the new generation of young Namibians committed to put Namibia on the international map through local culture and argues that there is a huge potential in the development of the local film industry that can address poverty and reduce unemployment if the Namibian society embraces local movie products.

“I believe, as a nation, we have a lot to offer to ourselves as well as to the international society and this can be achieved if Government seriously considers investing in the development of the nation’s popular culture industry.”

He says the Namibian nation has its own traditions and values that need to be promoted and encouraged but at the moment these values are being eroded by popular western cultures which have a negative impact on the youth.

Through his movie series, Konalenale which translates to a long time ago, the self-taught movie director and actor says his aim is to promote local culture and language in a way the audience relate to.

Konalenale is an Oshiwambo movie series which was filmed in northern Namibia’s rural Oshiwambo homesteads.

Its plotted on a traditional Oshiwambo man named Ndjeke yaMalimba giIndongo, who was cruel and inconsiderate to his wife and children, yet eating too much appears to be the only thing close to his heart as he has a huge appetite for food.

This man mistreats his wife and children. He is a thief who targets mostly elderly widows’ homesteads and always has bad blood with his neighbours, a setting which brings the best of this Oshiwambo comedian.

Akuunda says although his target audience is the whole Namibian nation, he decided to do the movie series in Oshiwambo because he want to promote local languages and culture.

“Most of the movies produced in the world are done in English or French and showcase western popular cultures at the expense of local cultures. This has a negative impact on the local audience,” he says.

He argues that with development of the local movie industry, the local audience will be able to relate to the movie and its storyline.

According to Akuunda, what makes a good movie is the storyline and how the actors complement each other to convey the message.

“When I write a movie script, I always have my audience in mind, and I try to write and imagine things that will make people laugh and want to follow the story as it unravels,” he elaborates.

He says the market has responded very positively to the Konalenale movie series since he started filming in 2008, as he has become the talk of northern Namibia.

“The DVDs are on demand and in most cases this demand is higher than the supply as I cannot supply the whole market. Namibians who are studying abroad are also demanding the movie series on YouTube and I am working on putting English subtitles so that all my fans can follow the storyline.”

Just like all other popular culture products, Konalenale DVDs have experienced their own share of piracy and Akuunda says he will not rest until all those that pirate his intellectual property are put behind bars.

“Piracy is bad for me and it is bad for the country and the industry in particular, which is why I encourage my fans across the country to buy only original copies of Konalenale DVDs and report all suspected cases of piracy.”

So far Akuunda has put his words into action with several people who pirated his works arrested in Walvis Bay and Oshikango in northern Namibia.

Pirated copies usually cost less than the price of the original, but in the case of Konalenale, illegal traders have been selling the DVDs in the range of N$100 to N$120.

He is in discussions with the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to buy the broadcasting rights of Konalenale movie series so that he can avoid the damage inflicted on his business by piracy.

“If the deal goes through it means I will not sell DVDs but my fans will be able to follow the series on NBC.”

He says the Konalenale series which are so far in parts 1, 2 and 3 will probably run until 2020 as he plans to release part 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 in the years to come.

Part 4 will be released later this year in December, “better sound and picture quality.”

Akuunda is working on a different movie project that will hit the market in June this year and tips it to be better than anything he has touched in the industry.

Konalenale fans have compared Akuunda’s acting talent to that of Nigerian comedian Nkem Owoh of Osuofia in London fame.

Andreas Endjala, a fan of both Akuunda and Owoh, says there is a lot of similarities between the two actors from the way they speak and behave themselves to the way their movies are filmed.

“One thing I like about Konalenale is the Oshiwambo environment in which the movie series is filmed and the way the actors speak, it is like watching a Nigerian movie. I am a strong proponent of African movies by African people which Akuunda and Owoh are both good at,” Endjala says.

Another, Agustus Amoomo says he prefers watching something like Konalenale movie series because he can relate to it instead of watching western movies, “that only serve to culturally imprison our minds and potentials”.

Konvict Namibia Films Productions owned by Akuunda does the filming of the 25 year old comedian’s series.

Akuunda who has since registered with the Namibian Film Commission encourages the Government of Namibia to increase funding to the film commission which is responsible for supporting local filmmakers arguing such a move would go a long way to improve the socio-economic conditions of Namibian youths. PF