For the love of music - elemotho

By Michael Tambo
April 2012
Other Articles
If music be the food of love, then play it on, give me excess of it, that surfeiting, the appetite may sicken and so die, said Duke Orsino; a character in one of William Shakespeare’s plays.

These are the words that are encrypted inside one’s heart at the sound of Elemotho’s melodious and poetic music. Elemotho is Namibia’s well travelled artist with a seven-piece band that fuses bass and electric guitars with mbiras, flutes, drum kits and African percussions.

Elemotho G R Mosimane is amongst Namibian artists taking the local music industry to a higher dimension, not only on a local scale but globally. The Namibian-born musician composes records and performs a mixture of social commentary and a celebration of local Namibian and African reality with a certain degree of spirituality, sung in Setswana (his mother language), English and other Namibian languages.

Elemotho grew up in East Kalahari at a farm where he stayed with his grandmother whose evening stories around the fire inspired him later in life to create something out of that experience.

“As a result of my childhood background, I developed a special respect for what the hands can do, even though I had never thought of it as an art. Maybe that was because I was kind of a meditative kid and quite reserved,” says Elemotho.

His music is simply a tool through which he tells his story; the stories about Kalahari and Namibia as a whole.

“I wanted to tell my story of the east coast of Namibia through my music. Music has a spiritual power and element in it and my desire is to make people feel my music; that is why I do live music, which is not prepared but spontaneous, instant and gets better every time. Art has become a combining factor for me and music is power. Whenever I sing, I always want to hit listeners with that power.

He does not classify his music under any particular style saying that his music is not targeted for a peculiar market but to all groups of people and nationalities who can listen and appreciate his work.

“I set out to touch people’s hearts and minds and not to make money. Money only comes as people’s appreciation to my music but I sing to tell my story,” he says adding that he sees himself as a performing artist and musical activist who likes to throw reality around, thus exploring the depth of the human spirit.

Elemotho’s passion for music started developing in 1997 whilst he was still enrolled as a second year student at the University of Namibia (Unam) where he was studying for an honours degree in African Philosophy and Psychology.

For anyone qualifying to enroll at any university, music should be a last priority but for Elemotho, fate had a stronger hand during his college days. He says music had a more convincing aura than any other module. Irresistibly, Elemotho started hanging around the campus musicians, a group that was then known as the The Legends, later named Unam Band and finally Tcoqma.

He started by doing cover versions and within a year; he was the lead vocalist performing his own songs. In 1999, he was awarded with two Music Makers’ prizes with his former band, Tcoqma. After the band members parted ways, he decided to focus on his own musical career and with the support he received from the Franco Namibian Cultural Center (FNCC), Elemotho recorded his solo album The System is a Joke.

As a person coming from a theatrical and visual arts background, Elemotho has written sound tracks for both theater and film, of which some of his credits include Mogomotsimang; a musical theatre piece performed in Hannover, Germany for the year 2000 Expo. He has also composed music for local films such as Big Mouth, Open Minds and the popular Namibian series, Savannah Stories.

Recently, Elemotho was selected to represent Namibia and Africa to perform at the Volkswagen 50th Anniversary celebrations at the German Historical Museum in Berlin.

The invitation was combined with a European tour of Elemotho’s Quartet, where they will share his sound in Germany (Berlin Frankfurt, Brandburg and Heidelberg) as well as in Spain (Madrid Valencia and Barcelona).

One of his songs, Kgala! Namibia from the album The System is a Joke, was selected by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism as the theme song for Namibia’s bid to host the Adventure Tourism Summit 2013; a clear indication of the appreciation and relevance of his music to the nation and the world at large.

“My music is mostly bought by tourists, thanks to the fans who like the music. It is the music that has made me see the world. The glory, fame and everything comes from the music; the roots through which fruits are born.

“I want to keep on playing live music and I want to go global and advance my music to an international market. Travelling has opened my mind and the horizon of the world. My vision has also been increased. The experience I got from the tours is wealth to me, which no one can ever take away from me,” he stresses.

Talking about the local music industry, Elemotho says, “The country’s music industry is getting better. As Africans, we have great talent but we should be able to tell our story as Africans through our African music and stop trying to imitate American artists.

“I want to advise fellow artists that we should be there to give fans what is worth their money. We should resort to doing live performances because DVD sales are now deteriorating due to piracy. For me, practice does not make perfect but it results in better music,” concludes Elemotho. PF