Ndilimani Cultural ensemble which made a name for itself singing revolutionary songs to motivate liberation war heroes to continue with a bitter struggle that saw them dodging bullets from settler colonialist has transformed itself into a musical school that trains school dropouts the art of strumming the guitar among many traits.
While the memories of a bitter liberation struggle that PLAN fighters went through to liberate the country are still vivid in the minds of the Namibian populace 25 years after independence, Jessy Nombunza the Operations Manager of Ndilimani believes the group saw the need to have a relevant set up after the attainment of independence and established a training facility where those that do not have the acedemic ability in school can venture into music.
Perhaps their belief is that music is a universal language and the same way it gave morale to the liberators of this country when their courage was battered talent today, they will use their artistic ability to nurture talent and continue celebrating independence in a manner acceptable to the young generation.
Ndilimani is popular for composing revolutionary songs and saw the introduction of the popular sele dance as a way to keep up tradition, the dance involves waist wiggling and energetic dance moves. These African women believe they are on the right path towards remaining relevant as part of a group of contemporary heroes who focus their time on improving the lives of others with their tradition.
“It is not easy to see your fellow students pursuing their studies while you cannot do the same, it is not a good feeling but we try our best to encourage them that failing is not the end of the world and we also tell them that after failing high school they can always fall on music as it does not need any sort of intellectual prowess. We teach them how to play guitar and all the necessary instruments, you will be amazed if you see them playing,” Nombunza says.
In 2013 about 13 young musicians graduated from the Music Training Programme which is a joint venture between the National Youth Service (NYS) and the Ndilimani Cultural Troupe.
“Training creates a platform for economic growth and business development and will significantly contribute to the elevation of young people,” says Nombanza.
Although many have a rather tough time finding the energy and strength to churn out songs in the middle of the bush amid a shower of enemy bullets Nombanza says it was not all war during the liberation. There were moments when fighters needed some time to just dance and clear their minds.
When there were tough, Ndilimani never backed down but always took that opportunity to entertain the sons and daughters of the soil.
Nambanza heroicly describes the situation of the war and recognizes the sacrifice of the liberators “People did not really understand what used to happen back then and how people performed music in a war, but every day was not a day of war, there were normal days like this. In 1989, Ndilimani had 32 members and we currently have 15 members consisting of six trainers, three females and six males. We wanted to make the band consist of ladies only but then we thought that wouldn’t be interesting,”
Nombanza also says, “Ndilimani has produced many albums celebrating Namibia as an independent country and paying homage to the sacrifices of Namibian heroes and heroines. Although most founding members of the troupe have since passed on or left the band is still going strong as the only surviving liberation war cultural troupe “he says.”
Research also shows that the Ndilimani Cultural Troupe shares a rich history within Namibia’s protracted liberation struggle dating back to its formation in 1980.Ndilimani revolutionary music band, performed during the pinnacle of the armed liberation struggle of our motherland. It was the collection of invigorating Ndilimani songs with revolutionary lyrics and powerful rhythms that not only inspired but encouraged the freedom fighters.
When Ndilimani Cultural Troupe was formed it only had rudimentary instruments and as a result Namibian Founding President and father of the Nation took it upon himself to mobilize international funds world for Ndilimani Cultural Troupe until it acquired modern instruments. It was with the same instruments Ndilimani used to mobilize the peoples of the world to rally around the cause.
Ndilimani Cultural Troupe did not only become the greatest entertainer for the masses in SWAPO camps, but it also kept the freedom fighters motivated to achieve final victory.
On the other hand, the troupe’s revolutionary lyrics and powerful rhythms persuaded Namibian youths inside Namibia to join SWAPO abroad and fight for Namibia’s Independence.
The troupe also took to the international stage to inform, entertain and educate the peace loving people around the world about the Namibian peoples’ apartheid plight. Ndilimani toured countries such as Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR), Norway, United States of America, East Germany, Zambia, and Zimbabwe among others.
Ndilimani group says it is their quest to keep memories of the liberation struggle alive.They continue to spread a message still relevant today and have adopted training of youngsters in music as a way of keeping their audience interested.