M-Connection: The Great Coastal Music Establishment

Apart from the cool weather offered by the Atlantic Ocean during the Namibian summer, Swakopmund also had top-class nightclubs such as New Edition at Tamariskia, Night Owls and Funky Inn at Mondesa, as well as groups like the M-Connection band.

Initially started in 1988 by two childhood friends and former members of the Martin Luther High School band Creation, drummer Chicky Hoeb and keyboardist Manneckey Khoe-Aob, they were later joined by guitarist Andrew Gaweseb.

“The jamming sessions became serious and having been employed by Rössing Uranium mine and based at Arandis, we started playing as a backup band for choirs at the town. I later moved back home to Swakopmund and Chicky [Hoeb] joined me,” narrates Khoe-Aob.

“We continued jamming at home at Mondesa and Abilas //Gaseb, who used to play for the Chiclets, joined us on bass. The band was starting to take shape now and John Narib, who used to come to our jamming sessions, took interest and he joined us on vocals.”

Soon the band started to play at Rössing functions as well.

Khoe-Aob says the name M-Connection was inspired by the group T-Connection, whose hits they used to play with the school band.

Soon, they roped in a second keyboardist, with Axies Gowaseb supporting Khoe-Aob, and Gaweseb left, creating a space for //Gaseb to take over the lead guitar.

“M-Connection started to make inroads into the local music industry, with gigs coming thick and fast. The band’s repertoire was strengthened by the arrival of young bassist Andrew Gaseb paving the way for Abilas [//Gaseb] to move to lead guitar,” says Khoe-Aob.

“We embarked on a lot of cover versions, ranging from Brenda Fassie, London Beat, Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse and the Commodores. With the husky voiced vocalist Gerson ‘Mengo’ Angula bringing the much-needed soul into our repertoire, we were literally on song.”

Live music guru Raes Ochs only has good things to say about M-Connection while pointing out the fact that while all the big bands like Big Chiclets, Children From Pluto, Fingers and #Kharigurob faded out, they kept live music alive in the coastal area.

“The coast was always blessed with gifted musicians and during the era that Windhoek bragged about their Ugly Creatures, Uncle Laiten Naftalie, Baronages and Locomotion, the coastal area was also buzzing with exceptional live bands,” Ochs says.

“With the disappearance of those live bands of yesteryear, M-Connection rejuvenated the local live band scene long before the Desert Tunes of Patrick Thaniseb. They actually started giving a revival voice to the west while Heroes and Silver Stars were the big boys from Okahandja.”

Ochs also points out that their hit ‘/Gamdisi /Gui/as’ should have been the song of the year during the 1990 Music Makers Competition “because they met the basic performance of the standard that a band should have met at the time,” he points out.

“I still regard M-Connection as one of the top bands currently in Namibia with the talent that exists in the band. Chicky [Hoeb] and Manneckey [Khoe-Aob] being two former MLH pupils with a very strong music background and Abilas [//Gaseb] and Andrew [Gaseb] being from Chiclets,” he says.

“The latter two were groomed by the late Immanuel Tsuseb. M-Connection has a very talented bunch of players who understand music and not just playing for the sake of playing. They can still compete with the top bands of our time based on their background.”

The band started playing seriously in 1989 and became a big hit at wedding parties. They graced the wedding reception of Walvis Bay businessman and club owner Nande Muatunga, which was labelled as the wedding of the year at the time.

“Coastal club owners started booking us at their venues, most notably Funky Inn, New Edition and Night Owls at Swakopmund and La Costal at Walvis Bay. We were really busy at the time and we also staged our own gigs at the Swakopmund Amphitheatre,” notes Chicky Hoeb.

“There was little time to rest or to spend quality time with our loved ones. But the business was good and I guess everybody was happy at the end of the day. We also embarked on serious road shows to places as far as Oshakati, Tsumeb, Otjiwarongo, Outjo and Khorixas.”

M-Connection became a household name in northern Namibia as they became regular features at nightspots like Put More Fire, Nakathilo Recreation Club, Club Fantasy at Oshakati and Oneshila and Steps Inn at Nomtsoub, Tsumeb.

It was not until 1990 when the band released its hit single
‘/Gamdisi /Gui/as’, which subsequently became the title of their debut album featuring hit songs ‘Pantsula’ and
‘//Oreba /U’, which became street anthems in the coastal area, Khorixas, Uis and Otjiwarongo.

The band tried having a gig at Mariental but it seems like their repertoire didn’t appeal to the people of the south. That turned out to be their first and last attempt.

John Narib, who joined the band as its lead vocalist in 1989, says he decided to join after he first noticed them rehearsing and they didn’t have a singer at the time.

“We also used to play in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia at Mondesa, then we decided to have live shows in order to buy new instruments. I started singing for a band with M-Connection and I really enjoyed playing with then,” Narib says.

“I started singing songs from Matsikos and Splash from the Dalom staple, then I also covered music by the likes of Sidney, Ziggy Marley, Stimela, Phil Collins, Oyaba, Haddaway among a host of songs by other artists.
M-Connection is undoubtedly a great music establishment.”

Narib says it was one of the band’s proudest moments when they joined other international acts to make the reintegration of Walvis Bay into Namibia a memorable day.

“But the top moment was when we, together with other Namibian acts like Reho Combo, Peter Joseph Auchab and Ndilimani, made history by becoming the first local acts to perform at the first SADC Music and Arts Festival in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1995,” Narib says.

The seven-week event, which also entailed workshops, attracted other top southern African acts from Botswana, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe, led by the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi, Jabu Kanyile and Bayete and Thomas Mafumo and The Afro Sunshine Band.

Meanwhile, Narib promises that while M-Connection is a little quiet the band is still alive and they are even rehearsing whenever they happen to be together at Swakopmund and are also available for bookings.

They are expected to drop their much-anticipated next album later this year.

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