His voice had became hoarse, a far cry from the one that blasts from jukeboxes and in taxis around the country.
Known for his charisma and at times vulgar, outrageous but comedic lyrics, Marais Sadrag ‘Sisande’ Nakale captured the hearts of many with what he came to call ‘blue music’ in the Oshikwanyama dialect.
“We will never forget you,” a fan wrote online on Sunday following news of the musician’s death.
Three weeks prior, he had his final interview with The Namibian while battling a terminal illness. The disease had affected his vocal chords.
He had just celebrated his 60th birthday on 4 September, a milestone he had been looking forward to.
“I want to celebrate my 60th birthday in style, as a milestone in my life. I would like to thank God for having been with me throughout my journey,” he said during the interview.
He marked the occasion by slaughtering two cows and inviting family and friends to celebrate with him.
THE EVANGELIST’S SON
It is a hot Tuesday afternoon in the heart of the tranquil village of Ekoka where Nakale welcomes The Namibian.
He settles comfortably into his favourite chair beneath the protective embrace of a well-crafted shade structure.
He is clad in a baby-blue shirt, black pants, and adorned with a hat and shades.
He begins to recount his music journey.
It all started with a hymn book, he says.
“My father’s name was Timotheus Nakale, and he used to be an evangelist. My brothers and I were the lastborns as triplets, all with the condition of albinism. So, as our father would sing church hymns, we started spicing up the hymns he used to sing,” he says.
He remembers that as they grew older and started drinking traditional brews such as otombo and epwaka, local villagers would buy them drinks in exchange for a performance.
“Growing up at Okongo, we had no exposure to modern recording studios, which is why we just sang anything that came to mind.
“So, when we became popular, people would come to pick us up from Ruacana and all over the country, so we performed for them, but they never paid us anything.
“I later found a job at Oshakati Pharmacy, and this was when I became exposed to town life,” he says.
He says in the past, he and his late brother would record themselves on cassettes and give them to people, not knowing they sold them.
“I was eventually approached by John Walenga, who asked me to join his record label, as he felt I had potential. So I started working for Omalaeti, but shortly before that, my brother Abednego ‘Mupaeka’ Nakale, myself and a cousin, Erastus Makili, had recorded our first acapella album, titled ‘Ovakwaita vokokongo’ [The Guys from Okongo].”
Nakale released his 10th and final album last year, titled ‘Manikie’.
He says his journey has been one of profound fulfilment.
“With the proceeds from my music, I’ve built my own home, acquired several vehicles, and ensured my children’s education,” he says.
“Throughout my journey, I’ve witnessed everything align in my favour, with struggles barely making an appearance,” he says.
What sets Nakale apart from his peers is that despite having released 10 studio albums, he has not released a single video.
“My fellow musicians often chase fame through music videos, but I’ve taken a different route,” Nakale says.
“I’ve never released a music video, yet the fame I’ve garnered . . . all credit goes to my dedicated fans, “ he says.
Nakale highlighted the importance of doing good while people are still able to appreciate it.
“I would like to request for the government to do better in recognising musicians while they are still alive,” he says.
“A good example is the late Tate Kwela, a great musician from our times. While he was alive, he barely got any support.
“He walked around on foot with his guitar, but when he died, he was even given a Namibian Annual Music Award and his music was popularly played,” he says.
“My final remarks would be to encourage the nation to do good for people while they are still alive, as opposed to buying expensive coffins when people die.”
Nakale spent his last days at Windhoek Central Hospital, his family says.
Family representative Agnes Sakaria says his last days were not the most pleasant.
“He would collapse more often than usual, he was weak and unable to speak well, which was honestly sad to see,” she says.
According to her, he was in bed most of the time, often concerned about his condition.
“The happiest I have seen him in his last days was during his birthday celebration a few weeks ago,” Sakaria says.
“He requested us to play his music throughout the party and he mostly enjoyed his track titled ‘Mokombada’ [In the Heavens],” she says.
Sakaria says the family stood by Nakale during his last days, caring for him and ensuring his well-being.
She says one of his last wishes was that he didn’t want a big funeral.
“He told us he didn’t want to be buried in an expensive coffin, but would rather want the family to invest in a good tombstone so his grandchildren and anybody else could see where he was laid to rest,” she says.
Nascam chief executive Albert Nikanor says the organisation has an initiative in place to support members in the event of death.
“We are aware of the hardships faced by our musicians, and as a result, the board members decided to commit to a contribution of N$3 500 to help with funeral preparations. This amount will be given to Nakale’s family,” he says.
Nikanor says royalties will be paid to Nakale’s listed beneficiary.
He says Nakale was well known throughout the organisation’s structures, and more so for the work he has done on anti-piracy campaigns.