Otto Gotlieb (OG) had a candid conversation with Marais Sadrag Nakale
(N) at his residence at Ekoka in the Ohangwena region recently, a discussion that would later prove to be one of Nakale’s final interviews with the media in which he shared the story of his life…
OG: How did your musical journey start?
N: In the past, my brothers and I would record ourselves on cassette tapes and give them away to people, not knowing that they sold the tapes. I was eventually approached by John Walenga to join his record label because he felt I had potential. I started working for Omalaeti, but shortly before that, my late brother Abednego ‘Mupaeka’ Nakale, a cousin Erastus Makili and I recorded our first a capella album, ‘Vakwaita vokOkongo’ in 2008. After joining Omalaeti, I invited my brother and another cousin and we recorded two albums before my brother passed away in 2009, when Walenga advised me to continue singing as a solo artist. I recorded a total of five albums at Omalaeti, then started my own record label – Oupyu Production where I also recorded five albums. I also recorded another album with Arafath that we were not able to finish.
OG: How did the group founded by you and your brothers, Ovakwaita vokOkongo, come to be?
N: My father, Timotheus Nakale, used to be an evangelist. My brothers and I were the lastborns as triplets, all with the condition of albinism. As our father would sing church hymns, we started spicing up the hymns. As we grew older, we started drinking otombo and epwaka (fermented drinks), so people would buy us these brews in exchange for our performances. Growing up in Okongo, we had no exposure to modern recording studios, which is why we just sang anything that came to mind. When we became popular, people would come to pick us up from all over the country and we performed for them but they never paid us.
OG: How many children do you have?
N: I have three children, 25, 12 and 6 years old. The lastborn is the only one who lives with me.
OG: Why didn’t you record any music videos?
N: I’m not even on social media. People would record videos of me on stage wherever I performed which would then circulate on social media. I believe this is how I became well known throughout the country.
OG: What are your future plans?
N: Over the past four years, my health has been of great concern to me. One day I am well, the next day I am not. So, I might not be able to continue with my musical journey due to my health but I wish to commit the rest of the time I have left to work on my life, to leave a legacy for my children. As is common among us Africans, we go to towns to work and return home at some point. So, as a senior citizen, it’s time for me to be calmer and pray for my health to get better.
OG: Anything you’d like to add?
N: I wish to appreciate radio stations across the country for playing my music, however, I am concerned with the new generation of radio presenters who only play music by their fellow youngsters. Secondly, I would like to request that the government do better in recognising musicians while they are alive. A good example is the late Tate Kwela, a great musician of our time. While he was alive, he barely got any support. He walked around on foot with his guitar. When he died, he was even given an award at the Namibia Annual Music Awards and his music was popularly played. So, 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.