Grandad of Namibian Pop Music "Is Not Done Yet"

Taby Moyo

Windhoek, Namibia - Aug 2007

  • Opens in a new tab
  • Opens in a new tab
  • Opens in a new tab
  • Opens in a new tab
  • Opens in a new tab

Without a doubt, JACKSON KAUJEUA, aged 53, has single-handedly put Namibian pop music on the world map. Kaujeua is Namibia’s most internationally celebrated musician, composer and gospel singer, whose career kicked off in the 1970s during the country’s struggle for independence.

Apart from entertaining thousands of fellow countrymen, Kaujeua’s music inspired Namibians in their struggle for self rule. “Brother Jack”, as he is affectionately known by his fans, was born a member of the Herero ethnic group in Huns, a village near the southern Namibian town of Keetmanshoop.

Later, he broke off an education as a priest at the mission school of Otjimbingwe after he came into contact with the songs of singers like Mahalia Jackson, whose human rights-related lyrics inspired him. In 1973 he started studying music at the “Dorkay Art & Music college for talented Non-Whites” in South Africa. However, he was soon expelled from the country for anti-apartheid activism. After a short time in Botswana, the SWAPO movement helped him to move to Britain, where he soon became the lead singer of the group Black Diamond.

From then on, Jackson’s international success went on a roller coaster ride. With at least 10 albums under his sleeve, Jackson still maintains that he is not done yet as a musician. “I am not done yet, I’m just lying low. In this business you don’t retire, I will die on stage. I will go to the grave with my guitar,” he says, while taking a puff from his cigarette. He adds: “I’m the pathfinder, now I want others to follow the path that I have created. I want young musicians to stand on my shoulders and water the seed that I have planted”.

Jackson, who has cultural exchange gigs lined up in the United States of America during October, says he has been experimenting with different styles of music and that plans for yet another release had reached an advanced stage. “Plans are also under way to release a compilation album,” he says.

A major concert to celebrate Jackson’s musical career is also billed to take place towards the end of 2007, with mega African artists such as Miriam Makeba, Oliver Mutukudzi, Hugh Masekela, to name but a few, being lined up to perform.

“The aim is that the musical tribute will culminate in the creation of a Jackson Kaujeua Trust Fund which will be used to help promote upcoming Namibian artists,” says the legendary musician. In recent years, Jackson was heavily involved in Norwegian-sponsored cultural projects, and he has spent much of his time playing and recording in Europe.

Last year, Jackson Kaujeua’s musical journey was transformed into a a theatrical performance, ‘The Lion Roars’, which was staged at the National Theatre of Namibia (NTN). The production was the brainchild of Sandi Ruud who had for years been toying with the idea of transforming Kaujeua’s life story into a full-scale theatre production. “I always thought the story of his life would be an interesting theatrical piece to study. The idea was driven by my curiosity in Jackson as a person and an artist.”

The musical journey, ‘The Lion Roars’, weaves together anecdotal tit-bits and interesting stories from Kaujeua’s autobiography, Tears over the desert.