The San, nomadic hunter-gatherer people of southern Africa who have often been referred to as “Bushmen”, are the oldest continuous population of humans on the earth and have been called the “Children of the World.” This project aims to capture the beauty and strength of the San people, celebrating their musical culture in new ways. We have met with different communities of San people, and are now working together with the Ju/’Hoansi from a village called //Xao /oba near Tsumkwe in the Kalahari Desert. We seek to showcase the wealth of their traditions through an exchange and collaboration with our acoustic quartet ‘Namibian Tales’. The San have many ‘tales’, profound and ancient. They are bearers of centuries of experience and knowledge about the natural world.
In our constant race towards modernization and endless accumulation, they still try to live in harmony with nature, using only what they need. Although they are seen and portrayed as primitive and poor people, they posses a connection and rootedness to nature we have long lost. We are embarking on a voyage into learning more about this culture, their history and music.
We set out to hear their tales and understand their history through the wisdom of the elders. There are four women in particular: N!ae Komtsa, Baqu Kha//an and sisters Seg//ae N!ani and //Ao N!ani. In our collaboration we want to showcase the importance of these women in carrying this invaluable knowledge. The village of //Xao /oba posseses a magical calmness. Music is of major importance to the community for rituals and joy.
In June 2017, after months of studying and arranging their songs, our Namibian Tales quartet traveled to //Xao /Oba village to meet up with singers N!ae, Baqu, Seg//ae and //Ao. We presented our new arrangements and spent ten days of full on rehearsing and creating the show together. June 13th we gave our first concert in Tsumkwe city, next to the gas station, free for anyone to come. The day after we headed to Namibia’s capital Windhoek where we gave two concerts on 16th and 17th of June in the Warehouse Theatre. These concerts were recorded and will be released as a live album September this year. This entire process is captured in our first music video “Namibia O.”
We look forward to touring Europe together in the summer of 2018!
Our aim is to cherish these old songs through this musical meeting, hopefully creating something special that will carry on this music for generations to come, inspiring also the youngster to value their cultural heritage.
The coming two years we will be working together with the Museums Association of Namibia (MAN) on this research and collaboration. We are grateful for the support of the Goethe Institute Windhoek, UNESCO’s IFCD Fund, KLM Airlines, Netherlands Embassy in Namibia & South Africa and the National Arts Council of Namibia for making this project possible.
N!ae Komtsa- vocals
Seg//ae N!ani – vocals
//Ao N!ani – vocals
Baqu Kha//an – vocals
Shishani – vocals, guitar
Bence Huszar – cello
Debby Korfmacher – mbira, kora & vocals
Sjahin During – percussion set