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Backtracks are killing artists ÔÇô Jean Pierre Ntsika


by Jemima Beukes


 

You will see him on stage at live shows, attired in white, an SX guitar over the shoulder, all shuffling across floor boards blowing your mind away.
He may not have the Afro of the legendary Jimi Hendrix but his choreography comes just inches close to that of the teeth-ripping string master.
Jean Pierre Ntsika, Elemotho, Patricia and Big Ben’s bass guitarist, has helped put the groove back into Namibia’s nightlive, which had been dead for years.
He strums sounds that are like trinkets and this emphasises why it should be said, “Africa is music and not music is in Africa.”
Growing up in a musical family with a father who was a choir member  and siblings who ran recording studios, Ntsika got a stiff doze of music at an early age; a doze which made him an outstanding artist after just 12 years of performance.
He seems like a laid-back and reserved person up close but while on stage, you’d see him transform into an animal, grooving you unto your feet.
The acoustic four-string guitar had been his first guitar experience after which he changed following a piece of advice from an old friend to do bass instead.
“I always liked music because of my dad’s singing but when I saw my brother playing the guitar, I fell in love with it. I taught myself how to play the bass,” he says.
Ntsika, who has buckets of charm and a self-driven spirit, taught himself with much dedication how to play the tiring but awarding bass guitar while at a seminar from which he was meant to become a priest.
“I was at a seminar where I studied how to write music and during this time, I also taught myself how to play the bass guitar. I love the bass because without the bass and the drums, a live band is dead,” he smiles.
Ntsika’s favourite guitar player is Jacob Pastorius; an American jazz musician, composer and electric bass player.
He also likes to listen to Ettienne Mbappe from Cameroon and Congo Brazzaville’s Rido Bayonne.
His perfect skill has taken him across the continent alongside Elemotho playing in countries such as Uganda, Congo, Swaziland and South Africa where he has performed for legends such as Sibu Chassi, HHP, Johnny Clegg, Vusi Masalela, Dobet Gnahoré from Ivory Coast and the Senegalese musical band, Xalam.
Ever excited about live music and instruments, he encourages amateur artists to try live performances.
“With live performances, you give people what they expect. People can feel the music. Artists must know that Namibia, as part of Africa, is judged by its live shows. Europeans and Americans see instruments and live stage performances when they hear Africa. Backtracks are killing artists. We must offer Americans what they don’t have,” he says, adding that he admires Tunakie, Papa Shikoneni and Patricia Ochurus who reproduce traditional music.
“Backing tracks can never be used to show Namibian music, I want to see Kavango music and Caprivian music go big,” he concludes.