Ndjeke ya Malimba, the village movie star
How did you come up with the character; Ndjeke ya Malimba?
It’s a story I created while still in primary school, in 1995. I always knew it would be important to me later in life. In June 2008, I began shooting Ndjeke ya Malimba and haven’t looked back since.
How do you come up with your jokes?
I am a born comedian. The jokes are derived from real life situations, conversations and tangible occurrences in the community.
How long does it take you to complete your films?
The whole process takes about a year; six months for planning and shooting and six more for editing the clips.
What do you think of Namibia’s progress after 24 years of independence?
We have done well in some areas and quite poorly in others, to be honest. Government itself seems not to care much about advancing local art, particularly film. There’s a lot of sloppiness and inexperience in Government officials - they spend so much time on unnecessary issues.
Where do you think Namibian filmmaking will be after another 24 years?
It would have grown, albeit at a very slow pace, because the sector is still maturing and lacks experience, funds [at the Namibia Film Commission], etc. All these have a negative baring on the industry’s growth in the end. That’s why local actors and actresses give up; there is no motivation. The country is also being ravaged by piracy, which could eventually contribute to the death of the Namibian film industry.
What then do you think needs to happen for the local film industry to grow?
We need to be organised as filmmakers. This would entail us sitting down, electing a committee to represent us at the Ministry of Information and Technology and at NBC as well. The individuals should be well-versed with our challenges, if they are to bring them to the attention of the relevant people.
What would you say is the funniest scene in your movies?
I have a lot of those. Overall, my all-time favourite must be something that involves the relationship between Ndjeke and his wife.
Who’s your favourite local actor of all time?
Elizabeth Vilho who plays Naambo in my movies. She’s the best person I have worked with to date.
How do you get the grandmas in your movies to act like that?
[laughs] That takes a lot of time and resources. It takes very skilled minds to train them and get them to act at the level we need them to. Some of those old folks play good characters while others have villainous roles. It can get tough and complicated, if we don’t do it nicely but I think they’re doing a fantastic job!
What else do you do besides movies?
Nothing. I do this full-time. I invest all my time in it. Sometimes we have to shoot early in the morning before everyone else is up or late at night when everyone else is asleep. That’s why I am so passionate about it. I am in the business of making films.
What was your favourite subject in high school?
Oshidonga. I got an A+ for my final exams. I guess it paid off for me, because Ndjeke is an expert Oshindonga speaker and his knowledge of the language makes him even funnier when you listen to the way he uses the words.
Is it more beneficial to sell your DVDs in stores than rights to NBC or One Africa Television?
It is definitely better for me to sell my DVDs to shops, because the money being offered by the television stations does not motivate me at all. NBC offered me less than N$3000 for each movie, which could never even cover the cost of production. And that’s ironic considering that they spend N$300 000 for each 30-minute episode of Generations.
There used to be an era when Namibian comedy thrived, like with One Fine Day. What do you think has happened since?
Like I said, lack of experience and seriousness by people in management. I also think those who were doing so well during that era failed to promote other upcoming actors and filmmakers of that time.
What’s the hardest part about making a movie?
Soliciting funds. There’s just no one to fund the industry, which is why our movies lack the quality they deserve. That is sad, because we have been invited to the USA this year for the Atlanta Film Festival but we won’t go - the quality of our work is not up to the standards the judges require. We need funding to be able to afford those nice cameras and set equipments that are so costly.
What are you currently working on?
We’re busy shooting Konalenale Part 8. We’ve just taken a small break for this interview. Fans can expect more local comedy.
What advice would you give to someone who has a camera, thinks they’re funny and wants to do what you do?
They have to be very serious. There will be obstacles; lack of funds and distribution, which can be very discouraging. But if they stay determined and do it for the love of it, it will all be worth it.
If you were stuck on an island with Ndjeke, how long do you think you could survive around him?
Very long. The guy would entertain me throughout.
Where can people find your movies?
There are several places across the country, such as the Super Sport Bar in Gobabis, Elenga Music Shop in Windhoek, in Ombili, Katutura, amongst other places. Look around, you will definitely be able to buy yourself a copy.
What are your plans for the next five years?
Despite the slight progress, I plan to establish further stable partnerships in Hollywood and Nollywood. We are working with Dillish to strengthen that Nollywood connection and hope something good comes out of it.