Jackson Wahengo on the streets of Geneva


Switzerland based Namibian musician Jackson ‘Mbwayakalola’ Wahengo, says he performs at street corners in Geneva to give his music extra mileage.
The musician rose to prominence in the mid-1990s among a breed of performers such as the late Jackson Kaujeua and Tate Kwela, Ras Sheehama, Sharon van Rooi, and Ndilimani Cultural Troupe believes, has since taken Namibian rhythms European.
Playing for people in CH is that they don’t understand what you are singing about but they like African music, they are fascinated by it. Sometimes I perform at big and small festivals, other times I take a hat where people put money in by the street corner while I perform. You make about 250 Swiss francs a day; it’s pretty much good for one with a guitar. People who play guitars here hardly get gigs, so what do they do all the other times? A musician needs to keep going, keep playing and be creative,” he said.
Wahengo, whose nickname ‘Mbwayakalola’ translates as Kalola’s dog said he plays for a diverse audience in Europe.
"There are more possibilities for musicians like myself whereas in Namibia there are more opportunities for kwaito players. Europe was a good move for me; they love live music and not backtracking. I would say its fine here in CH I get to see and listen to many good artist plus I also get to play more often,” he said.
The musician who started his career singing in church and grew up in a family of twenty said children the Namibian audience, especially the youth, is not completely to his type and that they are better of suited for Kwaito and other genres struggle.
“I started as a singer in church choirs as I was born in exile. Since I was a kid we had to sing revolutionary songs and I set up my little choir. After singing my guitar followed and I did Bob Marley songs. In 1994-1997 we used to walk around with my guitar. My brother Setson formed a band and my brother Tulonga followed,” said Wahengo, who was once saved by his guitar skills when he had lost his voice during a performance at a gay pride in Geneva.
Wahengo said he regroups with his former band members from time to time as he and he would love to perform with the likes of Erna Chimu, Elemotho and Fu Jazz.