Embracing the donkey within
Not many people have the confidence to name themselves after one of the most stubborn animals known to mankind.
However, Magdalena !Gontes wears her stage name Female Donkey like a badge of honour. She brought new meaning to the phrase ‘never judge a book by its cover’ when she left audiences in awe at the Namibia Annual Music Awards (NAMAs) in Swakopmund recently, but this is just the beginning of her journey to stardom.
Tell us about your name. How did you get it, and why did you keep it?
Before independence, I enrolled in first grade at a school named Grey Donkey in Katutura. It has now been renamed Bet-El Primary School.
Somehow I became associated with the name, and I didn’t want to change it because it is linked to my educational background. I want to motivate people and show that regardless of where you are from, you can make it.
How did you get into music?
I was fortunate to meet the likes of Michael Jackson and Brenda Fassie when they visited Namibia in the 90s. I was privileged to be one of the few who shook hands with them, and that is how I became inspired to do music.
In 2011 when I began my career, I was fortunate to have met and worked with !Oubasen, and he helped me build my career.
Why is it important to you?
I have a dream, I have not realised it yet, but hope to do so when I retire. The dream is that of opening my own music label, which will help me nurture the talents of young upcoming artists.
Through this, I will be able to empower young artists, not only by harnessing their talents, but creating a sustainable career. This is why music is important to me. It will allow me to share my stage success with other people.
How has your music helped you grow?
My music has taught me to be persistent, and grow a backbone. It has helped me respect my desires and my passions in life. Going after my dreams is a sign of that respect, as perhaps without music I would not have had acquired this outlook on life.
What message do you try to convey with your music?
I try to educate the youth to take their education seriously. Education is important in that it helps people achieve many great things. I believe that music is one of the best tools to educate and empower people, which is why I use it to pass this message along.
What are the common misconceptions people have of you?
I cannot honestly say. Everyone I have ever encountered has only had nice things to say to me or about me, so I wouldn’t know. They encourage me to continue doing a great job, so I have not encountered negative comments, yet.
Which local artists inspire you?
Ras Sheehama, Gazza and The Dogg. They inspire me because they are motivated and hardworking.
Take Ras, for example. He has been in the music industry since before independence, but he only really started reaping the benefits of his work after independence. During that time, he never gave up.
The media might say negative things about them, but I take it with a pinch of salt because I personally have never seen them do anything wrong.
What is your favourite 90’s song?
That would have to be Dear Mama by 2 Pac Shakur
If you were ice-cream, what flavour would you be and why?
I would be vanilla, because of the colour. I believe in light and its purity, hence my choice.
What is your least favourite thing about humanity?
I don’t like the way people disregard others, the way they look down on them and try to bring them down because they (the former) feel they are superior. Jealousy is also another trait which I do not like.
What is the funniest thing which happened to you recently?
I met Ituu from Bullet at the NAMAs, and I decided to congratulate him on their win. I just happened to touch him, and the red ochre he had on him rubbed off on me. I was about to go out and perform, so needless to say, I panicked a little bit.
Which animal best describes you?
Two animals best describe me. Firstly, a monkey because they are very flexible, they try everything fearlessly. The second is a donkey as it always keeps its eye on the prize. It looks ahead and never gets distracted. I believe those traits best describe me.
Would you rather fight a foul-mouthed, switch-blade-wielding baby or a blind nun? Why?
I don’t have the heart to fight a visually-impaired person. Their disability renders them helpless and unable to defend themselves. I would much rather fight the firstname.lastname@example.org