We have all seen this before; an artist at the height of their career takes a sabbatical much to the dismay of their fans and returns a shadow of their former musical self.
In most cases, the sabbatical, aimed at being a re-fuel stop at the creativity gas station, turns out to be the succubus that would become their undoing.
So as I anxiously waited to hear Oteya’s debut single Ethimbo, I could not help but feel nervous for her. What if no one likes it? What if no one relates to her as a solo artist?
However, Ethimbo turned out not half bad, although it did not knock any socks off my feet. It had a familiarity to it that I appreciated, but it still did not blow me out of the water.
The second single, Simoni, made me giggle. Perhaps because the song which talks of irresponsible fathers who would rather party and show off to their friends instead of caring for their family made me think of someone, or two, or three.
After all, this is the Namibian story, the story of single mothers who break their backs to raise their children and give them all they need while the men drive off in their GTIs in search of their next victims.
The fact that she sang it in Oshiwambo, where she could use the similes that one grew up hearing is what made it funny. Something about saying something in your vernacular language gives it life and makes it sound funny.
However, the two songs felt worlds apart. Yes, they were hers, but they felt as though they belonged to two separate albums.
This thought lingers and it makes you wonder why she chose those two songs and why she felt they would work, and most importantly what would the album sound like.
Oh, that Oteya is a sneaky one! It is evident that for her, no song was a fleeting thought and she left no step in the planning process up to chance.
The album works, and it just works on so many levels. Whether you’re looking for a dance song, a song to make you feel empowered or a slow song to make you think of that special someone, it just works!
Apart from Swart Baster – who is signed to the same label as she is – she collaborates with the Ray Signature from Uganda and Oga from Nigeria.
These three male artists help catapult Oteya to a new level of Afro-pop where singing in your vernacular is cool, and you can’t help but wonder why more people don’t do it.
They all give the album a uniquely Namibian, West/East African vibe.
What is most pleasing is that regardless of whom Oteya collaborates with, regardless of their vernacular, she sings it so well it is hard to believe she can’t speak the languages.
In a nutshell, she jells very well with those she collaborates with, and she is in sync with them.
“We didn’t want to release her as Daphne but as Oteya because we didn’t want her to fit into the industry, we wanted her to stand out.
“We Afronised her music because we needed an album that spoke to her name,” Ogopa Butterfly’s Sula Kyababa said about the making of the album.
He said that the album was in the making since last year, when burglars broke into their studios but they did not let that deter them from their task.
Most people would want to collaborate with the biggest artists they can find in other countries.
However, Kyababa explained that they strategically chose upcoming artists as internationally acclaimed artists would have taken the focus off her.