The drive up to the Ndilimani Cultural Troupe music farm is bumpy yet short. Far from the hustle and bustle of the city, the only thing one hears are the birds chirping and the occasional car driving past to another farm.
Although the troupe is taking a short break, a group of young children lurk outside of the rehearsal room, evidently attracted by the sound of laughter and music that fills the room so they wait patiently for it to resume.
Ndilimani is run like any other business. The group rehearses every day from 8 a.m. to 12p.m. but increase rehearsal hours when preparing for a show.
They take weekends off when they do not have gigs planned and receive salaries at the end of every month.
Group members decide on whether they wish to stay on the farm or commute from the city every morning.
Apart from lodging for its members, the farm has a state of the art recording studio where all the magic happens.
The break is over and the group is prompt with resuming its rehearsals. As soon as the lead guitarist Rodriguez Ntsika begins to strum his instrument, it sends a surge of electricity through the room.
The rest of the band follow his queue and mercilessly pound their instruments as the dancers position themselves for their routines.
At that moment in time, the saying that live music is intoxicating rings true. They seem to suspend time and all life; the birds stop chirping, cars stop moving and the young audience at the window seems in a trance of sorts.
More impressive is the group’s ability to transition from genre to genre with ease. All one need do is holler the title of the song and your wish is their command.
It is hard to believe until they start playing rock n roll before moving over to Pete Seeger’s Guantanamera and finish off their set with Ritchie Valens’ La Bamba.
Apart from their work as Ndilimani, the group is also hard at work training its newest members to create an all female band.
Once they are ready, the all female band will be able to perform independently of the rest of the group when it needs to.
Group members have the liberty of working outside of Ndilimani with other bands to maximise their earnings.
A perfect example is Big Mama who is The Last Band Standings’ reigning champion and Castro of Etondo who won the competition in 2013.
At present, the group is busy preparing for the Independence Day celebration so they are hard at work deciding on the routines and their costumes.
After their impressive rehearsal, Jessy Nombanza, the group’s operational manager told me that the common misconception about the group is that they only perform for Swapo rallies, which is not the case.
They are available for hire for any occasions and have an array of songs that do not only consist of liberation struggle songs.
The manager’s goal is to break away from this stereotype and increase the group’s popularity among all sections of the population.