Township jazz comes alive

FEW witnesses remain today, who still recall the glorious days of township jazz in Namibia’s shanty towns in the 1950s and 1960s. It was a time, when the day’s toils and troubles were put aside for a moment, when the bands sounded their instruments at sunset and people gathered around them in the local community halls.


Young men shined their dancing shoes, women donned their petticoats and the party continued until late after midnight.

It all started with Johannes Andreas ‘Warmgat’ Mureko, a police detective and musician extraordinaire with an insatiable hunger for music.

The young Namibian migrant worker returned from South Africa in December 1942, with a tenor saxophone he had bought in Egoli, the City of Gold. In the aftermath, he influenced uncountable Namibian jazz musicians in the fifties, sixties and seventies.

Among them were the musicians of the Original Jazz Masters. Under the guidance and leadership of a journalist they have reunited to bring back to life the forgotten melodies and rhythms of township jazz.

Soprano saxophonist Frederick ‘Kariki’ Ndiripunye Kamburutue played with Muroko’s Skymaster Band in 1959-1964, a mere teenager at the time. He joined the Dakotas in the seventies and eighties.

Percussionist Toto Reinhardt was the drummer of Erstwhile Morning Star.

Tenor saxophonist Stephanus ‘Kookwater’ /Hoebeb played with the Tsumeb Etosha Ragtimers first and with Morning Star from 1965 onwards. His nickname implied that he was faster and ‘hotter’ on his instrument than ‘Warmgat’ Muroko himself. Immanuel Manoks Shivute is the youngest of the ‘old crocks’. He began playing rhythm guitar for the Dakotas in 1986.

The veterans grace the Bank Windhoek Music Circle at Nice with a performance on Saturday evening, 1 December 2012. Toshi Haufiku, a petite Ndonga-speaking young woman with a bright, ‘what - me - worry’ smile and short Rasta hair-do will do the opening.

She accompanies herself on acoustic guitar and, in her own words, focuses on soul and pop. Of the six songs she has recorded so far, ‘Look At Me’ was co-produced with Tonetic and has absolute hit potential.

Tickets cost N$55 and bookings may be made with Sarah at Nice (Tel: 061 300710). Patrons who frequent three shows over the course of the festival will be invited to a show of their choice and be treated to a Nice hamburger.

For further queries please contact Ernst Herma (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Jana Brückner (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) at Nice.


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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