By Fellemon Ndongo
The independence celebrations on 21st March 2015 took place in the capital city of Windhoek at the Independence Stadium. This extraordinary celebration marked the inaugural ceremony at which Dr. Hage Geingob became Namibia’s third President. The College of the Arts was entrusted to produce 30 minutes of non-stop entertainment that comprised of music and dance. It was to be a performance to remember; filled with fun, joy, amusement and memories that will forever be engraved in our hearts. I will always remember seeing the tears rolling down the cheeks of a young girl as she described her joy after all was said and done. In the end all the intense rehearsals were worth it – it was truly an overwhelming experience that captivated our inner being.
The show was tilted ‘’Otse Mbaka’’, an Oshiwambo term which translates to ‘’This is us’’. The mass choreography was produced by the College of the Arts at the request of the President Elect, or as they prefer to say, by order of the state house. It took more than 500 people to create the biggest show ever seen in Namibia. Angelika Schroeder, the acting rector of COTA was the project manager. Then there was our director Sandy Rudd and myself as the assistant director, collaborating with the amazing choreographers Beatrix Munyama and Haymich Olivier. Music was produced by Jacus Krieger, the COTA fashion design team painted the stadium with the flag colours and the Harem trousers and matching tops worn by the dancers were made by Cynthia Schimming. Last but not least, the visual arts group that made the huge puppetry creatures, which represented the wildlife in Namibia, were lead by Peter Kewowo, Helen Harris and Robert Narciso.
The ensemble of various styles of choreography took us three weeks to put together before the 21st of March. We had been asked to construct something spectacular, something that would leave a strong impression leading into this new era for Namibia. This meant that the schedule was very tight and it took is us three weeks of constant meetings to discuss logistics, long hours in the sun doing rehearsals and special visits to the state house for presentations. We molded together the diverse principles of directors, choreographers, drummers, singers, dancers and most importantly scholars from 12 different schools in Windhoek. These children worked tirelessly to master and perfect the dance by listening to instructions from the volunteer leaders, made up of COTA students.
We wanted to prove that in 25 years of independence we have the brains and the capacity to produce something professional, something of world class and undoubtedly – something meaningful. Words of encouragement, words of directness and words of self-assurance paved the way to the day of the Independence Day celebration 2015. It was in good faith that we sometimes had to train in the rain, sometimes in the blazing sun and sometimes in the cold morning hours to accomplish what we had began to realize would not only be seen as an achievement for us, but an achievement for the Nation at large.
This truly was a magnificent experience that brought a message of hope and change. And this message of change was seen everywhere, like in the song sang by Lize Ehlers and the Power of One group “Time for Change” or the expressive chants of Jacques Mushaandja with his song “Komesho” meaning “Forward”. And then there was “The Winds of Change’” brought to life by Big Ben, emulating an iconic Namibian musician, the late Jacksons Kaujeua. Last but not least, the delightful whopping song by the kwaito group PDK called ‘’Celebrate’’ brought the groove back with extreme exhilaration that we observed from the crowd of people under the well nested shades.
This was truly a remarkable opportunity in which we turned dust into diamonds and I will certainly do it again and again both for my personal development and the National pride. As I proceed to finish my internship at the College of the Arts, I just want to say that anything is achievable – all you need to do is believe that we are creators of our own realities.