SHAMBO queen of Namibian traditional music Tunakie died on Saturday, 24 April.
The talented artist’s aunt, Angie Nampala, confirmed the news over the weekend.
Nampala said Tunakie, who is known as the queen of Otyaka in her motherland, died after collapsing in her hair salon in South Africa.
“At this moment I cannot say much. It is not an easy time. The news is so sad for everyone,” she said.
Nampala said she will always miss Tunakie’s sense of humor, her outspokenness, kindness, big smile and her inner beauty.
“Tunakie was always honest. Many people sometimes fear to tell the truth, but not her – she would always tell the honest truth. I will miss her boldness,” she said.
Nampala said the music diva had a great passion for music.
“She made music that anyone can dance to. She would always sing in the shower. She did not do music for fame or money. She was a unique artist who also enjoyed other artists’ work,” she said.
Naftalie Amukwelele, better known as D-Naff, who has featured Tunakie on many songs, says she was passionate about her Aawambo culture, and worked hard to make people fall in love with Oshambo music and culture.
“She was a happy, jolly person who was always full of laughter. Her energy on stage was always unmatched. When other female artists went for R&B, soul and pop music, she preferred to go traditional, bringing back lost values and morals among the youth. It was always uncomfortable finding oneself in the same award category as her, because the feeling was always that she was going to win,” he says.
Amukwelele says Tunakie has left footprints in the sands of destiny and her name will forever keep echoing when traditional and Shambo music is mentioned in Namibia.
Sula Kyababa, owner of the record label Ogoba Butterfly, who has also worked with the award-winning artist, decribes her as a humble person who loved peace and got on with everyone in the music industry.
“Tunakie has popularised the Shambo genre and made it her own. She literally owned Shambo music. It is very sad to know that she is no more. May her soul rest in peace. The industry will surely miss her. My condolences to her family, especially to her children, whom she loved unconditionally. It is shocking that she has left us abruptly. I thank her for her beautiful music. May her legacy live on,” Kyababa says.
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Afro-pop legend Faizel MC says he will never forget the day he met Tunakie.
“I first met Tunakie at a gig at Oshakati. When she saw me she said: ‘Faizel, is that you Faize? The MC? I love your music. You are much shorter than you look on TV.’ We laughed about that. Tunakie had a passion for her tradition and was always dressed traditionally. She often urged me to dress traditionally for my stage acts. My condolences to her family, friends and fans,” he says.
Born to Namibian parents in Angola, Tunakie was a traditional musician who began singing as a teenager. Her parents moved back to Namibia when she was eight. She was raised by her grandmother at Ontananga village, and later started singing and dancing with music group Kakulu Kadhi Mungunda at Ontananga.
She was the lead singer of the group and was offered a recording deal by an Oshakati record label in 2004, which she accepted.
Her debut song, ‘Wameme’, won her the first Sanlam-NBC award. She later moved to Windhoek, where she began working with session musicians to fuse her Oshiwambo traditional music with contemporary music.
In 2005 she released her debut album called ‘Ombwila’.
In 2014 the Shambo queen was nominated at the Kora Awards in the category for best Southern African artist of the year.
Tunakie has also shared her music in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Spain and Austria.