Folk songs from Damaraland, Namibia
Damaraland Folk-Ensemble: Mutago, Dantago, /gomtere, Mai, Rise, Ecko (vocal)
Program: Kaise !nuse ha (Woman’s Longing For A Far-away Lover), Satsa ta ti /ami (I Give You The Key To My Heart Because I Love You), Ek koop ‘n tikiese bier (I Buy Beer For A Penny), Namibia !gai re (Namibia, You Are Good To Us), Tsura !hab ge (Stomach Ache), Sa /ami !a Sau te (Love Song), Namibia #ou !a (Joy Of Dance), Ti mamas ge (Mother’s Sorrow), Amarula (Creamy African Liquor), Iho mama (Ode To Mother), Tamatie (Tomatoes Of Loveand), Dilo Dilo (Dilo Is A Man Who Women Weak In Their Kneesand), and other folk songs
Note: The unusual marks like !, /, # and ‘ in the spelling of the titles and the names are not mistakes but denote clicking sounds in Nama-Damara language.
The Damara tribe inhabiting the Northern part of Namibia is one of the oldest peoples in the country. Relatively tall, stout and black Damaras call themselves nu-khoin (‘black man’), whereas their religion and traditions differ substantially from other Africans. For a long time Namas kept Damaras subjected to them, many members of the tribe being actually in slavery. During the period of German colonization (1883–1915) Damaras were given a piece of land in South-Kaokoveld which became their new homeland.
Damaras speak the Nama-Damara language which is conspicuous for its 5 clicking sounds produced with the help of the tongue and palate. While singing, those sounds give an impression of a small accompanying percussion instrument.
Through times Damaras have been cattle breeders and outstanding handicraftsmen, preserving and passing on from generation to generation the traditions and beliefs of their tribe. An inseparable part of their life has been music, poetry and tale-telling as well as traditional handicrafts like ornamental leatherwork, jewelry, pottery and production of musical instruments.
The “Orient” Festival team discovered the folk ensemble by chance on their trip through Namibia, hence, “Orient 2007” came to be the debut of the group outside their native village.
Black people’s extraordinary sense of rhythm is a widely admired phenomenon and common knowledge, however, much less is known about their choral singing skills. Folk songs of quite complicated polyphonic vocal structure are not arranged by conductors but flow freely as an on-the-spot creation by the singers. The members of the ensemble are not professional musicians, their regular occupations being a cook, a waiter and a dishwasher.