By Simataa Silume
It was some time in the summer of 1986 when a circle of ten friends decided to merge their voices into a band of singers that would eventually brace the “Caprivi” like a storm.
The initiative was made even better by the fact that not only did the friends meet at church but also spent much time together as school mates at the Caprivi Senior Secondary School. The group went on to become the melody that was a joy to listen to. The thriller was not only experienced by members of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church but by all residents of the now renamed Zambezi region. The group limited its ‘live music’ to camp meetings where ardent listeners and members of the SDA church converged for meditation at certain times of the year. The group kept all congregation members entertained for most part of the session. Their harmonious voices had the power to incapacitate members of congregation and glue them to their seats as if under a spell. Their pieces of music proved the appetiser to the congregation, and left it salivating for the word of God. It was the “milk and honey” with which the word of God was eaten.
The group traversed the Zambezi region, entertaining Christians at different SDA outlets that dotted the Zambezi from Singalamwe to Impalila. The voices of the young men shall remain a melody to the living memory of many of us even if many of them have since submitted to the burial mat. It will be difficult to forget the voices of the late Brother Eugene Sitali, Brother Lawrence Masake, Brother Raphael Lufu, Brother Godfrey Kalyungu, Brother Bruster Kachiolwa, Brother Eugene Nyambe and Brother George Pumulo. May their souls rest in peace!
Indeed, the vibrant singing group was rendered dormant by the demise of the seven of its members. Death delivered a blow the surviving members will live to remember. Its impact on the band can only be surpassed by the impact the voices of the late brothers had on their audience. It is imperative to observe here that the surviving three brothers failed to recover and rejuvenate the once pulsating band and have been in a dormant state since 1996.
It is, however, interesting to mention that if evil saw the group dissipate from the face of earth, it is still the practices of evil that has awakened the desire of the surviving three brothers to revive the band. The contemporary Namibian society has seen evil take charge of the hearts and minds of its men and women. One does not understand what drives men to mercilessly rise up against those they are supposed to protect and cut their necks off as if to a chicken on the slaughter.
It is confusing to understand why women choose to conceive and only to abandon the innocent infant at birth nine months later. The night clubs, or beer halls, are infested with illiterate youth that drink alcohol as if there was no tomorrow. The Namibian men are at each other’s throat and daggers are hailed at one another as if it was what independence brought us. Thanks to the surviving founders of the Swing Down Vocal Band. The trio has seen it befitting to revive the group and use the power of music to address the ills that has befallen our society. The three brothers, Gibbs Mumbula, Harry Chasunda and Born-bright Musomi have recruited two more singing geniuses in the likes of brothers Rector Matongo and Victor Haisaya.
The new group has broadened its scope and wishes to traverse the rest of the country reacting to invitations from different groupings. It has made Tsumeb the centre for its rehearsal meetings and has affiliated its membership with the Tsumeb SDA church. This owes to the fact that the five members of the group are scattered in the Northern parts of the country, with only one member stationed in Windhoek. Praises go to the Tsumeb SDA church for not being stingy and stringent in according membership to the group of five ‘brothers’.
The group intends to use every opportunity to sing for the youth in youth organisations, for women in women’s organisations, and for men in men’s organisations. It wishes to address issues of moral bankruptcy as opportunity presents itself. It sings in English and in many other African languages. The band intends to fall into partnership with welfare organisations and visit the needy to give out donations in terms of clothing and food. Since its revival, it has appeared at places such as Tsumeb SDA Church, Okahandja SDA Church, The Rock Lodge, Namwi Island Camp Meeting, at Sampofu’s wedding in the Zambezi, Windhoek Central SDA Church and Rundu SDA Church. The group has since returned from their visit to the Otjiwarongo SDA Church. The recording of the Swing Down’s first album, To God Be The Glory by Setrick Dantu of JigSaw Records, should be in circulation by July. Furthermore, the group has since been invited to attend the 50th anniversary of Ella du Plessis High School in Windhoek in June.
It is a group of men who have decided to demonstrate to the whole nation that not all men have fallen victim to the snares of evil forces. These men solely rely on the melody of their voices to galvanise all members of society into shunning all evil practices and build this nation. Fans, supporters and the SDA church family can follow Swing Down on twitter @swing_down.