Fine man, fine tunes

Having been introduced to the violin and learning to play it for free, Ronaldo Kandume is ready to give back in the same way he received.

25 January 2019 | Art and Entertainment

Ronaldo Kandume is ready to take the Namibian music industry by storm - with his violin.

The youngster, who is no stranger to the airwaves, has established himself as a flourishing violin soloist and has so far featured on various singles.

He has not only shared the stage with prominent artists, but also performed live, solo. Being one of the youngest commercial violinists in Namibia since last year, the 21-year-old Kandume has already had his fair share of the industry, but despite the ups and downs, he still plans on sticking around a little longer.

Inspired by saxophonist Suzy Eises, Kandume's passion for the violin sprung up when in 2009 at the Tsumeb Arts Performance Centre he and a friend walked past and heard someone playing the instrument.

“My sister also played instruments but I didn't bother with them then, I was around eight years old.

My friend and I decided to go and check the school out and immediately when I heard the violin something just happened to me. I asked to start playing that day but I had to sign up first. The following day I was back there to begin my classes, and the rest is history,” he said.

Kandume says there was a lack of teachers and he learned most of what he knows today by himself with the help of volunteers, as the majority of the teachers are based in Windhoek at the College of the Arts. These volunteers played a big role in his career and he managed to go to Switzerland.

“That trip was an eye-opener. Things that side are different. We are really behind the rest of the world in terms of development. I remember people there are able to play seven hours straight and I honestly couldn't. The trip was amazing and it taught me a lot of discipline,” he said.

Having finished high school in 2016, Kandume came to Windhoek to further his studies in information technology and his other love, the violin. He remembers the year being dry in terms of getting gigs but that didn't break his spirit.

“I was still very up-and-coming and I got very few jobs. Last year things started looking up for me and business started booming. There were times I had to cancel gigs because they just became too much. I started doing short videos and that's how word got around about me,” he said.

Kandume has so far worked with artists such as Jeiyo on his song Alone and he also performed with other artists such as Gazza and Nasty C. The violinist says he also had the pleasure to play for President Hage Geingob at his private residence a couple of times.

“So far I play covers. I have no original work yet but I plan on releasing an EP (extended project) to test the waters before I work on an album. I want to meet other violinists from across the world just to broaden my skillset before I do my own work,” he said.

Kandume says the perception of parents and the general public regarding the instrument has changed over the years and more people are opening up to it. But, he adds that government needs to step in to provide a learning environment.

“I have so many parents who call me to teach their children but due to too many commitments now I can't. So far we have few schools who are teaching primary school learners the instrument but we need more and we need to go into the regions too,” he said.

Challenges he faces include the lack of workshops to repair instruments and the lack of teachers across the country. Kandume however remains hopeful that things will get better and more people will be inspired to join him and Suzy Eises as commercial instrumentalists.

“I am studying because one needs a backup plan in case one of the two fails. I plan on really pushing this. My mother supports me fully even though it took a while for her to come on board. Today I'm able to help out with paying bills,” he said.

June Shimuoshili

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