The Soundscape of Storytelling: A Dialogue with Ndakolute Ndilula

THE SOUNDSCAPE OF STORYTELLING

A DIALOGUE WITH NDAKOLUTE NDILULA

Ndakolute Ndilula is a Namibian DJ and music producer known for his work at the intersection of hip-hop, house, Afrobeat, and electronic genres. A graduate of the Academy of Sound Engineering, he brings an out-of-the-box approach to the country’s sonic culture.

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BY SALIHA HADDAD

This conversation took place between Namibia and Algeria, via email.

Saliha: Hello Ndakolute. Congratulations on being shortlisted for the 2021 Bank Windhoek Doek Literary Awards. And thank you so much for agreeing to this interview.

Ndakolute: Greetings Saliha. 

Saliha: The first thing I noticed opening the link to read your essay was its form. Its title was already intriguing so imagine my surprise at seeing its form. I have been reading many essays and creative nonfiction pieces this year and never encountered one structured this way (maybe I didn’t read that much after all).

Can you please tell me more about your essay, Spice in the Wind? How and why did you decide to write it this way and of course include audible pieces with it?

Ndakolute: To begin, the title of the piece is a play on words. The kapana meat sold at the single quarters is normally accompanied with a specific spice, and Windhoek tends to be windy from the end of winter, and throughout the majority of spring. I wanted to create that visual through words.

I wrote about Windhoek, because I’ve grown up here, and it’s what I know very well. How things have died and been born anew. It helped to pick a few places that aren’t always frequented by tourists, but are fascinating all the same—places that add character to the city. 

The addition of an audio aspect to my piece was a suggestion from the Doek! editorial team, as they have had “aural” submissions before mine. When speaking about places, the soundscape tells so much more of their stories.

Saliha: Well, that’s something fascinating to learn about the spice and its influence on the title. It’s crazy how something that may seem very small can have a creative impact, and even on how we relate to a certain place.

The addition of an audio aspect to my piece was a suggestion from the Doek! editorial team, as they have had “aural” submissions before mine. When speaking about places, the soundscape tells so much more of their stories.”

I am glad to hear that the magazine’s editors suggested that. It indeed adds so much to the piece. It allows for a visual as well as aural picturing of the places you depict and talk about in the essay.

I love the choice of places not usually frequented by tourists. I feel like these places are the ones that hold the most interesting stories. Are there any other places you have written about or others that you think would charm you to write about? 

Ndakolute: I initially had a shortlist of about seven or eight places I wanted to feature, but kept  the ones I selected, as these would have the most impact and would be easier to envision with the help of the accompanying audio. 

There is a space that was called The Warehouse, now called The Brewers Market. It was a hub for a lot of creatives in the city, and would be host to a variety of shows, spoken word, comedy, dance, live performances from artists young and old. A very accepting space. Some of the energy of the space is now gone, but it still holds great importance to the creative industry in Windhoek, and by extension, Namibia at large. Perhaps I can look into something with a visual aspect for another project that will come with time surely.

Saliha: Yes, that sounds interesting. I hope that the project materializes soon and we get to enjoy it as well. Going back to the written part of your essay, I feel like each word invokes the unique atmosphere of each place commendably. Your descriptions are matter-of-fact descriptions but they don’t bring to mind the image of the place in a rigid, static way, but instead invite the mind to imagine more about it and wander in it. How was the writing process for this piece like for you? What are some pieces (long or short) and writers that have or are influencing your writing?

Ndakolute: The writing process was helped tremendously by the audio, and the fact that I lived through the moments as I was recording, as well as having lived through them in life. I have a relationship with each of these places, and that helped me describe them in the manner that I did. 

I’m not too sure if there are specific pieces and writers that have influenced my writing. I make it a point to read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee once a year. I’ve grown up reading some Paulo Coelho, and J. K. Rowling. I also take a lot of cues from the movies I’ve watched and from analyzing the story writing in those. All of these factors have shaped the way I write, and generally express myself.

Saliha:This is why the piece is such an authentic rendition of the atmosphere of the places: it’s a lived experience as you explained.

It’s quite interesting to know that you read To Kill A Mockingbird once a year. I do happen to think that reading is one of the best ways to learn more about writing. On this note, what are your future creative projectswhether writing or otherwise?

Ndakolute: As far as future creative endeavors, I primarily work as an audio engineer, producer and DJ. At the moment, I’m currently working with a few local artists here on their projects, but plan to work on music of my own when I get the chance to. Beyond that and trying to grow my presence as a DJ after the most straining period of the pandemic, I’ll have to see what other creative avenues are open to me when they arrive.

 

This conversation was conducted prior to the announcement of the winners of the 2021 Bank Windhoek Doek Literary Awards.

 

This dialogue was edited by our Editor, Tamanda Kanjaye.

Saliha Haddad

Saliha Haddad is an Algerian part-time teacher of English at university. She graduated in the field of Anglophone Literature and Civilization in 2015. She is an Interviewer for Fiction at the online magazine, Africa in Dialogue. She has written about cultural subjects for the Algerian online platform Dzair World and for the printed and online magazine Ineffable Art and Culture. Her debut creative nonfiction piece has appeared in Agbowó.

SALIHA HADDAD

INTERVIEWER FOR FICTION

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