Down Musical Memory Lane – Baronages, One Time the Kasies Live Music Toast [opinion]

They came and conquered the local musical scene at the time when music revelers were spoilt for choice in terms of entertainment with live performing bands invading the then South West Africa (SWA) like vultures preying on an elephant bull’s carcass.

The Baronages musical ensemble began life as the Baronages Seekers in the early 1970s, a concept of three young music crazy students under the stewardship of Oshakati property mogul and astute building constructor, Benny Zaaruka, then better known as Boone among his circle of buddies in the music industry. The band was destined to fill the void following the disbandment of the Bee Bob Brothers, a popular live band among the OtjihereroOvambanderu speaking community.

Initially, a bridge band christened Young Generation with Chito Kauta on lead vocals took over the reigns from BBB but found the going tough in the dog-eat-dog business of live music. The baton was eventually passed over to the quartet of Zaaruka (lead vocals amp bass) Killian Karitja (vocals amp drums), Alex Kamaundju (lead guitar amp vocals) and Dr Rukee Tjingaete (roadie) none playing member. After months of rehearsals and sporadic gigs in the towns of Tsumeb and Grootfontein, it became nencessary to reinforce the band – hence the inevitable arrival of young rock guitarist, Carlos Kambaekwa.

Barons quickly settled down to some serious business embarking on live gigs outside the city of Windhoek – performing in towns such as Gobabis, Tsumeb, Okahandja, Karibib, Keetmanshoop with Grootfontein their favourite rendezvous. Another change in personnel The departure of Kamaundju, brought another change in the composition of the band with the entry of renowned Mbaqanga guitarist, Killer Kamberipa, and the highly talented Blare Camm to expand the rhythm section of the band. Barons became the toast of many live music revelers across the country, but the repertoire needed refinement and it was resolved to bring on board Cape Town’s baritone-voiced vocalist, Klonkies May. The latter’s arrival certainly took the band to the next level with gigs coming in thick and fast in no-go areas previously.

Bra Klo hit the ground running with the hit song Black Queen Arrives by Lionel Peterson and Grand Funk Rail Road’s Take Me. Eventually, the band shifted its customary hard rock style to the more sophisticated cover versions of funk and soul music. Klo would leave the girls screaming and craving for more as he sweet voice strolled through the lyrics of Lionel Ritchie’s Sweet Love and many other soul soothing songs.Meantime, former BBB drummer, Ricky Katjivirue, was brought in to manage the affairs of the band. His presence boosted the band’s brand and popularity, leading to it receiving invitations to entertain fun seeking students at the predominantly white Centaurus High School during the height of Apartheid.

The band’s popularity also proudly rubbed off on to the marginalised masses at political rallies of both SWAPO and SWANU.

In the intervening years, vocalists Les Kozonguizi and Godwin Humavindu (Little Godza) were roped in to add spice to the harmony department and to help master the complex cover versions of the Doobie Brothers and Tavares.

Barons and the Ugly Creatures were very prominent giving a horde of visiting bands from South Africa a good run for their money while also featuring in the Battle of the Bands at the packed to rafters Katutura Community Hall alongside Osibisa from Luderitz. The band also performed in many towns as part of its annual countrywide tour during the June school holidays, thereby expanding its fan base to Luderitz where it enjoyed massive adoration to the point of it becoming hostage at the harbour town for two more weeks, by public demand.

It was time again to up the repertoire, and Thabo Kgegle Mafenunga from Gugulethu, Cape Town, shifted behind the ivories (keyboards) to give the band the much-needed punch, which was somehow missing. Barons performed with many South African bands including the Rockets, Prumes and would occasionally share the Katutura Community Hall stage with the equally popular Uglies on New Year’s eve. The band’s proudest moment was when it performed in front of a sold out audience at the DHPS Hall for the Sounds of Namibia Road Show in 1979 – featuring Betty Mootseng (Kaffermaid) on vocals. Other notable musicians that had a stint with the Baronages were Claude Brown (guitar amp keyboards), Axali Doeseb (keyboards), Kenny Neff (drums), Dial Gouws (guitar), Mike Brown (guitar) Raymond (keyboards), Baby Tjirimuje (drums amp vocals), Percy Swarts (guitar), Muis Papers (drums), Gerson Doeseb (bass) and Jomo Haoseb (drums).

As fate would dictate, Barons finally bowed to the financial pressure with the wave of discos that captured the imagination of local music revelers in the beginning of the 1980s with the majority of the band members turning to greener pastures elsewhere. The full story will be incomplete if the following roadies are not mentioned: Buti-Kuzee Kauta, Mboroto Herunga, Kakopi Rheiz-Ndjavera and Cecil Kanjaa.

Source : New Era