Down Musical Memory Lane With Carlos Kambaekwa – Ou Leyden’s Legacy Lingers On 2 Hours Ago

The late Mbaqanga saxophonist, Leyden Naftalie, might have long gone to be reunited with his ancestors after losing a long battle with diabetes in1996 at the age of 65.

However, his legacy will remain stuck with local music revelers, notably those that got hooked to real township jives in years gone by.Ou Leyden, as the always immaculately dressed gentleman of Mbaqanga music was affectionately known by his ardent followers, will be best remembered for the powerful and distinct fashion he vigorously smoked the big pipe (blowing the saxophone). Following in the footsteps of seasoned musos in the shape of saxophonists Warmgat Mureko and Arnoldus #Naweb, aka Xarigurob, he was always going to be a mount Kilimanjaro to scale, but young Leyden was not to be outdone and can be easily counted amongst the finest brass instrumentalists ever to have graced the shores of the Land of the Brave.

Blessed with a great sense of humour, dark in complexion, mild mannered, tallish and quite handsome – Ou Leyden possessed all the required ingredients the opposite sex would normally crave and wish for in their male counterparts, and above all, his musical virtuosity was second to none. Ou Leyden invaded the local musical scene at a fairly young age during the dark days of the South Africa Apartheid regime in the Old Location. And while dozens of would-be young musicians preferred to enter the dog-eat-dog musical scene through tickling and twisting nylon strings, neatly attached to emptied 5-litre oil cans – he chose the thorny path of mastering the big horn (saxophone).

After polishing his accuracy on the long bend horn – Ou Leyden embarked on tours in Okahandja, Gobabis, Usakos, Walvis Bay, Otjiwarongo, Omaruru, Outjo, Luderitz, Mariental, Keetmanshoop and Tsumeb, where he drew large crowds. Unlike pop bands that went about their business unhindered with a full compliment of musicians in their lineups, armed with bass, drums, rhythm guitar, keyboards and lead guitar – the much adored streetwise saxophonist only roped in a small contingent of raw but highly gifted young musos, comprising of a bassist, rhythm guitarist and lead guitarist with himself bewitching the crowd via the big bent horn.

Although he occasionally composed his own songs, he mostly performed instrumental tunes by South African Mbaqanga experts such as Spokes Mashiane, and others, modeling his much-adored musical repertoire on the unique style of the great Mbaqanga guitarist, Boy Masaka. With the old guard of Warmgat and Xarigurob starting to wane and fade due to ageing, Ou Leyden took centre stage and proved an instant hit wherever he performed live gigs across all corners of the country. Such was his popularity and musical prowess that adoring lasses in the OvahereroOvambanderu section of the old Location felt obliged to compose a song in his honour – going by the following hymn, Leydena uetu, ngutona ohiva (Our beloved Leyden, the master of the bent horn).

His favourite haunting ground used to be the popular Bioscope Hall in the Old Location (belonging to the late Claudius Kaunozondunge, better known as “Oom Clo” or better still, Katajee), where he performed to full houses at any given time.

After the forced removal from the Old Location to the Katutura residential area in 1968, Ou Leyden found refuge at the old Abraham Mashego Dance Hall, holed up in the multi-tribal Gemengde location. He eventually established himself as a much-sought-after musical icon leading the hugely entertainment-starved local folk to scream for more as he went through a combination of notes from his trusted Saxophone – blurring out the crowd’s favourite tune Corner House. The likable Ou Leyden was also a keen football follower serving his beloved Orlando Pirates FC in numerous administrative capacities, while ferrying the team to the stadiums and away matches outside the town of Windhoek in his private vehicle.

Source : New Era