PETER M’Uambo Ambambi was still an unemployed young man with big dreams when he suddenly rose to prominence, innocently enough, in 1991.
The then little known guitarist was offered an opportunity to present a popular religious youth program that ran on the NBC Oshiwambo service on Sundays.
Twenty-eight years down the line, 52-year-old M’Uambo has become one of Namibia’s most prolific lyricists and a melody composer with more than 2 000 songs under his belt.
He is currently the head of the M’Uambo Musical Works (MMW), a conglomerate of 35 religious choirs spread all over the country.
M’Uambo said he established the MMW in 1988 as a one-man “choir”.
“The road to where I am today was not easy. It was full of challenges but, as a Christian, I believe that no challenge is insurmountable,” he said in an interview with Informante a day after the MMW’s annual conference held at the Evangelical Lutheran parish in Walvis Bay from 12 to 15 September.
The conference was attended by 25 of MMW’s 35 member choirs and was described as one of the most successful and well-attended MMW events.
M’Uambo noted that religious songs were his only interest since his childhood.
“My father who is my hero, was a choir member, a pianist and a guitarist. So I initially learned everything from him, starting with a guitar. I was eventually trained as lyricist and melodist by the legendary singer Madgalena Kambudu at Ongwediva,” he said.
M’Uambo joined the Namibian police in 1993 but stayed on as part-time NBC program presenter at Oshakati until 1998 when he was transferred to the Usakos police station.
He also served at the Police National headquarters and at the Wanaheda police station before he resigned in 2009 to give his “undivided attention” to his growing MMW.
“The MMW was growing rapidly, placing increased demands on me and I felt that I was no longer able to serve two masters. I had to resign my police job to give my undivided attention to the MMW,” he said.
The choirs are autonomous, with the MMW functioning only as a confederation under a central management board.
“I helped establish most of the choirs but others are old choirs that applied for MMW membership,” he explained.
He helps choirs come up with new songs and provides singing lessons.
Most of the choirs are linked to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) but there are others that are of mixed denominational membership while a few others are exclusively Catholic.
M’Uambo dismissed allegations that his long term objective was to establish a new Christian denomination.
“No, No. That will never happen,” he said.