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Born to sing.

Initially it was difficult to reconcile the woman sitting behind a desk occupied by a PC, stacks of papers and files to the woman I saw on stage just a few days earlier, leading a 'rainbow' crowd into a frenzy of song and dance. Her soft-spoken and serene demeanor belies a force that is fast becoming a Namibian household name.

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27 year-old Patricia Ochurus was born in Windhoek and "grew up in the streets of Katutura," the country's oldest and biggest township.

Namibians first took notice of her when she developed the traditional classic Ai-se Mama Se into the jazzy rendition Afrika Tsela. This song, as the first song on the album A Handful of Namibians with Papa Wemba, introduces the world to Namibian musical treasures, and musicians now becoming solo artists in their own right.

Patricia aims to continue "keeping the culture" by singing in her native tongue, Damara. "Singing in my language is a such a good feeling. It is somehow keeping me close to who I am and my roots," she explains. She wishes other Namibian musicians would do the same. "We are Namibians, not Americans or Europeans. Why should we try and imitate other people?"

The woman now compared to two of South Africa's leading female singers, Judith Sephuma and the late Brenda Fassie, started her career in singing at the age of seven when she joined the women's church choir attended by her mother. Thereafter she joined the Bethel Lutheran Youth Choir, followed by several other church choirs. She also performed with Kayec, a Katutura based multi-cultural youth group, regularly called upon to represent Namibia at international events. "I still perform with Kayec when I have the time. I love the singing and dancing," she says with a big smile.

At the beginning of her professional music career, Patricia thought that being a woman, black and from a poor background, would disadvantage her. She however, soon realised that it would not keep her from what she was born to do--sing.

A period in her career that she will always be grateful for is her experience during the nationwide televised talent search Fame Factory, a Namibian version of Pop Idols. She managed to reach the finals, competing against two other bands for a N$40 000 cash prize and all the fame that goes with it. She was surprised when she reached the finals.

"My sisters and friends told me to believe in myself but I really did not think that I would make it that far," she says. "Fame factory really gave me the platform to introduce myself to my people. Now most people recognise and know me."

Like most Namibian artists, Patricia has a fulltime day job, working as an administrator at Namibian Worker, a newsletter focusing on labour issues. "I have this job because I need the income. Being an artist only does not keep the pot cooking, but I'm also doing it because I like being exposed to different aspects of life, as it contributes to my growth as an artist," she says.

Besides her career and office job, Patricia is also mother to three year old Dandiba (Honey), whom she describes as her joy. In her free time she loves listening to a variety of genres but gospel music and Damara Pantzi, a fusion of pop and traditional Damara music, are her favourite.

Patricia writes most of her music herself, but works closely with her producer, Stephen! Naruseb. She of course would like to spread her wings and test the international scene. "But I will remain Namibian and represent my country," she promises. Another reason for her plans to go international is because she would like to work with artists from other countries, "just to see how they do it."

Her message to young Namibians is to believe in themselves. "If you don't believe in yourself nobody else will. We all have the ability to have a fulfilling and successful life and career."

So, as she urges us in her song Khaima!--it is time for Namibians to stand up and make it happen.
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Title Annotation:Patricia Ochurus
Author:Tibinyane, Natasha
Publication:Sister Namibia
Geographic Code:6NAMI
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Words:685
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