By Timo Shihepo
WINDHOEK -PASTOR Benjamin Dube has promised to bring the house down when he walks onto the stage at The Southern Times Festival of Praise on November 25 at the Independence Stadium in Windhoek.
Speaking from his base in Johannesburg, Dube – who just completed a tour of the United Kingdom –also opened up about how he battled difficulties that almost led him to question his faith, quit as a pastor and musician on more than one occasion.
The Southern Times (TST): When and what events led you to become a pastor?
Pastor Benjamin Dube (BD): I was born into a Christian family. I grew up under strict parents to a point where we actually started a family gospel group. Age 14, that’s when I started and I accepted the Lord Jesus.
As I grew older, this was building in me, having the love for people and at the same time having the love for God. This led up to 1992 when I really had a personal experience in my calling and became a pastor.
TST: You have quite a large family. Do they have any musical interests and abilities?
BD: My father was actually a guitarist; my mum was a singer and is still a singer. My father passed away in 1976 but he used to play in church services. My mum, however, is actually the one that got us into music.
My siblings, two sisters and two brothers – I’m the last born – also got interested. I became the one that got more interested in playing instruments at an early age. I played the guitar, and they would sing. My elder brother is my assistant now in my church, he is a pastor too and my mum is also a pastor. The other members of my family are also in my church.
TST: You have performed in many countries but this is your first big concert in Namibia. What can your Namibian fans expect from you?
BD: It’s going to be electrifying, really electrifying. Anyone who is still undecided should perhaps check with our UK fans who came to see us last week. I can tell you they are going to get far more than they expect. No-one is going to be sitting down. Why? Because God has really graced me and favoured me with the anointing to really bless people. I’m not just going to be entertaining, I’m going to be ministering to people who are serving and doing what God wants me to do.
I promise you, whether it’s a praise song or worship song, you’ll all be on your feet. I’m preparing for a show to remember.
TST: Why did you accept an invitation to perform in Namibia?
BD: This is the third time performing in Namibia but not as big as it’s expected to be next week. I’m expecting a big turnout. Certainly, it was a great experience when I performed in a church in Namibia. I’m trusting and believing that Namibians will be coming out in numbers this time around because it’s at the stadium.
The partnership with The Southern Times newspaper will propel the show to greater heights. It will be bigger and will bring all Namibians to enjoy and be blessed.
TST: How often and for how long do you practice? Do you plan a set for a specific show and work on it?
BD: We practice for a long time for a specific show. I can tell you that we started two months ago because we had both the UK tour and the Namibia tours in mind, so we have been going back and forth in checking with Namibia as to which songs they actually love, which is of my rapture. Without a doubt we discovered that many know ‘Jehovah is Your Name’ and ‘When I Think About Jesus’. These are songs that are really known by both older people and young people. And that’s what I’m trying to attract in my ministry – a generational mix.
TST: How do you think your fans will remember this performance in Namibia?
BD: Well, I am hoping and trusting that I would not only interact with the public but I hope to interact with some of the Namibian musicians, especially gospel artists. I want for us to expand, impact, empower and even to develop a relationship between Namibia and South Africa. That’s what wins battles, that’s what wins wars. We need to network and become better. That’s exactly what I am hoping for and actually get that opportunity to meet them.
TST: You have performed for over 20 years; do you still get nervous before you go on stage?
BD: I don’t think anyone could actually go past that stage.
BD: [Laughs] Nerves are not a bad thing. That feeling actually helps you to perform extraordinarily, when there is that anxiety and that feeling of wondering if the crowd will respond. That makes you work harder. It doesn’t change, it’s going to be like that forever.
You use those nerves to your advantage and you actually deliver more than you are expected to deliver. I never get used to it. In fact, I would happily have someone else doing what I’m doing because every time you think it’s show time, you’re thinking ‘Oh, Lord, help me now.’
TST: What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?
BD: All I can say is, they must prepare, and that’s the most important thing. That feeling will overcome you, when you know you’re not ready. But if you are ready, you’re prepared, you do everything in your power. If you’re a singer, you must take good care of your voice and always learn from others and practice. Try and make sure that you push yourself and I promise you that even if that anxiety or fear comes back, it turns around and it becomes your energy.
This will enable you to perform to an extent and level that everybody didn’t expect you to. It’s so important that at the same time, you always acknowledge God and the gift he has given you. Partner with him and acknowledge that he will always be there with you.
TST: What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighbourhood or town or any country?
BD: To start with the first, I actually shared a stage with some great American musicians such as James Cleveland and the Clark Sisters. That was groundbreaking for my career because I was actually chosen to open for them. Sharing the stage with Andraé Crouch was the big highlight. I always followed him, I always sung his songs and my grooming process took place through his songs and I kept on singing his songs.
TST: Your mentor from afar?
BD: Oh yes! He actually was my mentor from far. Yes, truth be told. He is the one who inspired me to be a minister of the gospel. He was an evangelist through music. For me, he turned my ministry around because I was just a singer before and immediately when I listened to his music that changed and meeting him and sharing the stage with him in South Africa was just the cherry on top for me. After that, I also shared the stage with many other great musicians, which is also an honour for me.
TST: How do you balance your music with other obligations – children, and church services?
BD: [Laughter] Now that’s a good, good question! All I can say is there is time for everything and one has to make time for everything. I just came back from the United Kingdom and I told myself after I arrived that for the next three days, I wasn’t going to do anything but just to stay with my family.
But when I arrived in South Africa on Tuesday, I was told that I needed to be in Nelspruit on Thursday. I said I’m sorry; I can’t because I want to spend time with my family. When it comes to the church, I’m glad that with the years that the church has been around, God gave me people to help me when I’m not around. My brother, who is my assistant, is the man on the ground. I’m just like an overseer. Even when I’m away, he keeps in touch, just reporting to me and telling me how things are running. Whether I’m there or not, people experience a good level of anointing when coming to worship.
TST: Is there any period in your life when you thought of quitting?
BD: Oh, boy, oh boy! There has been many times when the enemy tried to destroy me whereby I felt like you know what, maybe I wasn’t really called by God. I remember there was a time where I was really struggling, you know, to make a living and that time God had already called me and I knew that I’m going to be a preacher and a pastor. So, yes, there was a time and there have been many times where the enemy has really tried me and I asked myself a question, is it worth it or not?
TST: How did you overcome the early struggles of becoming a pastor and a musician?
BD: God has proven to me that if you trust him, you are patient enough and you wait on him, whatever he has promised will come to pass. And right now I’m living my destiny!
TST: You are very passionate about women’s rights and violence against women. What drives this feeling?
BD: God has given us a responsibility, especially as men, to be the women’s caretakers and to take care of them, to be providers for them. The moment you don’t live up to your calling then you lose your integrity, you lose your honour and even your respect. Any man who abuses women or children has no honour. We are the ones who have given seed for the children to come through. And as matter of fact, Biblically a woman was taken out of a man. That’s why I’m passionate about it because I want to be in the will of God and be like God, you know.
And so any man who beats a woman is beating himself, it’s even in the Bible. So how foolish can you be? I don’t care what the woman has done to you. God is the one who is able to punish when somebody does wrong. Also, it’s the same with the women – don’t lay your hands on men.
TST: Anything else you wish to add?
BD: All I can say is that I’m looking forward to coming to Namibia and I really would like to invite every person in Namibia.
Please come, white, black, coloured, children or old people. Because truly speaking, you cannot miss this visit. You cannot miss it. Come in numbers, fill up the place and you will see what God is going to do. God bless you and I love you. Thank you The Southern Times and everyone over there and God bless you all. I’m looking forward to it!
* Benjamin Dube and his sons will be guests of honour at a Fatherhood Breakfast meeting being held under the theme ‘Raising Real Men & Women’ hosted by The Southern Times in conjunction with the Office of the First Lady of Namibia, Madam Monica Geingos, at Avani Hotel in Windhoek on Friday, November 25, starting 7.30AM. Attendance FREE