David Ndjavera, a pioneer of a success story
David Ndjavera is known by many in the theatre and film industry. He’s known as a theatre educator, award winning actor, director, scriptwriter and guru of the local industry. David has been in the acting fraternity for over 20 years doing mainly stage acting. Alongside theatre performance, he has also penetrated the film industry as an actor and assistant director of many local and international films.
Over several years, David has portrayed various characters ranging from sangoma in “Joos and Ijambo” to pastor in
“A ticket to become a Mayor” and also a policeman in the well known movie, Katutura.
The 48 year old who is currently a lecturer at the College of the Arts (COTA) and studying towards his Masters in Arts at the University of Namibia (Unam), has now been involved in over 50 stage productions and has over 5 theatre and film awarded accolades under his belt.
David was selected Best Director in the theatre production for Of Mice and Men in 2013 at the National Theatre and Film Awards, Best Male Actor for the play My Children and My Africa in 2010 and was also nominated in the category of the Art Ambassador of the Windhoek Lager in 2014. Furthermore he was nominated in the category of Best Actor in the film 100 Bucks, produced and directed by Oshosheni Hiveluah.
Davids first appearance on stage was in 1986 when he was cast as extra in Freddy Philander’s King of the Dump play.
“I was to appear as part of a crowd that scavenges at the dumpsite for food. I had no direction from the director between the two hours of being cast and opening the performance,” says David, adding he improvised his part by ‘standing up to the main character, played by the feared actor Philander himself, and confronted him on why he was taking everyone’s find on the dump as if he was some sort of a king, to which he replied that he was ‘The King’.
Philander, the author, director and actor took him under his wing in 86. From 1992, he started working as a theatre instructor for the arts department of the Ministry of Education, Art and Culture while tutoring in schools and teachers resource centres. “I have also written about ten plays published by Gamsberg Macmillan, as part of an anthology in a book alongside nine others,” says David.
His personal favorite so far is The Bride and The Broom, which he performed in 1999 in the capital. “It was the first play that won me the coveted prize of ‘best play’ and I did not even know yet that I was a writer-director for stage,” he says. Another self-written one-person play, To Serve and Destroy, was also talk of the town on the strength of his unique, strong and superb acting abilities. The play was his second win of the festival that was staged for the 21st consecutive year in 2014 at the Franco-Namibia Cultural Centre (FNCC).
Describing the current local theatre industry, David says it’s thriving against all odds. “Little effort is done to develop the industry as there is only one backer. The government is under-staffed with overworked officials who are barely making it under the load of demand,” he says, adding that entities are fighting to keep head-above-water against the ever present technological presence of television and the world wide web. “These media forms are taking over and in the process suffocating all art forms including theatre,” he explained.
The first thing David does before he appears on stage, he says, is pray for strength and protection from the critics. “I summon the strength to stay focused and to believe that everyone in the audience will be fed from my energy and that which I am about to present to them,” says David.
Last year, David performed in three plays: Nothing but the Truth, To Serve and to Destroy, and Camelthon and the Rhino Horns. According to him, 2017 is a year of hard work. He has already begun with his first musical for the year, titled District Six. He will also start performance in July this year on two plays, Zoo Story and Variation on a Blue Bench respectively, in Belgium.