Mthabisi Tshuma, Showbiz Correspondent
Nomina’s music videos on internationally acclaimed MTV Base and hearing her music blazing radio charts in the United States, one cannot believe that she is a girl who grew up in the thicket of Tjankwa in Bulilima district.
For Pamela Nothando Bhulu who uses the stage name Nomina, growing up from being a village entertainer to gracing airwaves in Europe and the US is a dream come true.
From a young age, she always told her family and those around her as they sat around a bonfire that she would one day go to Europe and make it big there. By then, this sounded like a dream with most dismissing her ambition as daydreaming.
But as the Kalanga phrase Nlomo unolowa (umlomo uyaloya) attests, her words indeed came true when she was invited by her best friend, Linda Assimwe to join her in Germany.
With her musical dream slowly being fulfilled, a hard-working Nomina quickly took up lessons in the German language. She also had a business degree from a university in Botswana.
Hidden in her closet was the idea to pursue her musical journey that started way back in the village.
The name Nomina, according to the musician, means: “I found myself”.
She says the name is also an embodiment of how versatile she has evolved as an artiste.
With the help of veteran broadcaster Ezra Tshisa Sibanda, Saturday Leisure recently caught up with the singer and storyteller who has already taken the international stage by storm.
Nomina’s music fuses RnB, Soul, Pop and delicate electro-beats with emotional depth, lyricism and an immaculately expressive vocal-style. This shows she is not limited by genre or style.
The Germany-based singer-songwriter who once stayed in Botswana, is giving audiences a new, international, fresh and vibrant sound that is laced with African rhythms. Those that have sampled her works say she is the greatest Kalanga musician of this generation.
Speaking to Saturday Leisure, Nomina took this reporter down memory lane and said her journey to Europe was one that was a long time coming.
“I come from koTshankwa, koBhulu. I stayed there till I finished my Grade 7. My parents worked in Botswana so I used to spend holidays with them in Gaborone. I finally joined them for my high school and relocated to Germany when a friend invited me.
“Since then, I haven’t looked back and have been pursuing my music career here,” Nomina said.
The charismatic performer has generated a powerful buzz around her due to her distinctive song-writing. She has often been compared to artistes such as Sia, Alicia Keys and Lira.
Starting out with a music band in Botswana named Desert Crew, Nomina has worked with Germany-based hip-hop bands among them Wailing Trinity, Later Accoustic Aduo and Roots Worries.
The singer’s recent single I Still Stand has shown without a shadow of doubt that she is destined for international superstardom.
She said her debut album that will be titled I Found Myself will take people on a journey of passion, fun, misery, pain, hope and love.
Following the phenomenal success of her singles Amadlozi and Fetish Daddy, which attracted millions of views on YouTube, it is crystal clear that Nomina’s talent, passion and unique cross-cultural sound and style speaks powerfully to the hearts and minds of those listening across the globe.
“Amadlozi held position one on the US Radio urban charts for weeks after its release and the video was featured on MTV and MTV Base. Fetish Daddy is playing on BBC, Phoenix FM and many other major radio stations globally.
“With my innate ability to fuse the bold and beautiful as one, my music dives into thought-provoking and highly relatable emotions,” said the songstress.
Nomina said she seeks to help, heal and unite people through her music.
With her first singles Mamaland (2016) and Don’t Cry Africa (2017), Nomina has already gained millions of fans in the global village if the views to her work on YouTube are anything to go by although being in a foreign land has not been all that rosy.
“Staying in a foreign country is not easy at all as there are so many challenges which are mostly cultural differences including racism at some point. It’s a long process to adapt, but I tried to fit in where I could.”
While trying to adapt to the new country, Nomina said the huge expectations from people back home have also had a strain on her.
“On the other hand, I’ve also had to deal with high expectations from people back home who believe that being in such a foreign country is being in some kind of paradise. Well, I must say it’s a struggle to be a foreigner, but if you have genuine goals and you strive for more, you might find support along the way,” she said.
Fortunately for her, her strong character has seen her being made an ambassador of World Peace Berlin in association with the United Nations. Not forgetting her countrymen, she is using this role to improve the lives of her countrymen as she is mooting ways to alleviate hunger.
“As a UN Ambassador, I’ve a project I’m working on. We have 17 sustainable goals for the UN, so I decided to start with hunger meaning stopping hunger in Zimbabwe. I felt like I had to start in Zimbabwe especially in Plumtree, where I was born.
“So I am still working on this project with World Peace Berlin with the hope to fulfil it in association with Sizo Health organisation in Bulawayo.” – @mthabisi_mthire.