When most preferred the easy route, Kaiho Rikambura had no choice – born to a rough life; he had to dig deeper to eventually thrive by finding a niche in learning a foreign language and entering the Malaysian film industry. His is an inspirational story of surviving against all odds,
VIRINAO MUZUMA reports.
It is not every day that you get to read good stories about young Namibians studying abroad, but Kaiho Rikambura’s is quite enchanting if not inspirational. Kaiho is a young Himba man from Opuwo, Kunene studying an Honours Degree in Education in Malaysia at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) under the Ministry of Education’s NSFAF programme. He was born and raised in a small village on the outskirts of Opuwo. The 8th of 10 children, Rikambura was raised by a single mother, a time in his life he recalls to have been rough. This is in contrast to the life many well-off children have, with almost everything catered for and thus transitioning from one chapter to another smoothly. His mother was a worker at a local school in the village and already by the nature of her work, making ends meet was a challenge. Despite the daily challenges, the grace and mother instincts have enable his mother to work hard to at least provide for the basics. “Our mother worked extremely hard and she made sure we were well taken care off,” said Rikambura. After a heavy and long day of work, his mom would bake traditional bread to feed her children. Sometimes, they had meat but this was a luxury as he can vividly count on his fingers. Her salary did not allow for city-defined balanced diet.
Although Rikambura might not have had the luxuries of a proper childhood, he remains content and celebrates his childhood for it got him to where he is today. His childhood, parallel to his challenges, also features his sharp mind on academics. He finished top of his class in 2006 and registered for an IT degree programme at the then Polytechnic of Namibia now Namibia University of Science and Technology. In a mix of events, things got tough and resulted into him suffering from depression, leading him to eventually putting his studies on extended vacation. After a few years of rest, he then enrolled at University of Namibia’s Neudamm Agricultural Campus for a course in agriculture in 2008. This did not last for long either as his past starting hunting him. “I dropped my studies again and coming to think about it, I think it was made worse because I have always liked IT and I was not happy at Neudamm either.” Rikambura opened a third chapter in his life by joining the Namibian Defence Force in 2011. “I had no other choice as life was becoming more expensive and I had to feed myself. This was why I joined the force. I was not getting any younger so I had to start being self-dependent,” he said.
His roots in the film industry struck the grounds in 2013 when he applied for a scholarship to pursue his studies in Malaysia. “In a short excited flashback, the Ministry of Education accepted my application and the rest was history.” First things first; Rikambura’s first foot in Malaysia was placed on learning the language for things were not as comprehensible as in Windhoek and his home village in Opuwo. Currently in his final year of his Honours Degree in Education with specialty in IT, the Namibian-Opuwo-born has learned to toast and tussle with official language Malay. He has beaten his depression and is very happy. “Maybe coming to Malaysia was the break I needed. I am grateful to God for all he put me through for I’m now stronger and can take in any challenge because I have been through it all,” said the beamish Rikambura. On actors website, Kaiho is described as –‘the 28-year-old male from Namibia, speaks Bahasa Melayu fluently, English, Bahasa Indonesia, Afrikaans and a bit of Mandarin. He is enthusiastic, energetic, patient and a hard worker.’ The hardworking student was spotted during an
International Malay language Speaking contest where he recited a poem in the local language with contestants from all over the world battling for a hefty price of USD 700. He was not the overall winner but was eventually scouted by the local TV producers to become a TV feature. “I was invited to act on a 13 episodes sitcom and that has introduced me to the film industry.” Early this year, Rikambura acted on a film called ‘Mind Your Language’ of a Malaysian version. “Because we are a bunch of foreign actors learning the local language, now and then we do blunders which often blend in with the comedy,” said the actor. The role of the teachers in the film was acted out by Malaysian gurus. This gave the rookie the chance to rub shoulders with the big names. The film will be aired on a local Malaysia TV and is expected to hit the screens of about 800 000 viewership. Parallel to his shine in film are his studies which equally need attention. Asked how he balances the two, the young actor puts it that acting is more of an extramural activity. “I am enjoying acting but I do it when I am free of my studies. In fact, it keeps me busy and prevents me from engaging in negative activities.”