You might not know it just yet, but if you happen to fall within the Millennial or Gen Z brackets, odds are you’ve attended an event organised by Shafa. The mastermind behind some of the country’s most iconic music festivals and parties, Shafa Shaimemanya needs no introduction.

Evolving from his career-catalysing stage presence as Ace Da Bass, he now simply goes by the name Shafa – a change he considers essential in communicating his proud Namibian heritage from the get-go. The DJ, events connoisseur and up-and-coming producer finds his greatest source of inspiration from his home continent. While he’s had stints in the dubstep, trap, house and techno genres, Shafa says he is increasingly gravitating towards Afro-centric sounds. It’s this itch to venture deeper into indigenous melodies that bred Shafa’s newest brainwave and love child, Casa De Afro.

In one way or another, Shafa has been running the circuit ever since matriculating. Starting out as a bartender at the legendary Zanzibar, his manager allowed Shafa a few hours of practice before and after shifts. With little experience, these brief moments behind the decks before bartending laid the foundation for the DJ he would become. A stroke of luck, paired with relentless dedication, brought Shafa a golden opportunity, the stuff musicians can only dream of – a bursary to study sound engineering in none other than Malaysia.

Returning to home soil after four years and with a swanky qualification under his belt, Shafa stepped onto the local music scene with full force. However determined he was to make DJing a career, the scope for full-time musicians was, and still is, a fable of struggling artists. Rather serendipitously, Shafa landed a day-time gig in marketing and events coordination for big-name liquor brands, and so his knack for planning the country’s hottest parties manifested. He is also an effortless and authentic networker, paired with some kind of magical predisposition to land in the right room at the right time. It is this skill that has landed him gigs in Cape Town at Pangea Festival, at Artheater in Cologne and Ganz am Wasser in Munich and brought us unforgettable events like The Social Club, a regular migrating music event in the capital playing hip-hop, R&B, deep house and anything your heart desires.

You won’t find him frequenting the Windhoek social scene, spinning disks in every club on any given weekend. Not anymore. Shafa is rather particular about where and when he gets behind the decks, adding that endless Fridays spent DJing for the same crowd is not the reason he became a disk jockey. Shafa plays when and if he is ready to share his deep-seated passion for beats, to get heart rates pumping and feet moving authentically on a dance floor, all through the chemistry that is music. Oftentimes when we do what we love every day, and it becomes our bread and butter, the novelty wears off, the passion fades and – in the case of DJs – they become crowd pleasers. For Shafa there is nothing quite as magical as planning the event, getting people excited and finally stepping on stage to entrance you in a mix he’s been fine-tuning for months.

Shafa’s proudest product to date is BAR-HP – short for between a rock and a hard place. This two-day music festival, which saw its first official event rake in 600 guests in May of 2022, originally started as a camping trip. Between Shafa, Melkies Ausiku and Eloise Sitler, the group chat quickly grew to 50, subsequently a ludicrous sound setup was organised and voilà: at the foot of the Spitzkoppe, amongst close friends and lo vers of techno, the concept was born.

After a couple more trial runs, the festival went public, and this author had the privilege of covering it. Having attended quite a few of his events myself, and experiencing a handful of Shafa’s sets, BAR-HP was particularly special. But he did not only play a massive role in stringing the fairy lights, selling the tickets, getting sponsors and booking international guest DJs… On a dusty Saturday in the desert, in an avocado floppy hat and surrounded by what he has created alongside his friends, Shafa played from his heart – testament to the fact that passion cultivates genius.

Charene Labuschagne

This photoshoot was created for FlyNamibia Magazine by Venture Media, in collaboration with MYNT nightclub and lounge. MYNT hosts regular themed events and international artists. Check out their pages for upcoming events: @mynt_nightclub_windhoek

Photographer: Le Roux van Schalkwyk

Art direction & styling: Charene Labuschagne

Location: MYNT nightclub and lounge

Personality & wardrobe: Shafa