Felix Johannes, well-known by his stage name Shikololo, said fainting after a heavy drinking spree and waking up in a hospital bed with his teary mother by his bedside was enough to get him to change to a sober lifestyle. Shikololo first came to the national stage in the late 1990s and early 2000s with his unique style of rapping in the Oshiwambo language. He soon fell from being a once prominent fixture on stages along other celebrities and well-known musicians, and was often seen doing impromptu rapping performances to whoever is willing to listen, at bars and hangout places. He also made headlines with his inability to hold down a job.
Now nearly two years later, Shikololo reflects, and with a tone of sincerity speaks of his Damascus moment that commenced when he woke up in hospital on that fateful with his mother by his bedside.
“My mother’s exact words were ‘let us go home it is enough’. That was the beginning of my transformation,” related Shikololo.
Shikololo, who turned 40 on 23 January, said he lost himself in the entertainment industry at a young age and that is where his drinking habits began. He confesses his love for beer and sometimes marijuana, “but when I had none of that, I had whatever I could lay my hands on. But my first love has always been beer,” said Shikololo.
He now laments how the journey to recovery was crude but despite all odds he has been sober for the last two years after struggling to let go of the bottle for months.
The first step to his transformation was leaving Windhoek and all that he has ever-known, including his belongings, and relocating to Oshakati were he has been living for the past two years. Recently, Shikololo has moved back to capital to hunt for a job and to release an album on which he tells his life story.
Like many other youths at his age, he consumed alcohol to drown his problems. Although he was known to be destructive, he says the one thing that never left him in his crazy moments was ‘discipline’.
“Deep down in my heart I still had the discipline which was instilled in me at home,” as he speaks of growing up with an aunt after independence.
Shikololo like many other children born in exile, spent their childhood in camps and were sent to school by SWAPO and only came to Namibia after independence.
After decades of battling with the bottle Shikololo said he finally knows who he really is and what he wants in life, a feeling he didn’t know for more than half his life.
“When you get sober, you find out your age, that you are a man and that you have children. I knew I had children, but so what? So many things did not matter when I was intoxicating myself,” said Shikololo.
Shikololo is a father of three children and spends time trying to mend fences for the time spent apart. He chips in that he is just a normal father who was going through hardships maintaining that he finally has a healthy relationship with his children.
Although he only took a step to transform after landing in hospital, the idea to change has been a long time coming. His unlawful arrest and implication in a drug case, which dragged on for more than four years, coupled with the loss of fellow musician friends such as Pablo, Pedrito, YT de Wet and La Chox, were some of the driving factors that led to his change.
“All that struck me, because I could have died in the same manner. But out of my arrest I crafted a beautiful piece called ecstasy. The media in particular made [newspaper] sales out of my arrest but when I was found not guilty in was suddenly not newsworthy,” said Shikololo.
Apart from losing his friends, he also lost his girlfriend and his job. At the end of his drinking habit, he said he realised how much he had lost out on life.
“I didn’t even know the basics, the need to rest or even have a meal. That is how deep alcohol was in me,” said Shikololo.
At 40, the renowned musician wants to become an activist and aid in rehabilitating youths who have also turned to the bottle. He says it is never too late to change, but for him his arrogance and pride stood in his way for much too long.
“I probably got the best advice all my life, but I was too arrogant to listen because I thought it was too late to change. Here I am today and I now know it is never too late,” he said.