Windhoek — Rapper singer-songwriter Jericho Gawanab better known as Jericho has walked through the most difficult paths most artists endure when living the life of an entertainer. Living in the limelight usually comes at a price if you were never used to it, as money, fame, alcohol, and drugs become easily accessible in the blink of an eye.
Jericho witnessed many things growing up in the dusty streets of Damara Location in Katutura. His late father was not exactly a positive role model and he learned negative actions from him at a young age, which ultimately landed him in jail for a while.
But, he made sure he rose to the top to become the leading face of the hip-hop industry in the country when he was released from prison. However, his fall from grace started when his music career stopped flourishing after he was crowned the 2011 'Male Artist of the Year, at the Namibian Annual Music Awards (NAMAs).
The stress and depression crept heavily in him and to make matters worse he lost his father in the same space. The environment which he grew up in also did not help as the location has shebeens in every street with drugs being sold at every second house, he related.
J-Twizzle, as he is known now, started drinking heavily, mixing with the wrong crowd at the same time, which did not take long for him to start experimenting with marijuana and mandrax then he graduated to using crack cocaine.
"When my mother started crying, I realised I needed help because I had lost a lot of weight because life did not matter to me anymore at that time. Every dollar I made went to my addiction and I stopped playing my fatherly role towards my own children." he confessed.
Jericho knew that he was far gone and decided to confront his demons and asked for his family's assistance when he opened up about his problem. His aunt Bience Gawanas, who is a Special Adviser on Africa at the United Nations (UN), paid for his two-month stay in a rehabilitation facility.
"I've seen worse people going through a lot in rehab; people doing heroin and not completing their stay. The dry out period is the most excruciating process an addict can go through because your inner cells are looking for marijuana and crack. You feel your body needs it and your body feels it wants it, especially when you are in there. To me being in rehab was the best decision I made in my life because I was skinny to the bone," he related.
The rapper, who is now born-again, felt that he had to change his ways when he got out of rehab. He decided to change the living environment that he got so used to and devoted his life to God. He confesses that he has fallen off the wagon a bit but maintains he is getting stronger and staying on the path to righteousness for the betterment for himself and family. He constantly attends counselling, prays and has a good support system that helps him to move forward.
"I come from a humble home. If you listen closely to my songs 'Heaven is missing an angel', you will hear me doing small prayers in my songs, as I was destined to walk this path. My humble background and my Christian family upbringing made me realise I would choose this path in the end. I'm not 100 percent there yet but I'm getting there slowly but surely," he shared.
Jericho will be dropping his new album in August, which will be dedicated to God and feels that this is not for show, but for himself. He maintains that he does not need pity from anybody because whether "you do bad or good people will always talk".
"I'm not doing this to impress people; I'm doing this for me, to be a better person for my kids and myself I'm doing things for the right reasons. I still have my fans that love my music and people are proud of what I'm doing and that is what matters the most for me now," he said.
Jericho will be performing tonight at Western Restaurant in Karibib and then on Saturday in Outjo at Chill Spot.