Namibian rapper Latoya Lucile Mwoombola whose stage name is Lioness doubles as a medical doctor. You can call her a doctor by day, rapper by night because she is a medical intern who has been balancing work as a front liner amid the coronavirus pandemic and rapping when she takes off her scrubs.
Windhoek-born Mwoombola admits balancing the two jobs is not easy but she lives for moments like these. “I don’t recommend it,” she said.
“Working hard for me is like breathing. I did a 30-hour call at the hospital and then went to shoot a video straight after that. I collapsed in my kitchen from exhaustion because I hadn’t slept for nearly two days!”
Her older sister, who is a music producer, influenced her to get into music — rap to be precise — because her singing was not top-notch at the time. Also, according to her, rap is something she has always balanced alongside her academics.
“I did it through high school, I did it through med school, and I am doing it now as a professional. It was always a duel synergy —one with the other. I’m not downplaying either of my professions.”
Mwoombola has earned a lot of admiration in the Namibian rap scene, first for being a force to be reckoned with in the studio and secondly for saving lives especially during this pandemic and for doing so effortlessly.
When the doctors are worn out with double shifts or in isolation, the interns take over and fill in for them because the patients are the priority.
Mwoombola became a doctor because she likes helping people. Growing up in a small community, she realized there was a shortage of doctors at every point in time. She then decided to be a medical doctor to give back to her community.
Her debut album was Pride of Cilq and she recently released her second album, Wish You Were Here amid the pandemic which comes with its own dynamics. Mwoombola cannot go out promoting her new album as she would love to but the new way of life has also helped in terms of streaming.
Now streaming has been monetized on various platforms so if she is not at the hospital saving lives, she is at home looking for ways to monetize her music on the internet. She said she got her work ethic from her late mother whom she lost three years ago to ovarian cancer.
“I think I get the whole workaholic thing from my mother,” she said. “She did her law degree, got her PhD and raised my sister and I all on her own. I’m still in shock because my mother was the healthiest person I knew.”
Female rappers generally have to put in twice the work as their male counterparts and Mwoombola admits things are better for her than her predecessors. The majority of her fans are women so she always tries to inspire and uplift women with her lyrics.
“I think Namibia is finally at a point where they are simply ok with seeing women rap. It’s been difficult for some of the other women that came before me,” she said.
Her rap style is welcomed both home and abroad as Afro-pop is making waves internationally. Lioness fuses English with her native tongue, Oshiwambo so her music is relevant today and people naturally gravitate towards her organic sound.
She featured other African artistes on her new album which talks much about love. Many have asked if she would ever quit one job for the other. Frankly, Mwoombola is unsure at the moment as she enjoys both. She views being a doctor as a job and music as her passion.
“Music is a break for me and then I have my real job. Until I reach a point where I can make the kind of revenues that are double my profession, then I might consider giving one up for the other.
“But I get a lot of messages from young girls and guys who think I’m an inspiration, saying, ‘how do you do it?’ I can’t even tell you. It just happens. So many times I want to quit one, but music is my passion.”