Windhoek - His passion for music was first noticed at only 10 months. At that time, he liked turning plates into drums while the forks and table knives would be the drumsticks.
Being the first child to a couple that had waited for five years to hold its first bundle of joy, the attention he got led to the early nurturing of his musical passion.
He owned his first drum set at 18 months and now at 11 he has already done a live performance with renowned South African gospel choir, Joyous Celebration, and acclaimed Zimbabwean musical group, Zimpraise.
Othniel Vutabwashe, the son of Heartfelt International Ministries (HIM) founders Apostle Tavonga and Pastor Chipo Vutabwashe (Pastor C), is a multi-instrumentalist. He plays keyboard, bass guitar, lead guitar and, of course, his first love - the drums.
The Heritage Primary School Grade 7 pupil plays for the HIM Choir as well as HIM Jubilee Choir (children’s ministry).
His passion and talent in music has seen him receive a scholarship that will cover his tuition from Grade 7 until Upper 6.
“My parents are my first role models because they give me wisdom and guidance. Musically, I am inspired by American drummer Calvin Rodgers. I also love South African drummer Thato Rapapane, who plays for Joyous Celebration Choir,” says Othniel with an amiable smile, which presents him as a hospitable character.
He performed with Joyous Celebration Choir when the group was in Zimbabwe during HIM’s Hallelujah night, which was held at the church’s International Overflow Centre (IOC) in Ashdown Park, Harare, in May 2017.
“It was like a dream come true because I have always loved Joyous Celebration Choir for a very long time. I was very excited. Mostly when my dream comes true, I get so excited that I get more courage and confidence.”
He says his passion for music drives him to learn new skills from YouTube tutorials even though he attends music lessons at his school, and learns other tips at church. Othniel says he also adds value to other instrumentalists and learns more from other instrumentalists, including his brother Earnest, who plays in church.
In 2015, Othniel had his first performance before a huge crowd at IOC and since then he has been serving the Lord by ministering through music.
“I am grateful to the Lord because he gave me the talents I have and when I am playing in church, I feel happy because I will be serving the Lord. Sometimes I compose my own instrumentals spontaneously and in music we call it a jack. I remember at one time I just started playing the drums randomly, and came up with a rhythm which was enhanced by other instrumentals and lyrics, then it became a song in church,” says the talented youth.
Many have been wondering how Othniel juggles music and school. He told The Southern Times in an interview last month that the two do not clash because music is also a practical subject at his school. He joined the music classes when he was in Grade 3.
Othniel also takes his studies seriously and sees himself as a great musician, a pastor and an entrepreneur when he grows up.
“My advice to other young people my age, who may want to also play musical instruments like me is that they should stay in their dreams and believe they will make it. For those who want to be like me, I want them to be better than me, because I am just setting an example to show that it is possible.”
Othniel’s mother said he developed his love for instruments other than the drums at eight.
“We noticed his passion for drums when he used to hit our plates with a fork and table knife while we were having a meal on a coffee table or soon after. At one year six months, the passion became louder. As parents, we started fostering his talent by buying him a small drum set in Limpopo, South Africa. Every time, we travelled out of the country, we would buy him new drum sets. However, him being an infant, he would break some of the sets,” said Othniel’s mother.
“When he was eight, he started developing a passion for the keyboard, bass guitar and lead guitar. He plays these very well.”
His father also added that Othniel is always committed in everything he does and that he hates failure.
“His passion for drums has been so consistent that even when we travel as a family, you will see him having his sticks and even sleeping with his sticks next to him. At school he always scores high, he hates to fail,” he said.
“At three years old, I took him to Zimbabwe School of Music when they launched their junior development programme where I would sit and watch him being trained and also play. In 2015, he was invited by my spiritual father Pastor Robert Kayanja to play in church, in Uganda, and he did a remarkable act.
“We see a world shaker in him; we see a great leader in him; he is a unique personality and selfless. God blessed him with wisdom and he developed sensitivity with the Holy Spirit early.”
He said Othniel has also developed interest in sound mixing using different software on iPhone.
Othniel’s parents have documented his musical works and they are documenting more.