22 November 2012

Namibia: Govt Should Support Artists

Windhoek — The government needs to support local musicians to enable them to become competitive at international level, says Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) Secretary Dr Elijah Ngurare.

Ngurare was speaking at a one-day Namibian Music Industry Workshop held on November 10.

The workshop tackled issues affecting the country's music industry such as competitive music royalties, competition in the industry and performance fees. In attendance were the country's top musicians, as well as upcoming musicians, music producers, dancers, choreographers and music promoters.

"Twenty-two years after independence if we have poor celebrities we have no one to blame but ourselves, ourselves as a government, ourselves as a society. There is no reason twenty-two years after independence why every ministry does not have a budget dedicated to entertainment with the view of ensuring that every ministry invites Namibian musicians to perform and pays them," said Ngurare.

He called for musicians to be rewarded for their hard work and for government to render assistance to artists. "We have a duty, all of us to every young person in the music industry, and yes everybody makes mistakes, why judge them harshly? The stigma attached if somebody makes a mistake and then everybody else is wrong - I don't think that is right. In this industry unity is key and it should be equated to learning," he said.

He said the industry should do away with speaking ill about each other and instead work together and build the industry, as educators and role models for the rest of the country.

"Politainment is a way of combining politics with entertainment and I went to my elders and at first they could not understand it. This was our way of reaching to the born-frees by letting other young people speak to them on relevant matters and getting young musicians who felt comfortable to be on the campaign trail with us to perform because they have followers," he said.

He added that 'politainment' was not only introduced for the purpose of political campaigns, but to promote local artists and their music.

"Politainment should not be a one-off event that political parties do. It should be the government connecting with the population. We are not rich but government has a lot of money and they have budgets. If each of our musicians becomes a millionaire, then Namibia should be happy for that," he said.

He stressed the need for ministries and embassies across the world to host events that will allow musicians exposure to the outside world.

Ngurare made reference to annual events such as the popular Hart van Windhoek music festival, which he said does very little in including local talents, but would rather bring in a list of foreign acts to perform which in turn "contradicts the name of the event - Hart van Windhoek".

"It is better to use our own people, why should we bring other people here under the mindset that it is because they speak better and so forth. This is how it is right now," he said.

He also encouraged local radio stations to ensure that 95 percent of their music content is local. "What makes the difference is that these musicians are able to get royalties for their talent - otherwise we are just talking, I think that is what matters most. Twenty-two years after independence we cannot continue to say colonialism did this, it can't be true," he said.

"Let us hook up to take the music industry to the highest level and make sure that we hook up for the love of Namibian music - and make sure that at every corner our music outshines and our media hooks us up with local music. Let's ensure that countries like South Africa's music industry are flooded with our music as well," he said.

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