Embrace Namibian sounds

07 February 2020 | Art and Entertainment

Music is one language. We interact with it through rhythm and beats. If it weren't so, our artists wouldn't be able to collaborate with musicians from other parts of the world.

Put deep thought into this: Words transcend and end up being added to our vocabulary; terms and phrases like 'drip', 'YOLO', 'on God', and the like (come on, you know how the music lingo is).

Honestly, music has broken language barriers, but here's a question: When will Namibian music dominate the African commercial music space? I'm sure the masses will agree with me that it is still going through some gradualism.

Now, as much as African music is evolving, a daily discovery of the internet's crop of new artists will have you asking yourself where Namibian artists are. Bongo Flava, amapiano and Afrobeats have all made a mark and are a force to be reckoned with. The inception of these genres is like any other music genre originating in Africa. Artists went out of their comfort zones to discover their potential artistry.

Namibia is such a diverse society with our own street lingo that other counties can also borrow. You know the way we now make use of 'sabaweli' can be the same way South Africans can make use of 'ove naana' and the like.

Earlier on, I mentioned how Namibian artists are scarce among the new crop of artists dominating the internet. It's not that Namibian artists aren't on the internet; we just lack authenticity and identity to a certain degree. Many have fallen into the trap of imitating sounds from other parts of the continent.

Why aren't more Namibian artists embracing authenticity in their work? The short answer: Like character, authenticity has to be earned.

Being both uncompromisingly authentic and creative isn't easy, and some musicians choose to imitate their influences over doing the work of writing from genuine and thoughtful perspectives. Leaning into another artist's perspective and style is a tempting shortcut musicians often take in the pursuit of success.

All in all, artists aren't the only ones who should take the blame for this phenomenon. Music fans are responsible as well for choosing to buy into music that is mainly inspired by outside influences rather than our own authentic sounds.

We have unique music genres in Namibia such as Oviritje, Damara punch, kwiku and shambo, so why is it that musician who dominate these genres aren't the most commercially celebrated? I would give my two cents but I'm running out of space so I will leave it up to you, the readers, to ponder on that.

Until next time, enjoy this edition.

[email protected]; @MichaelMKAY on twitter

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