Local Music – The Joys, The Tears

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By Suzette Apollus WINDHOEK “Artists are the wandering librarians of society”, was a sentiment expressed by people involved in the local music industry. “Art is one of the most important pillars in any society, as it defines our cultural identity – it is the “backbone in every nation as it defines where we are as a nation,” said Katutura-based musician Dennis Eiseb. According to the secretary general of the Oruuano Namibia Artist Union, Vincent Mwemba, people don’t give enough support to Namibian artists and their products because they do not understand the value and history of African art. “This can be attributed to our colonial past where people were taught to think of African art as evil,” Mwemba lamented. He also stressed that art should be given priority and be introduced as a promotional subject in the Namibian school curriculum, as it is very important for artists to be able to read and write music in order for them to grow. Both these professionals commended the local media for their support of local artists, hence the steady increase in local content coverage over the last few years. Mwemba was optimistic concerning the future development of art in Namibia and added that it is definitely possible to make art a full-time career. It is of great importance for NBC to promote local music, as it is a matter of national pride. John Max, the Director of Namibian Society of Composers and Authors of Music (Nascam) says that there has been a notable increase in the total amount of music royalties paid out to Namibian artists because public demand has grown and that approximately 45 percent of all royalties paid by Nascam goes to Namibian artists. Royalties paid out to an artist are determined by the frequency and popularity of that particular song played on the radio. They also agreed that negative messages portrayed by some Namibian musicians merely for the purpose of increased record sales should be stopped, because of the harm that these messages may inflict on young and impressionable children who listen to their music.