By Vickson Hangula Shame on you! These are the only words I could find as a reaction to the news that the newly constituted National Arts Council was allocated a mere N$230 000! Really, what the f@#*k is wrong with some of our so-called decision makers? Why can’t they ever fulfil our hopes and expectations? I am angry, very angry. I have a reason to be angry, because towards the end of last month, I had high hopes that my 16-year long wait to live off my God-given talents would finally become reality, just to see those hopes disappear into thin air once more. Arts Life had put it so well in the suggestion that, with the rumoured or speculated budget of just a little over N$50 million, something like N$13 million could be allocated to each of the four important arts promotion bodies in the country. It was such a good idea, and god knows that even though the N$13 million was not really enough for the most important of all arts promotion bodies, namely the National Arts Council, it would have been a good start, nevertheless. But no, some really twisted minded idiot or idiots who do not understand the importance of true arts and culture promotion decided that N$230 000 is enough for arts promotion nationwide! Godammit, you guys up there! How long will this go on? I mean, what happened to the sweet words of hope that Minister Mutorwa used when motivating the N$53, 394 million allocation to his ministry? To quote him, “My ministry’s mandate is to identify art and culture, develop and promote the creative talents and artistic skills of Namibians for the purpose of income generation, employment, innovation, design and the nursing of national pride and identity.” Duh..?, is that all supposed to happen on N$230 000, sir? Fine, I did not expect that a 13-million-dollar allocation would really happen, but certainly did not expect National Arts Council to receive in the thousands, and, with all due respect and recognition to the equally important role these other entities play too, but, while lesser important bodies receive millions of dollars. We were told last year when the members of the National Arts Council were appointed that the then allocation of the N$200 000 dollars budget was to help set up office only and that a better allocation would be given this financial year. Is the additional N$30 000 a better allocation Tate Mutorwa was talking about? What a shame! I am saying it here loud and clear, never mind the repercussions, that whoever made this N$230 000, whoever made this allocation, shame on you! You don’t belong in the ministry whose responsibility is to promote arts and culture. Clean up your desk and go! I don’t believe it did, but even if this decision was made from the highest office in the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, then I pray that President Pohamba’s first cabinet reshuffle comes soon. Yes please, Comrade President, get rid of them and please consult with us arts and culture practitioners before making the new appointments. And if the decision was made by somebody or some people else in the ministry, (which I believe it was) people who were and continue to just be there to claim a fat monthly cheque and appear important, then it is really high time to boot these people out. Yes, please Minister Mutorwa, it is high time to rid this important ministry of dead wood. If you don’t know who they are, ask us, we will be more than happy to point them out to you. Honourables Mutorwa and Shifeta, it is known that you had consultations with various stakeholders in the arts fraternity and I remember that suggestions and recommendations were even made to Honourable Shifeta during a meeting at the NTN last year, during which Honourable Shifeta committed himself to do his best to ensure that arts promotion would be better funded this year. With an additional N$30 000? There I was, with a new play that I want to showcase at Southern Africa’s best Arts Festival. I used money I could hardly afford to register the play, thinking that surely when the new, better funded National Arts Council is up and running, I would easily get the N$60 000 that I would need to take the group to Grahamstown where we would participate for a week and pay the cast decent fees at last… How wrong I was! Now all I can do is either cancel the registration fee and lose my two thousand dollars or I should again write to beg from foreign missions and agencies in this country, all this just because of some incompetent idiot/s, clearly in the wrong position’s short-sightedness. Dear Lord, where to for a person you have blessed with artistic creativity? Film Commission, National Arts Council, both ways, no hope. Brangelina, perhaps you guys have a US$10 000 to spare for a fellow artist who is not taken seriously by the government he has helped elect to power for over 16 years? Extreme and wishful thinking? Yes, but what other choice do I have? I should be desperate – this is my life I am talking about. I really hope that the newly appointed members of the National Arts Council would not keep quiet and accept this disgrace, just for the sake of a few hundred dollars in sitting allowances. I hope you guys prove your credibility and duty to us the long suffering artists and culture promoters and protest loud and clear that you too, will not accept this pitiful allocation to such and important entity that you belong to. Do that or face the wrath of the people that you represent, by being accused of selling them out. I hope you guys see sense in this plea to you. Don’t let us down the way our leaders have done all these years.
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