Departed, forgotten music hero …Kaujeua Jr. bemoans fading memories of his father …Nam’s notorious neglect of the arts

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Jeremiah Ndjoze

Windhoek-The narrative of Namibian music and its influence on the country’s socio-political landscape would never be complete without mention of the late Jackson Kaujeua.

Seven years following his departure, ideas that people mooted during the mourning period to immortalise the life of this giant of a musician are still just ideas.

The musician sacrificed his plans for a career as a missionary to fight social injustices through music under the Swapo banner.

The promises purportedly made by many prominent Namibians at his memorial service and subsequent burial, seems to have since evaporated.

The late musician’s son, Jackson Kaujeua Jr, does not mince his words on the ‘promises’ about the immortalisation of his father’s memory, as mere political rhetoric.

“That was just political talk. They [politicians] talk like that at public gatherings and when you follow it up with a call, or a visit to their offices, they ask you questions like, ‘who was Jackson Kaujeua and who is he today,” a clearly upset Kaujeua Jr, based in Europe, laments.

“They knew who my father was. They shouldn’t sit there and say they are waiting for the family to act. The family wasn’t there when he was putting his life on the line and the country on the map while composing music to advance the ruling party’s agenda,” Kaujeua Jr fumed in the telephone.

He fingers institutions like the National Arts Council of Namibia (NACN) for lacking innovation while awaiting proposals from the masses, believing the institution could also identify doable ventures, particularly those with a historical or cultural significance to divert some funds to.

The NACN manages the National Arts Fund to advance the Namibian creative arts industry. The National Arts Fund Act of 2005 established the fund.

Own initiative
Queried as to what he is personally doing to keep his father legacy alive, Kaujeua Jr who at some point also flirted with the music industry, maintains that as a ‘working’ family man in Europe this makes it difficult for him to do much.

“My idea was to establish and run a fully-fledged Jackson Kaujeua Foundation to preserve my father’s music and legacy while contributing to other social challenges through song and dance.

“But for that to happen I should be in Namibia,” he says while appearing evasive about what his work entails, but stating that surviving solely on music in Europe is not easy as one has to compete with the locals.

He however hints at hosting a Jackson Kaujeua Music Festival, in memory of his father, for which he will ultimately require the support of the NACN.

“It is just fair. The person made a worthy contribution. He fought a good fight. And now that he is no more, it is just fair that we do something for the old man,” Kaujeua Jr. stresses.

Glimmer of hope
Be that as it may current Energy 100fm station manager and chairperson of the Namibia Editors Forum, Joseph Ailonga, maintains that to a certain extent something is being done to keep the Kaujeua flame red-hot.
“We have seen his songs being covered and sampled by Omalaeti music and artists such as Big Ben. Also, his music is still receiving good airplay on different radio stations,” Ailonga says.

He spoke about ideas in place to commemorate the life of the late Kaujeua with pictures while developing a section for arts within the National Museum to ensure Namibians do not lose a part of their cultural heritage.
“Government can support this idea and ensure it materialises. In addition, a suggestion has been made that the street in which the Namibian Society of Composers and Authors of Music (NASCAM) is located, 5 Johnson Street, in the Eros suburb of Windhoek, be re-named after Kaujeua.

“This submission has already been made and we hope that government will come to the party,” Ailonga says.
He further reveals that Energy 100fm is involved in a fundraising concert a young Namibian promoter is organising to establish a music section at the National Museum for fame local musos.
He blames the country’s fairly small population as the reason behind the masses’ failure to idolise the country’s musicians.

Neglect across board
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Kaujeua’s is not the only one who seems gone and forgotten.
Versatile Namibian artist, Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja feels that the blatant neglect of arts in Namibia is across the board. He attributes this to the country’s poor standards in arts education.
“While Namibian art history shows us that there has been a lot of growth and development on many levels of the society, it is also very visible that we have not done enough collectively to preserve and collate our art history and make it accessible.”

He further maintains that the archives are not accessible, nor user-friendly. With regard to the proposed Museum of Namibian Music, Mushaandja asks, “How is this museum going to be different and effective from other neglected museums?”

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