Government needs to support musicians- Ras Sheehama

Legendary reggae artist Ras Sheehama who has been in the music industry for more than two decades has come out to say that the Government need to step in and support Namibian musicians.

Speaking to Vibe, Ras Sheehama said, there is a need to invest in local talent annually as the majority of the young generation finds comfort in arts after failing to gain some good points in high school to make it to tertiary level.

“The government needs to start investing in entertainment, corperate companies should find interest in uplifting the industry. Even if it’s just to avail a hall with all necessary equipment that instrumentalists can use. Obviously, there should be a small fee charged for maintenance but it will help a lot of people,” he suggested.

Ras Sheehama further expressed disappointment in the Arts Council saying that people that are currently in charge are wrong people at the wrong place.

“It is weird how you can tell me to give in a proposal and when I do so, through going so much trouble making copies and using my petrol to consult the right people, you tell me that I need to have 50% of the funds already to get a grant, really!” he stressed.

Apart from suggesting a new community hall were instrumentalists can sharpen their skills, Ras Sheehama said government can also come up with a big musical concert annually, which gives different musicians opportunities to go home with a thick cheque per year.

He said, “Every year, these event organisers can choose different artists that will be taking part. I have a problem with the NAMAs, you will find an artist you have never heard of before, never seen perform but apparently wins artist of the year. I don’t think it’s fair to some musicians who have been on their feet working hard for many years.”

Apart from the lack of support from government and corpperate entities, Ras Sheehama said live performing artists are struggling to make a living out of music because of the price they require to be booked which clients do not want to pay.

“Sometimes it can get quite for six months, no gigs because when you charge an event organiser for example N$30 000 they don’t get back to you. They would rather book someone who is charging N$5 000 to come lip sing. I have seven band members and if each person is getting a N$1 500, how much do you expect me to charge you. If it is a N$10 000 I have been offered I need to divide that in eight, because there is no way you can tell the instrumentalists that the money is not enough,” he explained.

He added that event organisers have to value musicians talent through remunerating them fairly.

Pressed whether he has any plans to drop a new album after dropping his last album in 2015 ‘Step Up’, leaving music lovers asking for more, he said he will be releasing a six-track album titled ‘Propaganda’ by the end of the year.

“I am getting old now man, I cannot be dropping albums after album,” he noted.