Nama criteria questioned

As an institution that celebrates artistic works of Namibian musicians, we have come to expect that the NAMA’s upholds all of the values that reflect the very best that is born from the Namibian music industry. Unfortunately, the NAMA’s have been a series of hypocrisies and contradictions, leaving me to question why any contemporary popular Namibian artist would even consider participating in future.

While there is no doubt in my mind of the artistic talents of artists like Sally, Exit, Blossom, Mushe, PDK, Maszanga and Sunny Boy but we must acknowledge the massive cultural impact of established artists also like Elemotho, The Dogg, Tate Buti, Gazza and how their music is shaping, influencing and defining the voice of a generation. It is this same cultural impact that acknowledged the commercial and critical success of Late Jackson Kaujeua, Ras Sheehama and Willy Mbuende.

I have a friend who’s serving on one of the committee’s for the NAMA’s who was like “I had to be on the committee because I don’t trust the NAMA’s executive” which prompted me to strike a little chat with him of which I learned that my friend felt used as he went on to state “Its really hard to accept this nominations results because there is so many deserving talents that has not been nominated tonight and the arts of 70 percent of the artists nominated is compromised by the fact that they’re thinking that, and hoping to get an award but who is that award given by? It’s like they think it’s literally handed down by the musical-history gods and their fans votes will even be considered”. My friend went on to state that he is uncomfortable because he joined the music industry for the inherent reward of making songs and adding value to the music industry not be art of corrupt systems and this statement verified my suspicion that something is something fishy about the NAMA’s which motivated me to dig deeper.

Based on the outcome of nominees results its safe to acknowledge that the judges who have adjudicated the NAMA’s 2013 clearly lack expert knowledge on the daily activities of the Namibian music sector, artists and the categories they worked on as they have clearly failed to judge according to the defined guidelines and applying the assessment criteria for each categories fairly as per the NAMA’s rules and regulations. With this letter I wish to highlight few issues that has raised a lot of eyebrows to the credibility of the NAMA’s at the expense of both the steering, judge’s and NAMA’s executive committees incompetence;

Final nominees from the previous year are not eligible in the current year but I have picked up Nale by Maszanga which was already nominated in the NAMA’s 2012 but still feature in the NAMA’s 2013. PDK’s where surprisingly only nominated in the Best Music Video category with Dirty Kandeshi which raise a whole lot of controversy again this year because according to a reliable source the reason why the group was omitted in all other categories they entered this year is because the Moko album which was disqualified by the steering committee was already entered in the NAMA’s 2012. But last time I checked Dirty Kandeshi also forms part of the Moko Album that was disqualified, so what special criteria was actually used in this regard. I stock multiple Namibian albums released last year of which I can single out the most outstanding being Sally’s - Courage, Mushe Letter from the President, Sunny Boy - Business & Pleasure, Maszanga – Tjaaiii, Exit’s – Judgment Day, Dice – Number One Stunner and Qonja’s – Gone, Gone, Gone - as they marvelously embrace all units of the judging criteria set forth in the NAMA’s rules and regulations including but not limited to artistic performance, production, design, art layout and liner notes. So rating from the above mentioned and the number of overall nominations Sally, Maszanga, Dice and Mushe have received in different categories for the NAMA’s 2013 it is very flabbergasting as to why they are also not nominated for the Best Album of The Year category. Exit, PDK, Elemotho have all made significant contributions to the Namibian music industry more then majority of the nominated artists in the Best Male Artist of the Year category within the eligibility period be it through artistic ability, musical tours, social responsibility, entertainment value or radio airplay both locally and internationally. What transparency do this artists need in this regard as their successes during the eligibility period is self spoken and can someone please tell me what Damara Dik Ding, D-naff, Cox and Big Ben did during the eligibility period that is more of a significant contribution than the previously mentioned artists to the music industry or community at large? The Best Music Video category which is supposed to be adjudicated based on creativity, brand enhancement/extension, entertainment value and over all visual technique e.g lighting. But the results of this category is such a disgrace to the industry as it features no quality videos living up to the standard of videos such as Damara Dik Ding's - Pappa Sinne, Jericho’s – I promise, Sally – Share my love, Maszanga – Nale, Dice – Oka shu shu just to mention few which embraces the highest music video entertainment value in the industry and have all gained international airplay which the videos nominated in this category failed to achieve. More notably it is such a shame to see that one artist get nominated in 5 different genre categories, which leave me to question as to what the motive is for artists to enter albums if the nominees of all the different categories are determined from one song entry and not on the overall albums content which in this case should be the dominating genre of the album. MTC is using the NAMA’s as a profit centre rather than a social responsibility project which is clearly evident as to why the NAMA’s are trademarked and owned by MTC and not the music industry. Why can’t MTC offer Namibian musicians a small section inside their mobile homes across the country from where we can buy their music as there is a lack of adequate distribution channels and recognized music retailers across the country where people can buy local music. Last year The Dogg’s album titled The Deception didn’t get nominated at the NAMA’s 2012 for the Best Album of the Year category, Best Music Video category nor did he win the Best Male Artists of the Year category  but he ended up getting more notable recognition outside Namibia as he was nominated in the Best Kwaito Music Video category at the Channel O Spirit of Africa Music Video awards and was crowned the Best Male Artist of the Year at the Kora All Africa Music Awards held in December 2012 in Ivory Coast, Abidjan. This clearly proves incompetence of the NAMA’s because both the judging panels of the Channel O Music and the Kora Awards are made up of highly qualified and experienced music experts.

The awards have lost its touch with contemporary popular culture ever since MTC took over and there are two notable key sources for it;

1.       Over-zealousness to produce a popular show that is at odds with its own system

2.       Fundamental disrespect of cultural shifts as being viable and artistic

The NAMA’s have snubbed artists with more cultural impact, citing respective losses by the critical and commercial successes in various categories and it is a well-known fact that the NAMA’s have failed to achieve its original objectives and that's why notable sponsors have pulled out of this years NAMA's.

I have it on good authority that the NAMA’s is based more on enhancing Tim Ekandjo’s individual brilliance and that he don’t have the industries best interest at heart and only those artists, producers and industry role payers who confine in him benefits from ripping the fruits of the NAMA’s.

Not so long ago Tim Ekandjo was blaming the organizers of Hart van Windhoek for having only few Namibian artists performing at their event but little did he realize that the Hart van Windhoek plays a better role in putting bread on the tables of this Namibian artists as they get paid for their services unlike the NAMA’s who have used multiple artists over the past years to perform at their nominees parties and main award ceremonies but have never paid even a cent to any single artist for performances to date.

The Namibian music industry have been losing about N$ 4 million per year on the expense of our artists hard work to a South African company known as Rock Star 4000 who don’t even engage in skills transfer activities for the Namibian music industry like the Hart van Windhoek does. Rock Star 4000 has been in charge of the provision of production and management services for the NAMA’s for the past years and are protected by MTC to remain in charge of this tender due to a clause tailored within the MTC tender document stating that “Any company/individual or entity associated or that was associated in any manner to a local Namibian music label either directly or indirectly whether in a group of companies or whatsoever” cannot tender for the NAMA’s project which is unjustifiable as we have capable professional companies and individuals in the country who can do the work but are limited as they work directly or indirectly with different Namibian music labels to provide services on an ad-hoc basis.

This very same company Rock Star 4000 was handed contact details of majority of Namibian artists last year by MTC of which they emailed artists risky contracts attempting to rip them off by manipulating Namibian artists to sign over their rights in exchange of digital distribution and music publishing deals but they refused to hand any Namibian artist a full recording deal similar to what other artists around the globe are offered by Sony BMG.

Thus with all the above in mind, Ill advice Tim Ekandjo to step down from the executive committee of the NAMA’s on which he is serving unaccompanied because he clearly don’t understand the structure and dynamics of the music industry in either a global or local context including the activities associated with consumption of music and notions of an audience for music.

Yours Sincerely

Heart Broken Namibian Music Lover