His was the brilliant mind which brought us hits like Inotila and Push &Pull in the 90s. With a career spanning close to three decades, Ras Sheehama has not only managed to stay relevant but is enjoying a successful career, something which most local artists only dream about. Taking into account that his 10th studio album is being released this year, The Villager Newspaper had a sit-down with the legend this week.
You are considered a legend in the Namibian music industry. How have you managed to stay relevant all these years?
I’ve managed to stay relevant through consistency. Identification of the Namibian market is also important. In the 90s, you found that it was people my age who mostly attended music concerts, now that has changed. One finds that the majority is the youth.
The type of music you play is also important. My genre of music is Afro-reggae, simply because when people hear me sing, they immediately relate me to Africa. My music is timeless. To this day when people hear songs like Inotila, they are touched because it speaks to them. It’s the same as with artists like Bob Marley, who is still relevant years after he died with songs like No Woman No Cry. The content of my music makes me a little outstanding.
What is music to you?
Music to me is life. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else. I can do other things on the side, but without music, I would go hungry and die. It is the thing which keeps me alive.
What would you have done/become had you not become a musician?
I would have been a very bad man. I would have been swept up by the wind of wanting to get money through whatever means necessary. I would want it (money) to come quickly, and would find bad ways to make that happen.
One often hears young artists complaining that making music is not a viable career choice because they don’t make money, and quit. However, you have been around for a long time. How do you do it?
One can’t enter this music industry driven by stardom. It is impossible to make millions, not that there aren’t any local artists who have not done so. Many are called, but only a few of them are chosen, as with all things in life.
There are a lot of artists all over the world, but only a few are famous, the same applies to Namibia. When entering the music industry, you have to come ready, you can’t just come with a handful of albums and expect to make it. What you find among the artists who are doing well is consistency. They are not rich, but they are ok, they have made a household name for themselves. You also have to be on top of your game in this industry. When we started, the industry was small and we did music from the heart, which is how we survived.
Are you working on any new projects?
I was scheduled to release a mini-album (my 10th album) on my birthday, but I decided to move it to September as because of the cold weather, it won’t be enjoyable. I consider this a mini-album because it has about 6 songs. My albums usually have 14 tracks.
What are the three most-played songs on your playlist?
They would have to be One Love by Bob Marley, Musuverua by Jackson Kaujeua and Heal the World by Michael Jackson.
What would you say your spirit animal is?
A leopard because it is a solitary creature like me. I jog alone every morning between 04h00 or 05h00 am. I won’t say I have friends, but colleagues. I like to protect my territory and myself from getting hurt.
If you could, which human trait/characteristic would you get rid of?
Jealousy, because it is a disease. It draws people back and keeps them from prospering. It takes your self-esteem. Even when you have more than other people, you tend to feel like they have more, and vice versa.
Tell us something about yourself which most people don’t know?
My name is Hans. I don’t like the name. Look at me, do I look like a Hans to you? It doesn’t fit me, it’s a German name.
If you had to be an ice-cream flavour, which would it be?
Strawberry. It has a nice colour. It is appetizing and sexy too. After you lick it, your tongue and lips become pink and you’ll smell good.
Of your own 90s songs, which is your all-time favourite?
It would have to be City Young Girl.
How would you spend your last day on earth?
Happy, I would just like to be happy. I will want to have everything I will miss when I’m gone. I would want to be surrounded by loving people, eating the best food and having my beautiful queen by my side.
Would you rather have your entire face tattooed, or wear pants with the butt section cut out forever?
I would rather expose my butt. How will I look with a tattoo on my face? People will run away. I will rather have them call me mad for exposing my butt. Besides, they are not that bad, they might be small, but not bad to look at.–firstname.lastname@example.org